group of friends in masks in winter

Start planning a getaway with your travel pod. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

Are Travel Pods the Future of Vacationing? Learn What They Are and How to Prep Your Own

During the immensely difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s understandable to find yourself unsure of what precautions to take when the privilege of traveling arises — including how to keep yourself and others safer while still creating happy memories with loved ones.

In the face of these challenges, travelers have found creative solutions, namely, the “travel pods” concept, a quickly growing trend in the travel landscape.

Similar to “quarantine bubbles,” travel pods involve forming a multifamily group of relatives and/or friends with whom you plan to travel and then following strict quarantine rules together — before and during your trip — so that you can more safely vacation together while limiting your exposure to others.

Virtuoso, a global network of travel agencies and travel advisors, recently polled travelers and found that nearly 80 percent of those polled would consider forming a travel pod.

Bettina Staerkle, travel expert and founder of The Next Trip, a travel blog offering travel tips and resources says, “The travel restrictions that have been in place over the past nine months have meant that many families and close friends haven’t been able to see each other. … With the emerging trend of travel pods, this allows families and friends to reunite and do so in a socially distant and responsible way.”

Here are four essential tips to make the most of your travel pod.

friends around backyard firepit
Find accommodation with outdoor space when possible. (Photo: Getty Images)

Choose Stand-Alone Vacation Homes or Villas

In addition to hotels, consider accommodations like stand-alone vacation homes or villas, which allow your group to relax and socialize together for an extended time without direct contact or exposure to others.

Look for accommodations that have robust cooking facilities so that you can eat your meals at home without making frequent trips to restaurants or food stores. Outdoor space is also key — you’ll want plenty of room to stretch out and unwind. Plus, who doesn’t love chilling around a fire pit or outdoor pool?

Discuss Your Game Plan Before Traveling

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a mask in public, staying at least 6 feet apart, avoiding crowds and washing your hands often.

With that in mind, you’ll want to travel with those that you trust will adhere to the same level of precautions as you do prior to traveling together. It is best to clearly discuss the specific precautions your group will take prior to the trip.

Once your pod is in place, it’s time to pick a destination that everyone can travel to and enjoy more safely. If you’re overwhelmed by options and ever-evolving risk factors, the CDC keeps a data tracker of COVID cases by state that your group can reference when making travel plans.

Another factor to consider as you choose a destination is how you’ll get there (by car or by plane, for example) and how to mitigate any risks associated with transportation.

Finally, in addition to the above, everyone in your pod should quarantine for at least a week prior to the trip and get tested for COVID three to six days before traveling together.

women walking in urban landscape
Turn your squad into your pod. (Photo: Getty Images)

Don’t Let Quarantine Fatigue Strike

Once your travel pod arrives at your destination, continuing to follow CDC guidelines of mask wearing and social distancing while in public spaces, and washing hands should be agreed on and actively enforced within the group.

There could be an option to set ground rules on minimizing additional outside contact, like putting one or two people in charge of grocery shopping and picking up other supplies.

Now … Let the Vacay Begin!

Choose fun activities that include only your own travel pod and that maintain distance from those not in your bubble. For example, hiking is a great outdoor group activity that brings exercise and beautiful views and is socially distant.

Your pod can watch a movie together in the vacation rental, privately charter a boat or choose a daily recipe — with DIY wine tasting! — to cook together at dinnertime.