How to Travel Safely in the Maritimes This Summer

It’s that time of year where many of us are optimistically and excitedly planning our summer travel. (And some of us are planning to travel to a Maritime destination to get married!)

As someone who has travelled since she was a little girl, it has never stressed me out or caused me any anxiety. However, enter a global pandemic and, well, things like using a gas station bathroom on the road go from easy-peasy to a game of how do I touch the least amount of things

Despite a pandemic, I managed to squeeze in seven overnight trips in New Brunswick last summer and numerous day trips travelling throughout the province. Which meant, yes, I had to pee in a gas station bathroom more than once. We hopped on countless ferries and explored dozens of tourism destinations. And it wasn’t always just me, the beach, and a handful or three of seaglass.

And not to blow my own foghorn, but in the past year, I have certainly picked up a few tricks that have given me peace of mind while travelling around these waters. So I thought I’d share my mermaid secrets to travelling safely in the Maritimes this summer, no matter your comfort level. 

When in doubt, stick to patios or get creative

Here’s the great thing about travelling in the summer months, during a pandemic: it’s patio season! If you’re not feeling comfortable dining indoors with strangers—I certainly wasn’t last summer—opt for restaurants with takeout locations that have a patio. 

No patio? If there is a takeout option (think fried clam joints or Mexican food trucks), get your food to go and take it somewhere scenic. Last summer, Dan and I enjoyed our Isla Coccina on Grand Manan from both a beautiful wharf right on the ocean and as part of a picnic on the beach with our besties. Most recently, I grabbed some fried clams to go from the Clam Digger in St. Andrews to enjoy on the Bar Road to Ministers Island. 

Fried clam takeout being enjoyed by Crystal Richard on the beach overlooking the ocean at sunset

It’s all about being creative while taking advantage of some of the incredible takeout options available to you! Like, fried clams 😉

Staying in a hotel? Room service is a great option to avoid dining with strangers. 

Always have sanitizer on hand

Let’s start by acknowledging the obvious. Yes, we’re all sick of sanitizer, but unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil.

By now, I think it’s safe to say we all have a sanitizer of some sort on hand but when travelling, I like to make sure I have extra options available to me when on the go. 

For example, when I’m on the ferry to Grand Manan, just something as obvious as touching handrails to go up the stairs from below deck or having your hands on the boat railings might cause you to squirm. While the boats are equipped with a public sanitizer, having your own easily accessible, or wipes to wipe down public seating or railings, will give you extra peace of mind.

When traveling, I always have the following with me:

  1. A sanitizer pump in my car (in the cupholder); 
  2. A sanitizer in my purse or bag;
  3. A mini sanitizer to throw in my jacket pocket if I’m leaving my purse behind;
  4. A pack of sanitizer wipes. 
Crystal Richard with bag in hand ready to board a ship on the pier while travelling safely in a pandemic

It might seem like overkill, but hey —I like to be well prepared. And those wipes will come in handy for more than just germ killing. They’re great to have if you’re dining on the road or spill your coffee in the car.

Give your accommodations a once over 

Here’s the thing. Hotels, Motels, and Airbnbs are currently going above and beyond when it comes to ensuring your room is clean and that you have the safest stay. Items like remote controls or in-room telephones, which were probably overlooked in the past, are likely getting wiped down more than they ever were prior to 2020. 

But if you’re easing back into travelling again, I get why staying in a hotel room or Airbnb that other people have stayed in recently might weird you out. To put your mind at ease, there are a few things you can do to help you sleep at night. 

First, take your sanitizer wipes and wipe down high traffic areas such as the door handles, remote control, sink faucets, toilet seat and handle, in-room phone, and tabletops. There’s a 99.999% chance this was already done, but if it helps you feel better, there’s no harm in being extra thorough. 

Next, prior to your trip, you can pick up a travel size of disinfectant spray. Give pillows and sheets a quick spray and, if you can, open the windows in your room just to air things out. 

Lastly, make sure you know what the current housekeeping situation is where you’re staying. Nearly every hotel I have stayed at since March 2020 has had housekeeping suspended and by request only. If you’re uneasy about anyone coming and going from your room, just let the front desk know that you would like to opt out of any housekeeping services.

Travel safely with your own essentials

Those of us who are eco-minded excel at this one, but one of my biggest tips for travelling safely during a pandemic? Bring your own essentials such as a travel mug, reusable glassware, cutlery, and straws. These come in extra handy if you’re sticking to takeout and plan to eat in the car or at the beach. 

Crystal Richard's travel bag essentials laid out including a beach combing magazine, wind breaker, reusable wipes, mask, scrunchie, sunglasses, sanitizer, reusable water bottle, seaglass bag, treats.

Trying to avoid stopping at gas stations or drive-throughs for snacks or beverages? Pop a cooler in your trunk and fill it with your favourite beverages so that you don’t have to stop. We have a super nifty plug-in cooler that runs while in the car and is great for transporting fridge items to and from our destinations. Do you drink like a fish? —I’m talking about H2O here folks—then fill a jug or two of water to keep in your trunk to top up your water bottle from the road.

Are you always feeling snacky? Pick up a bunch of your favorite snacks so that you’re never hungry in your travels. I’m a big fan of making a batch of muffins, cookies, or protein balls to bring with me and always have a couple of bags of Smart Sweets in my backpack. And in my mermaid opinion, no coastal adventure is complete without some salt and vinegar kettle chips. 

Be in the know about the latest rules

Regardless of what province you’re in, restrictions and regulations are constantly changing—and hopefully, loosening up a pinch come summertime—so if you’re hitting the road, and especially if you’re leaving the province, make sure you know what the rules are around the border crossings, masks and social distancing where you’re heading. Do a quick Google search to make sure there isn’t anything in the news suggesting you change your plans. 

And most importantly, wear your mask, wash your hands, and roll up your sleeve when you can. Let’s have a Maritime summer to remember for all of the right reasons! 

Disclaimer: I am not a health professional. These are simply my best practices for travelling as safely as I can in 2021. Some of you might be wondering, “Crystal, do you REALLY do all of these things every time you travel? Once upon a pandemic, yes, but if I am staying somewhere I’m familiar and where I know my safety is top of mind, I definitely don’t wipe down the entire room like I would have last summer and we’re open to dining rooms, so long as social distancing is in place. 

But many of you have shared that you haven’t travelled in the past year, so I hope that these tips and tricks are not only helpful but that they give you a little peace of mind when you do decide to travel again. And if wiping down your entire hotel room helps you have the perfect sleep in that big hotel bed, you do you! 

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