Last month I did two things that I have missed so much. I flew and I checked into a hotel. It was great! But it was different so I want to share my personal quick tips for traveling during this pandemic. I also want to compliment the two businesses that I experienced…Southwest Airlines and the Marina del Rey Hotel in Marina del Rey, California.
Both Southwest Airlines and Marina del Rey Hotel mostly get a thumbs up from me after my trip.
First, my flying quick tips…
*Don’t forget your mask and pack extra masks in case you lose or drop yours. Most airlines are strict about mandating the mask requirement.
*Pack a pair of socks in your carry-on bag. I forgot to do that and I had to go barefoot through the security check since I wore flip flops. Oh, the germs on that airport floor…ugh!
*Pack a travel size hand sanitizer and a pack of cleaning wipes. I was thrilled to find a small pack of Clorox wipes at Target. I just checked Target to see if some are still available, but they are sold out. However, it pays to search online often for this item. Several times a week I check multiple stores in search of Clorox or Lysol wipes. I usually find at least one container. Make your own small pack with several cleaning wipes packed in a quart size plastic sandwich bag. Then bring an empty bag to put the soiled wipes in so you have somewhere to dispose of the wipes until they can be thrown away. As soon as I found my seat, I quickly wiped down the seat and arm rests. This also indirectly let my seatmate know that I would be respectful of protecting him from potential germs and I hoped that he would take the hint and reciprocate.
*Eat and drink before your flight. The gentleman behind my row kept sneezing. I was glad that he was masked… and I was happy to leave my mask on so I did not remove it for drinking or eating.
*Decide how you want to be seated on board by researching the airlines pandemic seating plan before you book. I appreciated that Southwest Airlines had left the middle seats open when I traveled last month. They are no longer limiting the middle seats as of December 1st, so be aware of that. That day, I was happy to have that space between myself and my seatmate (he sat in the aisle seat and I sat in the window seat) as he wore his mask, but it only covered his mouth. With his nose exposed the entire flight, I appreciated that there was an empty seat between us.
*Set up touchless technology on your devices before you travel like Apple Pay on your phone or Apple Watch. Most of the merchants I encountered at the airport take Apple Pay. Many stores and restaurants were closed but a few were open for business, thank goodness. I loved being able to pay with a quick wave of my wrist since I wore my Apple Watch.
*Bring your own pen! I cannot stress this enough. Just when I thought most places offer touchless technology, I still had to use the pen they provided at times. I visited an open airport restaurant preflight for a quick cocktail (cheers!) and I had to use the bartender’s pen to add a tip. I did not notice any sanitizing of the pens bar side. I also had to use a pen when I checked into the hotel, received room service, etc. Add pens to your essentials to keep on your person.
*Turn the overhead air vent on as soon as you take your seat. My mother-in-law shared this tip with me. Turning the overhead air vent on creates sort of an unseen air barrier around you that can redirect potential virus particles away from you to instead down to the floor. I also read this interesting tip in a Business Insider article.
*Travel light if you can. I did not have to grab anything from the overhead bin so I was able to deplane quickly. I was glad that I traveled lightly and didn’t need the overhead bin space. Passengers did tend to crowd each other when exiting the aircraft. I also sat close to the front as well so I was able to avoid the cluster that occurs when people are ready to deplane.
My Hotel Tips
I love to stay at hotels. Always have. Always will. So when I decided to finally venture back out there in the midst of the pandemic we are forced to continue to still live with, I decided on The Marina del Rey Hotel located in pretty…you guessed it…Marina del Rey, California.
First let’s dive into why I recommend the Marina del Rey Hotel and then I will share tips to know to prepare for a hotel stay during this very unique time. Do note that at the time of this published article (December 2020), California is on strict lockdown now due to the hospital capacity concern, so make sure to check with the hotel (and others nationwide) before booking so that you know what to expect.
*The location! Beautiful Marine del Rey is lovely on its own and is also just minutes away from several nice beaches. This includes Manhattan Beach, my personal fave. I chose a room with a view of the marina and I highly recommend that. The view was terrific both day and night.
*The room service food! I really like the menu that the property restaurant, SALT, offers. With Covid19 still around, the hotel still offers room service with all food served in takeout dishes. I did miss the feel of a glass coffee mug in the morning, but the coffee was good and my selections were very tasty. Eating on my room balcony with a view of the lovely boats and the faint sounds of the people visiting and happy seals barking was the perfect ambience for me, especially right now. The room service dinner options were also terrific. I also enjoyed eating my entrees on the patio. I loved every bite of the Cavatelli pasta dish that is made with sea bean, fennel, Chinese broccoli, and smoked rye. It was delish! The brussels sprout slaw was exactly right with a satisfying mix of the brussels complimented with green apple, marcona almond, pickled papaya and manchego cheese. SALT, the hotel restaurant, offers tasty fare in a nice space that has perfect views of the bay. The hotel’s vibe struck me as a combination of modern flair balanced with some LA and California history, too. I liked the combination of themes as I toured the property.
I also loved the rooms with views of the marina. SALT restaurant sits right at the edge of the marina so the views are great to take in while dining.
Now that I have shown you the parts of the hotel that I experienced, let us talk about some tips to know if you are planning to travel during the pandemic. Things are different out there, including hotels.
A Few Things To Know That Are Different Due To The Pandemic
*Don’t forget your mask and extra ones, too. It is a strict rule in most hotels to wear a mask when you are outside of your room.
*Bring your own pen if you do not want to touch hotel pens. I had to sign at check-in and the tab whenever I received room service.
*Each hotel has different pandemic policies so be sure to check the website or the property or call ahead to know what to expect. At the Marina del Rey Hotel noticeable precautions are followed to try to keep employees and customers healthy. The restaurant had outdoor seating only, reduced capacity and only offered menus on request. Instead, a handy bar code is scanned into personal smart phones so that the menu can be viewed that way. I like that. The remote in my room was wrapped in plastic. Hotel employees all wore face coverings and the waiters also wore face masks plus face shields and gloves.
*Another thing that was different at this property is that housekeeping was not an automatic daily service unless requested 24 hours in advance. Since I stayed for four days, I requested maid service on my 3rd morning and that worked out fine. Valet parking is also not offered at this time. Parking is close and plentiful at this hotel so that was also fine with me.
*At some properties, you can request to be in a room that has not been occupied for a day or two. I have done this twice with two different hotels when I traveled in September and in November.
The bottom line is that hotels are doing their best to offer customers a nice getaway stay while also balancing the required regulations to practice pandemic safety. Not an easy thing to do, in my opinion. The Marina del Rey Hotel did both well. I was comfortable, certainly well fed and found my views of the marina to be very relaxing. I am anxious to return post-pandemic to experience the Marina del Rey Hotel at full service…but I plan to go back even before then because I really enjoyed my stay!
I am holding off on travel for now until the virus surge is over and hospitals across the nation have more capacity. I look so forward to getting back up in the sky again and checking into my next hotel. Until then, stay safe and happy travels to all when travel resumes.
For more travel information, hotel reviews, tip, recipes and more be sure to check my blog at managedmoms.com. Stay safe and Happy Holidays to all.
Overall, I found flying to be a calm experience that I have missed. Perhaps I use the word calm because folks are social distancing and not crowding like the pre-Covid days. I kind of like that. Southwest Airlines has folks line up to board in groups of 10 with distance between each person. I also appreciated that practice during this crazy time.
Those are my quick tips for flying during this pandemic. What travel tips do you find helpful? Share in the comments section.
Stay tuned for my blog post this weekend about my hotel experience. There are some details that will surprise you and I look forward to sharing my experience. It was good to check into a hotel again. If you are headed back up in the air soon, I wish you a healthy and happy return to the skies. Stay healthy everyone. Unfortunately, cold and flu season is straight ahead. Perhaps all the hand washing and mask wearing will result in a mild season. Fingers crossed!