Operation Road Trip 49!
@Biancanetta and I have just-ish returned back from a trip to the United States. The US Border closure was a real hassle for many, and we're pleased to share some of our travel experiences into and out of the USA. Of course with the COVID situation improving but still not quite over (the DELTA variant is of concern for September of course) so YMMV, but we do want to share some of our findings with the rest of the community especially with the resumption of Ingress events.
At this time the US/Canada border is still closed for recreational travel but we expect the restrictions to loosen in early July for fully vaccinated travelers - if you are not yet fully vaxed PLEASE get yourself fully immunized at least two weeks before travelling! Do your part!
- USA: https://www.vaccines.gov/search/
- Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/vaccines.html
As well since the border restrictions are expected to lift, the information presented below may be out of date/no longer relevant fairly soon, but we hope this information may be useful anyways.
We opted to road trip rather than fly. The idea of flying in a confined tin can did not resonate well, especially as we brought our smurfling with us. The end goal being "avoid the plague" (even though - as it turns out - people don't do that). The states we roamed through were:
- New Mexico
- Dallas (err Texas)
- South Dakota
and we noted some things:
- For the most part - economy lodging was pretty safe and clean. While we did stop over at friends and family's places to avoid public lodging, with the exception of a run down econolodge in Arkansas - we found our budget options were safe, clean and sanitized. As with anything, read the reviews first.
- Mask usage varies (similar to British Columbia) - for the most part we found people social distanced and masks were worn by service workers and the rest of the public,
- Tourism spots (like Mount Rushmore) were not crazy busy - but enough to be of concern from a social distancing point of view. We didn't go around asking people if they were vax'd, but standard self-care procedures such as hand sanitizer, avoiding kissing strangers and keeping time in packs of people to under 15 minutes go a long way.
- State run visitor centers/rest stops were pretty clean and staffed,
- Refuel stations such as Loves were pretty clean and felt safe. Smaller independent gas stations were hit and miss. We walked away from a few of them as they looked to have not been cleaned with any regularity, even in touristy areas such as Coeur d'Alene.
- If you pull over to the side of the road in the Moab desert, people WILL stop to check on you!
- Some areas have lower covid vaccination rates than other. In particular we noted that Utah had a low Vax rate, but we saw social distancing in force and a lot of abandoned public sport areas, etc. It’s wise to be aware of vaccination rates and COVID case counts, and nearly every state did have information easily findable to help us decide what kind of precautions were necessary to avoid CV19 exposure.
- On the return to Canada we were required to present negative PCR (NOT rapid) tests. These tests can be paid for at various locations, but we also discovered that some locations offered PCR tests at no cost. If you're on a budget and expect to need to present a PCR test - check your options. Your best bet is to walk into a pharmacy and ask - pretty much all online options guide you through a narrow funnel and are not necessarily your only option.
- The trip back through the Canadian border was hassle free. The usual questions (where, why, how long, etc) were presented and then we were read the riot act about mandatory quarantining - Canadian Border Services is taking the pandemic VERY seriously and we've been nagged on a daily basis since returning to stay put, OR ELSE (FWIW, we're allowed to leave quarantine for medically necessary things or with permission of a health officer).
- The trip into the USA was also very straight forward. The usual questions, and you either qualify for travel - or you don’t. No questions were asked about CV19 exposure or health.
- People were pretty friendly and happy to see our Canadian plates!
- Always let the toddler have their own tablet (for Intel, of course)
- CrackerBarrel (seriously, the 'C' part of CrackerBarrel is censored on this forum?!?) in the east is waaay tastier than the West
Overall we had a marvelous journey and our objectives were accomplished without incident. We were quite happy to see Tourism active, and people going on about their lives in the midst of the pandemic. Mad props to our friends and family who helped out with pizza and overnight stays. It was really wonderful seeing our friends again and it made the trip sooo much smoother.
We're also slowly posting pictures of our trip to instagram at https://www.instagram.com/foo_games/ - for those who like that sort of thing.
Happy Summer Solstice!