Traveling To Shenandoah River Valley, Virginia, with Kids During COVID-19
I bet you’re wondering how to travel with kids during COVID-19. Our family (two boys, ages 7.5 and 3.5) had been diligently staying home since the COVID-19 pandemic fully emerged in mid-March. But after over three months, isolation had truly taken its toll on our mental health. While any travel carries risk in the U.S., we sought a long weekend away as safely as possible. This led us to Page County, Virginia – the “cabin capital of Virginia.” Approximately two hours or less from the D.C. area, Page County is well-known thanks to its natural wonder, Luray Caverns. Though we didn’t venture underground, (it’s still unclear how the coronavirus may travel in enclosed spaces) our first weekend away proved an amazing family getaway. We booked a second trip a month later! Here are some tips from our stay to help you travel with kids during COVID-19.
First, Find Reliable Lodging
I think the main hurdle when deciding to travel with kids during COVID-19 is finding reliable accommodations. We specifically decided to head to Virginia due to its spacious stretches of land. We recommend looking for somewhere naturally isolated, regardless of your location. Aside from your destination’s geography, though, you should also decide whether you’re comfortable enough staying in a hotel. Or, if you’re going the other route, whether you feel safe renting out another person’s home. When traveling to Page County, we used both VRBO and Airbnb to rent cabins in Shenandoah and Luray, respectively. My family also took our safety seriously and looked for cabins that adhered to CDC-recommended cleaning practices. As a plus, you should also look for somewhere with enough land to roam a little, or offering kid-friendly amenities (e.g., play area with toys or video games.) Luckily, our accommodation had all this and then some!
Research Kid-Friendly Activities Near Your Accommodation
Research is a seasoned traveler’s best friend! Whether you’re planning a trip to Virginia or brainstorming other destinations worth journeying to, it’s always wise to know what to expect when you arrive. To make the trip as much of a vacation as possible, my family chose cabins that incorporated elements we couldn’t get at home. For us, this was namely a fire pit and a hot tub. Look for something that will excite your children about the trip! The novelty of our cabin’s amenities made for a fun weekend together, even if we only left the cabin grounds scarcely during each stay. As a bonus for our Shenandoah cabin, there was a playscape out front for our kids to use. Additionally, there was a short walking trail to keep them active throughout our stay. Finally, we also brought a hose and sprinkler to keep cool during sweltering 90-degree days!
Enjoy Safe Excursions Out and About
My biggest tip on how to travel with kids during COVID-19 is to spend time outdoors! If you live on the East Coast, the window for a family outdoor adventure is decreasing by the day. That’s why we’re happy we took our family vacation to Virginia when we did! Overly cautious on our first trip, however, we left only to pick up to-go ice cream. But on our second, we ventured to a local hiking spot in the morning to escape any potential crowds (and the heat!). Lion’s Tale Trail was not only super easy for small children, but it also offered animal facts along its flat half-mile trail. While we didn’t drive around much during these trips, we know from previous experience that nearby Skyline Drive provides many vistas to take in the natural beauty of the area; Thornton Gap was the closest entrance to us.
Plan Food and Drink Accordingly
Understanding restaurant restrictions is also an important tip for COVID-friendly travel. Luckily, many accommodated delivery or curbside/takeout during our Virginia vacation with kids. Finding the right food options for your family will take some planning. Do not assume restaurants will be open or available to do take-out dining.
In Shenandoah, Mamma Mia stood out for its safety practices around takeout and delivery. (Plus great pizza and meals!) Karen’s Frozen Favorites, a small stand for soft serve, sported masks and practiced social distancing too. In Luray, where masks were more common, Gathering Grounds had amazing food, including a convenient takeaway family dinner. Next, Flotzie’s served cool treats with outdoor seating! Online ordering and delivery were common, with Gennaro’s and Anthony’s Pizza offering pizza, pasta, and subs. For parents to unwind, Hawksbill Brewing Company also provided easy takeout for craft beer. (We took advantage of Wisteria Vineyard’s free delivery in Page County, which is no longer an offer with the state in Phase 3.) Finally, no matter where you dine, be sure to put your family’s safety first!
Final Considerations Prior To Vacationing
These are just a few notable factors when understanding how to travel with kids during COVID-19. As many parents already know, always prepare for the unexpected! Traveling with children invites certain unforeseeable hiccups, and these odds are magnified during a pandemic. (Especially without proper information on how to travel with kids during COVID-19.) For example, consistent internet access faltered throughout my entire family vacation in Virginia, as satellite and cable services lost effectiveness with more people using them. This is definitely a significant factor to consider before booking your vacation. With so many people working or schooling remotely, it was more difficult to stream Netflix or participate in a Zoom workout, at times. These inconveniences can be particularly frustrating if you work or conduct school from a similar location. For this reason, be sure to account for every possible snafu before embarking on your next adventure with children!
We hope you’ve enjoyed top contributor Megan Tucker’s advice on How To Travel With Kids During COVID-19! No matter where or when you decide to take your family vacation, we guarantee you’ll have the adventure of a lifetime alongside your little ones! Whether you are traveling to Virginia or further afield, find more tips on traveling with kids from amazing families around the world by joining our Facebook group, Families Who Love To Travel! It’s a group of dynamic families who love to adventure and explore through travel. Plus, follow us on Instagram (@families.love.travel) to connect with other families who love the unique experiences travel has to offer!