Food & Drink Health & Wellness

How to Support Local Businesses During COVID-19

Small businesses are really hurting during this time of isolation. Here are five simple and safe ways you can help support them so that they’ll still be there for you when the pandemic is over. (And remember—the best way you can help small business is by staying home, so that we can end this isolation period faster.)

Buy Gift Cards

As one restaurant owner told The Washington Post, “gift cards are like interest-free loans.” By buying gift cards now, you’re giving a restaurant or store an influx of cash without them needing to offer anything in return in this very moment.

And then when the establishment reopens, you’ll be able to redeem the gift card and help the restaurant by bringing in more business.

Write Positive Reviews

How many times have you picked a restaurant based solely on the number of positive reviews it has? Or dismissed one due to dismal reviews? Writing positive reviews on platforms such as TripAdvisor (our parent company) can help give your favorite local hotel, restaurant, bar, or shop an edge when they do reopen—or push them towards the top when people are searching for a delivery or takeout option.

Following and commenting on social platforms like Instagram or Twitter can help as well.

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Shop Online

Does that cute local shop you like to visit have a website? Many stores are still fulfilling orders online, so you can safely shop at home and have items delivered. Restaurants may be offering more merchandise (think everything from T-shirts to cookbooks). Taking the money you’d normally spend in-person and redirecting it to online sales can be a huge help to a small business.

If you’d usually order a book from Amazon, think about ordering it from a small local bookstore instead—sites like can help you find a store near you that accepts online orders.

Order Takeout/Delivery

Many restaurants that previously only offered dine-in are now pivoting to offer takeout and delivery. If possible, call/order online directly from the restaurant (rather than via a third-party delivery app) in order to spare the restaurant the fees those services usually charge.

Don’t forget to tip generously (for pick-up or delivery) to support the workers who are putting themselves at risk in order to serve you food during this time.

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Some restaurants and stores have started GoFundMe campaigns to help support their furloughed employees or to help keep the lights on. Consider donating whatever amount you can—even if you don’t want to donate to a specific store, there are plenty of funds to help hourly workers, frontline responders, and more.

Working from home? Make it comfy:

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Principal Editor for SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline for travel photos and advice.

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo,, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

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