Of course, travel this year has changed dramatically. Many of us are just venturing back onto the road and taking precautions when traveling. Fortunately, a ski trip is one of the safer options available right now.
March and early April are some of the best months for cross-country skiers. With bluebird skies, long, warmer days, fast skating conditions, crust skiing—it's an ideal time to hit the road for a Nordic getaway.
The good news? The CDC rates a skiing spring break as one of its "yellow light" proceed-with-caution travel types, ranking just above camping for overall safety—as long as you follow some precautions. Here's what you need to know to plan a safer XC spring break getaway.
Take care in shared spaces. While our outdoor sport is naturally safer with miles of trails and fewer crowds, you'll still want to navigate restrooms, warming huts, and rental shops with caution. Make any indoor trips brief, always wear a face covering, and opt for online payment and reservations when possible to avoid contact.
Pack a buff and a mask. Lucky for us, cross-country skiing has no shared gondolas or crowded lift lines, but you might have to pass on a tight trail or duck into a restroom, so be sure to pack a face covering and have them on you at all times.
Check your accommodations online first. If you're staying in a condo or hotel, make sure they've clearly posted their COVID-safe policies and cleaning protocols, and that you feel comfortable with them, such as mask policies, room capacities in public areas, cleaning frequency, and room or housekeeping services.
And when you arrive, look for things like if the hotel check-in staff are behind Plexiglass shields or not wearing masks, or not cleaning counters after every customer leaves. Some travel experts recommend BYO pillows and pillowcases; just be sure yours are clean when you arrive and that you wash both when you return home.
Stay safe on the road. Try to plan for as few stops as possible, stocking up on gas, food, and water in advance. Keep wipes in the car and use them often after any gas trip or transaction.
Read up on regulations if you're crossing state lines. States have differing requirements for masking and multi-family lodging, so be sure you're up to speed if you're coming from out of state.
Don't share lodging. As cost-saving (and fun) as it is to pile two families into a big vacation rental, many mountain counties are now restricting short-term rentals to one family group only to avoid spreading the virus among family groups.
Do prepare to cook in. An efficiency room or rental condo that allows you to store some meal basics is ideal—the CDC recommends planning safer spring break trips where you can BYO groceries, remain self-contained, and eat meals in. If you're in a traditional hotel room, you can still enjoy takeout and keep a cooler handy for staples like drinks or yogurts, fruit, and sandwiches.
But by all means, order out! The CDC is still designating indoor dining as very high risk, so support your favorite local restaurants by dining outside or with an online order and curbside pick up, and enjoy meals in your room or as an impromptu tailgate on a bluebird spring day.
Know before you go. The Colorado Department of Public Health has an interactive map where you can track recent outbreaks before traveling, including the type of setting where the outbreak occurred.
At the end of the day, Nordic skiing is still one of the safest activities you can enjoy right now, and we all deserve a change of scenery, a breath of fresh air, and to enjoy a sport that inspires us and keeps us healthy. With a little planning ahead (and staying a skate-pole apart), we can continue to ski safely until the pandemic is behind us.