Service of Vacation Travel During a Pandemic

July 2nd, 2020

Categories: Pandemic, Travel

Photo: flickr

It’s Fourth of July weekend! Where are we going?

Two friends have planned or have already gone on days-long summer vacations by car involving motel or hotel stays. Another will visit a friend later in summer traveling by train and a fourth would fly in a second were he welcomed in Europe.

They are in the minority according to a June 2020 survey of almost 1,000 adults commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association [AHLA]. It “found that only 44 percent of Americans are planning overnight vacation or leisure travel in 2020, with high interest in road trips, family events, and long weekends over the summer months.” Of those who planned to travel, 68 percent “are likely to stay in a hotel.”

The survey found that “55% plan to travel for a family event, such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, or family reunion; 50% plan to travel for Christmas, 43% for Thanksgiving, 33% for 4th of July, and 30% for Labor Day.”

According to “The American Automobile Association estimates that 150 million people had to cancel travel plans this summer…..In fact, this year, 97 percent of summer trips are road trips. According to the AAA, air travel is down 74 percent. Trains, cruises, and other forms of travel are down 86 percent. The only number that’s close to normal is car travel, which is down just 3 percent compared to last year.”

What interested me about the AHLA website was information about a “safe stay” initiative “focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19.”


An excerpt of the “Cleaning & Disinfecting Products and Protocols” section about guest rooms: “Cleaning and disinfecting protocols will require that particular attention is paid to high-touch, hard nonporous items including television remote controls, toilet seats and handles, door and furniture handles, water faucet handles, nightstands, telephones, in-room control panels, light switches, temperature control panels, alarm clocks, luggage racks and flooring. The frequency of room cleaning during a guest’s stay may be altered based on guest requirements. In accordance with CDC guidelines, Housekeeping staff should wait at least 15 minutes before entering a guest’s room for cleaning to allow for adequate time for air exchange following the guest’s departure, and will discard all single use items provided by the hotel that were used by the guest during their stay, or left by the guest. If bulk personal care items are used, the cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all high touch surfaces in the room including any bulk toiletry items that may have been used or touched by guests prior to the next occupant.”

The point that raised my eyebrow in light of the controversy about indoor eating at restaurants and sharing air space in trains, planes and buses was “Housekeeping staff should wait at least 15 minutes before entering a guest’s room for cleaning to allow for adequate time for air exchange.”

Are you planning to travel? Will you disinfect your hotel room or assume that it’s clean? Are you driving or taking public transportation to get to your destination? Do you welcome overnight guests to your home these days?



13 Responses to “Service of Vacation Travel During a Pandemic”

  1. BC Said:

    Always wipe down hotel rooms, not just now. No guests, as hardly
    anyone is traveling!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I never before thought of wiping down elements of a hotel room but sure will from now on if I get a chance to travel.

    I admit to always feeling squeamish about bed covers as goodness knows when they’ve been last cleaned. I think hotels might consider heavy sheet-quality duvet covers that can easily be removed and washed for every guest.

  3. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    Yes I still welcome overnight guests. Not that I’ve had any but I still do my best to see that everything here is safe. Except for Georgie the parrot of course! Although I notice he’s taking more baths. He’s trying to be a kosher parrot. 🦜🦜 I really really miss having sleepovers!!! Hopefully soon!!!!

  4. ASK Said:

    In the past two weeks, I have used both subways and buses and, to date, to catch up with postponed doctors’ appoinments. I always wear a mask and vinyl or latex gloves. This week I ate in a Manhattan restaurant outdoors with a very close friend I hadn’t seen in months. As I sat in the sunshine, looking at the high-rises that continue to be constructed, the enormity of the problem seemed apparent. How New York City can get return to normal functioning while maintaining social-distance protocols escapes me. The problem seems overwhelming. And surrounding heavily populated areas will face the same issues.

    One can only hope an effective and safe vaccine will be developed as soon as humanly possible. I already see joggers and other sports-types without masks in the streets. As well as people celebrating weddings and lining up to pick up take-out food. Some wear masks, others, no. The same with social distancing…Local police do not hand out summons, nor do they issue warnings.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I heard a discussion on the radio about friends coming for dinner at a house where they can sit outside and distance safely. One of the speakers said she dedicates a bathroom for guests and has paper towels and disinfectant on hand for them to use before and after.

    For those in apartments or who have one bathroom it’s a different story.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    How did you find the bus and subway experience? Are buses still free?

    I’ve noticed a huge increase of pedestrians on midtown streets when I had them to myself for months. Too many wear no mask with none in sight. At least on the street we can try to keep our distance from these people. I don’t know what the police can do to enforce mask wearing. There is an order about wearing them but not a law. Not sure how that impacts this situation.

    As for those high rises, before the pandemic I wager most were slated for investments by foreigners and therefore would not have impacted the streets and transportation systems most days. I lived in several apartments–one small co-op, one moderate sized condo–where this was also true. Some are empty all but two or three weeks a year, just time to catch a few shows, see friends and shop.

    Otherwise you are right about congestion in big cities. However many continue to work from home. One friend was told in May she’d be back in the Manhattan office in September and the date was recently moved to January. The New York Times is waiting until next year. My apartment landlord’s midtown offices remain closed with staff working at home. [The company owns many properties and has a large staff.] I imagine that many people, like me, have also given up their offices or plan to. Once it all shakes out we’ll see what’s left.

    Like everyone I hope for an effective and safe vaccine and/or powerful ways of mitigating the virus so we can breathe a little easier.

  7. BC Said:

    I sleep only with a sheet in a hotel. Keep the room warm.

  8. Martha Takayama Said:

    I do not plan to travel any time in the foreseeable future.

    I absolutely will not stay in a hotel. I was revolted by the information I read on the net yesterday about an “Inside Edition” expose of disgusting hotel management, which included high end locations, (as if one should not necessarily expect decent sanitation in more modest lodgings). The policy included not changing bed linens after guest stays, not changing towels, not wiping down hard and other surfaces and more. I was so nauseated by what I considered outrageous unsanitary behavior under the best of circumstances, let alone a pandemic, that I stopped reading before finishing the article.

    I am terrified to take public transportation, planes most of all. The apparently genocidal greed of the major U.S airlines should hopefully cause their demise and leave their executives at least in abject poverty.

    I am a very loyal friend, but am not receiving guests for visits or overnight these days. I am angry at what our leaderless country has become and infinitely sad for the consequent intensification of the global tragedy in which we are immersed.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I didn’t read the “Inside Edition” article which is scary. I hope that the hotels in question are in the minority and have literally cleaned up their acts as they spoil it for all the others. Pal who has been in New England for a week hasn’t reported anything alarming about the hotel or restaurants visited.

    Friends have done OK taking city buses and subways–no complaints. One friend changed cars because some in the one she first entered didn’t wear masks. She returned home in a bus. Guess you try to hit either when traffic is slow.

    I would feel better if there was a national plan with solid recommendations for all–supported by everyone in the administration–tweaked to accommodate local customs and situation. Tiny upstate NY towns with no virus cases should not be held to the same standard as Manhattan or Queens. Yet there should be a federal law about social distancing and masks–gloves when appropriate. I feel adrift, not knowing what unhappy surprise to expect next or learn about record numbers of cases cropping up in our country. Who would have ever thought that we would be forbidden to visit Europe? I am appalled that we have dropped so low.

  10. Lucrezia Said:

    Better a live chicken than a dead duck. I’m not going anywhere. Neither is anyone I know, possibly for similar reasons. I’m not asking. Cluck cluck!

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Having a car–which the two traveling to hotels friends do–makes a big difference. That’s hurdle No. 1: Getting there virus-free.

    There is no avoiding the hotel or eating out parts. I’m not yet ready for those obstacles.

  12. Lucille Grippo Said:

    We are very wary about going away.

    Prior to Covid we had plans to meet extended family in Las Vegas to celebrate a 90th birthday party and a wedding celebration as well as visiting the Grand Canyon. So happy we didn’t book that trip.

    A few weeks ago we looked at renting an Air B and B in Delaware. No sooner than we shut our computer down we learned of virus hot spots in that area. Yikes! Glad we held off.

    Looks like we will be spending a lot of time on hiking trails in the Hudson Valley this summer.

    As for overnight guests I haven’t invited guests that live more than 1/2 hour from here because I don’t want them in my house let alone overnight. Some may say I’m overly COVID Cautious but if I don’t know who you have been spending time with you are not welcome to spend time with me. Extreme maybe but we have been lucky so far and I’m not talking a chance.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Covid Cautious–I’ll borrow that! I am also and many think I’m overcautious to the point of nuts. Each time I read or hear about someone who feels fine and tests positive–such as Kimberly Guilfoyle, Trump junior’s girlfriend–I become wary and renew my vow to wear a mask and keep my distance.

    I think you have made the right decision to stay local. I hope my adventuresome friends who are out and about in motels and hotels, eating at restaurants, suffer zero repercussions. I see photos of seashores and oceans and must remain happy with my East River views. When I can walk along the sand again it will feel and be that much sweeter.

    I am beyond upset that citizens of our wonderful country are forbidden to travel to Europe–that it’s come to that. Goodness. What next: Can we sink lower?

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