How to Travel Safely in a Pandemic
If you love the excitement and energy that travel and new experiences bring, you may be asking yourself “How can I travel safely in a pandemic?” as you contemplate a way to freshen up your perspective and rejuvenate from the stress of a life lived largely at home. There are plenty of strategies that allow you to travel while being conscientious and responsible—keep reading for our guide on the safest way to getaway during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Consider your Travel Options
Transportation should be the very first consideration on your list. Take a look at destinations that are located within two to six hours driving distance of your home before jumping on a plane—especially if you’ve not been farther than your neighborhood wine shop and grocery store in recent months.
Allow the journey to become part of the destination! Take the time to do more than just punch the address into the GPS: look at maps of the region you’ll be travelling to and consider all available route options. Is the most efficient route also exclusively on dull highways? Perhaps there’s a scenic byway that adds twenty minutes to your drive but significantly ups the beauty factor. Research natural wonders along your way—you may be just a brief detour away from an amazing park, scenic overlook, or natural wonder. A little research and planning—plus an excellent stockpile of snacks—turns the car travel into just as much a part of your experience as the destination itself. Be sure to pack hand sanitizer, face masks, and disposable gloves and try to limit stops along the way for gas, food, or bathroom breaks.
The Finger Lakes are surrounded by natural wonders. If you’re travelling from the west, consider a stop at the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park near Canandaigua Lake. If you’re arriving from the east, stop at Fillmore Glen State Park in the Village of Moravia and peek into a replica of the cabin where Millard Fillmore, 14th President of the United States, was born in 1800. For those traveling to Aurora from the north, make a quick visit to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, where from your car or on a short walk you can keep an eye out for one of their famous Bald Eagles. Traveling from points south? Detour through Ithaca to Taughannock Falls State Park and hike in or drive to the scenic overlook to enjoy the view of the largest single-drop waterfall east of the Mississippi River.
Taughannock Falls State Park
Spaces that Are Expansive, not Confining
Once you’ve arrived at your vacation destination, the last thing you want to find during a pandemic is the large indoor warren of hallways, elevator banks, and cavernous lobby spaces often found in traditional hotels. Instead, consider booking your stay at boutique properties and independent inns that are naturally designed for effective social distancing and limited numbers of guests. This offers the best of both worlds: all of the services and special touches of a hotel experience that may be missing from an Airbnb rental, but with few other guests and the easy access to both private and outdoor spaces that small-scale buildings naturally facilitate. Many independent resorts and hotels offer a variety of accommodations spread across multiple buildings—a far cry from the compressed efficiency of a traditional hotel design. It’s critical to structure your travel in a way that feels like a true change of pace that’s comfortably refreshing, rather than visiting an environment that feels more restricted than the home you’ve been hunkered down in.
At the Inns of Aurora, our distinctive layout of five individual inns—spread across the Village of Aurora with an average of fewer than 11 guestrooms per property—ensures that it’s easy to maintain social distance and avoid any sort of group gatherings. The inns’ dramatic dining rooms, parlors, porches, and grounds keep your trip fresh with so many different nooks to settle into and views to enjoy—all separate from a luxurious guestroom to retreat to at the end of the day. And the Inns of Aurora campus is home to a 3.5-mile nature trail home to varying terrain and spectacular views of Cayuga Lake and our agrarian region. Pack your boots, hat, gloves, and warm layers and spend your getaway outside in the fresh air! As the saying goes, there’s no bad weather, only bad gear—with the right packing list you’ll have no need to stay inside.
The Overlook Platform on the Nature Trail
Living in a pandemic has changed so many elements of life, not the least of which is the prevailing idea that it’s difficult—or even irresponsible—to safely get out, explore, and learn something new. However, hospitality teams around the country have reinvented their experiences to accommodate these new concerns and create magical moments that inspire and invigorate guests while adhering to appropriate safety standards.
The best way to take advantage of the opportunity to engage in an activity or adventure is to book a private experience. Historically, you may have only considered private experiences when coordinating for a group of six or eight people, but the new private experiences are designed (and priced) for as few as two individuals—perfect for a special something with your special someone. Spaces are designed for social distancing, supplies are curated to be sterilized and/or single use, and instructors have reimagined their classes and activities to deliver fun in a way that limits interaction between individuals. From chocolate tastings, to tea blendings, candle-lit yoga classes, to outdoor guided hikes and lantern walks, a private experience will help you set aside the cares of the world and focus on something entirely new and engaging that may end up being the highlight of your getaway.
A private yoga class in the Loft, our wellness studio.
Embrace Creative Dining
No industry has been more challenged during the pandemic than that of your local and independent restaurant operators. As the news has evolved, so too have the passionate individuals who work behind the scene creating the sips and bites that you love. Whether you are supporting your local restaurants, or look for independently owned stops to grab a tasty road trip treat along your journey, continuing to direct your business to independent restaurants will help to ensure that the vibrant fabric of local restaurants is still intact in the future.
Once you arrive in Aurora, spend the afternoon lunching in the backyard at our new Fargo Fire Garden, with your own personal fire pit and a menu full of warming snacks, meals, and hot beverages. (Be sure to order the s’mores dip!) Or order to-go fine dining take out from 1833 Kitchen & Bar or to-go classics and modern comfort food from the Fargo Bar & Grill. If the weather is fine, plan to enjoy your take-out outdoors on a veranda, or when you'd rather stay indoors, retreat to your guestroom for a quiet meal. Alternatively, take advantage of the intimate nature of our dining establishments and our rigorous health and safety practices and enjoy a true restaurant experience at either of our restaurants. If you’re looking for something new and exciting, book one of the limited (max eight guests) number of seats at our Aurora Cooks! demonstration kitchen every Monday and Tuesday evening. Learn a new skill and enjoy a fabulous three-course pre-fixe menu. Not traveling on those days? Consider booking a private dining experience or attending a chocolate or cheese tasting at Aurora Cooks! during your visit.
Verify Safety Procedures
Having a pandemic travel plan that is both fun and responsible means you’ll want a set of logistics that will allow you to relax, de-stress, and enjoy your time away. As your plan starts to come together, be sure to verify the relevant COVID-19 procedures. Are you traveling to a state or country with a mask policy? Does the property, vendors, or restaurants you plan to patronize publicize their pandemic protocols? Check websites and social media accounts for links to the steps they’ve put in place so that you can know what to expect. Finally, verify that what the business says they’ll do is what they actually do. Take a look at review websites like TripAdvisor to see what other guests have said about this business—in this moment of uncertainty, it’s key to try and eliminate the potential for an unwelcome surprise.
At the Inns of Aurora, you’ll find that New York State’s mask mandate is strictly enforced and respected. In addition, our teams undergo rigorous protocols regarding dining procedures, social distancing, disinfection, and more to adhere to the highest standard of safety, and we were proud to once again win AAA’s Best of Housekeeping award this year. Read about our COVID-19 precautions here.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
My wife and I stayed at the Zabriskie House to celebrate my 50th birthday. We couldn't be happier with our choice and had an amazing time. We were nervous about staying away from home during the pandemic, but were immediately put at ease after seeing how careful they were about cleaning and sanitizing while adhering to state guidelines for social distancing.
— Jeff, TripAdvisor
Know your Plan
Regardless of where you go or how you enjoy your time once you get there, traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic requires a different kind of attention to detail than you may be accustomed to. That said, there are amazing destinations, talented and passionate professionals, and a host of outdoor, distanced, and relaxing ways to make the most of your time away from home. With our distinctive campus layout, intimate inns, and industry-leading commitment to the safety of our guests and our employees, the Inns of Aurora is the safest way to getaway. If you aren’t able to travel to New York, we urge you to support our fellow independent hotels, resorts, inns, restaurants, and activity outfitters in a destination near you.