Even as travel starts to pick up again in certain parts of the United States, there is no 100% foolproof way to move a group during the COVID-19 pandemic without at least a minor risk of someone getting sick—there is no “safe,” only “safer.”
That being said, there are plenty of things group trip planners can do to grant their travelers peace of mind and minimize risk as much as possible. Here’s four tips that point towards that end:
1. Know who you’re traveling with
Knowing exactly who will be along for the ride is especially important when it comes to safe pandemic travel.
Your method of travel can affect who your group comes into contact with during their trip and how much control you have over that. For example, flying on a plane is quick—which means a shorter window for exposure to the virus—but more often than not, you have no idea who your travelers will be sitting next to on their flight. On the other hand, while driving to your destination would take longer, renting a charter bus for your group means you know exactly who will be on your motorcoach at any given time.
As an additional layer of safety and a way to keep everyone accountable, encourage your passengers to get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate before your trip—especially if anyone in your group is at-risk or regularly sees an at-risk person.
2. Opt for flexible transportation plans
Flexibility is key when it comes to planning transportation. Your group may be a small band of people who have already spent a lot of time together during the pandemic, so a small-scale transportation solution like a sprinter van or a minibus would do the trick. But if your group would like the option to keep their distance from their fellow travelers, you may want to opt for a larger coach like a full-sized charter bus that allows for staggered seating arrangements.
All of these requests and arrangements are valid. Just be sure to reserve with a bus rental company that will work with you, no matter what you need. National Charter Bus, for example, not only offers custom shuttle plans and sanitized bus rentals but also works with clients to enforce onboard safety measures throughout their trip—from face mask requirements for passengers and drivers, to preboarding temperature screenings.
3. Minimize pit stops
To limit exposure to the virus and keep contact with strangers to a minimum, try limiting the number of stops your travelers make along their journey.
Rather than standing in line at fast food establishments, bring your own brown-bag picnic lunches to enjoy on the road and encourage your passengers to pack their own nonperishable snacks! If you’re traveling via motorcoach, request a bus rental with an onboard restroom—that will give your passengers an accessible place to wash their hands without having to leave the bus.
If a particular pit stop is unavoidable, however, consider providing hand sanitizer before and after, or ask every passenger to bring their own.
4. Have a solid itinerary, but be prepared to change it
Having an airtight itinerary is already good practice for coordinating group travel, even when there’s not a pandemic going on. But especially nowadays, knowing exactly where you’re going means you can call ahead and ensure every attraction, restaurant, hotel, and venue on your list is going to be open before you get there.
Travel restrictions vary from city to city, and some cities even require out-of-towners to self-quarantine for a while before exploring the town. With that in mind, you need to be able to cancel or edit your trip at a moment’s notice, in case someone gets sick or your destination becomes a new hotspot—so be sure to do your homework and be willing to reconsider your travel plans if need be.