Georgia winter travel: Where to stay, how to prepare

Rental cabin in North Georgia mountains sleeps 14
Rental cabin in North Georgia mountains sleeps 14

The holidays are upon us and with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, you may be wondering if it’s safe to travel in Georgia this holiday season. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated travel increases your risk for contracting and spreading COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19," according to the CDC. “Don’t travel if you are sick or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Don’t travel with someone who is sick.”

In light of the increase in cases in Georgia and surrounding states, you may be opting for a nearby road trip or a staycation instead of a lengthy trip this holiday season. According to U.S. News, traveling by car this holiday season may be your safest bet.

“The best way to travel during the pandemic is by car,” writes U.S. News. “Being isolated in your own vehicle eliminates having to spend potentially hours on a train, plane or bus in close contact with strangers. If you don’t have a car, consider renting one.”

When it comes to where you choose to travel to, the less crowded the better. “When considering accommodation options that are free from crowds, you might think camping is your best bet. For the safest experience, look for a campsite that allows for safe distancing or a very remote site where you are the only person or there are just a few other tents in the area,” according to U.S. News.

If you’re looking to camp out before the cold weather sets in, Georgia offers a wide variety of well-known camping destinations:

Cloudland Canyon State Park

This state park is located on the western edge of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, so it offers breathtaking views. Explore Georgia touts it as one of the most scenic parks in the state. “The most spectacular view into the canyon is found near the picnic area parking lot,” writes Explore Georgia. “Cottages are located near the canyon edge, while the parks walk-in campsites provide exceptional privacy for tents.”

Stephen C. Foster State Park

At this great camping spot, The Okefenokee Swamp serves as the backdrop. It’s also an ideal place for stargazing because it s a certified dark sky park by the International Dark Sky Association due to its minimal sky pollution.

Vogel State Park

Located at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Vogel is one of Georgia’s oldest state parks. You’ll want to keep in mind that the park is very popular during the fall when the leaves begin to change which may make social distancing an issue. “Cottages, campsites and primitive backpacking sites provide a range of overnight accommodations,” writes Explore Georgia.

Chattahoochee Bend State Park

This park is known for its amazing views of the Chattahoochee River. According to Explore Georgia, “RV owners will enjoy the camping section with sunny pull-through and back-in sites. Tent campers can choose from riverfront platform sites, walk-in sites and traditional developed campsites.”

If you’re worried about cooler temperatures, another option that may keep you safe during travel is choosing a home or vacation rental like Vrbo or Airbnb.

According to Business Insider, “After breaking down the risks of both hotels and vacation rentals such as Vrbo or Airbnb, the doctors and experts we spoke with agreed private vacation homes are likely safer than hotels because they come with fewer person-to-person interactions.”

“While there is no question hotels are working diligently to keep their hotels clean and sanitized, Airbnb has a huge advantage given that the renter is generally the only one occupying the property,” Dr. Neil Brown, K Health’s chief diagnosis officer told Business Insider. “With Airbnb’s new Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, the company provides a better option than public hotel spaces … Double-check to see if the host is participating in the program,” he said.

To keep guests and hosts of vacation rentals safe Airbnb released several guidelines for safe accommodations. “We’ve created a set of mandatory COVID-19 safety practices for both for hosts and guests of Airbnb listings, based on guidance from the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control. In addition, you should be familiar with general health and safety guidelines for COVID-19 safety, continue to monitor applicable government travel restrictions and advisories, and follow all national and local guidelines.”

SAFETY STRATEGIES

According to Airbnb and others to travel safely you should:

  • Sanitize your room upon arrival.
  • Bring enough masks and sanitizing products to last the duration of your trip.
  • Open your windows for ventilation.
  • Avoid any shared facilities.
  • Wear a mask and practice social distancing in all common areas and shared spaces.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

IN-STATE RENTALS

Check out the following Georgia Airbnbs for a safe and socially distanced holiday vacation:

Diamond Oaks Treehouse Skylight Suite

With room for two guests and a private bath, this Savannah suite is the perfect romantic getaway for couples or besties. “Nestled in a historic fishing village just minutes from the hustle and bustle tourism of Savannah,” reads the listing. “Enjoy a clawfoot tub en suite. Use the kitchen. Listen to records. Pet the cats.”

Cherry Blossom Yurt on Lookout Mountain

This unique and beautiful getaway sits on top of Lookout Mountain and features breathtaking views. “In winter and spring, the beautiful vistas of the Chattanooga valley provide total serenity. During summer, you would find yourself tucked away in a peaceful forest,” according to Airbnb.

Glamping Geo Dome near Carters Lake

This Ellijay destination rests on a far-reaching 7-acre farm and features forests, trails, streams and more. “Bike, paddle, hike, fish and stargaze from the magnificent deck,” reads the listing.

The Riverside Cabin

Did someone say a cozy cabin right on the river? This secluded getaway is perfect for social distancing. According to this listing, “The grounds include numerous walking trails and is conveniently located three miles from downtown Blue Ridge.”

Mountain Cabin On Cooper Creek

This stunning cabin is limited to a three-night stay during the holidays. “Close to waterfalls, Toccoa River, the Appalachian Trail, and about 20 miles from Blairsville and the quaint mountain village of Blue Ridge, GA,” reads the listing. The spacious cabin can accommodate up to six guests.

In Other News