Vacationing During a Pandemic

“This is what a 2020 sandcastle looks like.”

I know…pretty dumb, right? I do not promote or encourage you to embark on vacationing out of your community during a pandemic. Do what you believe is right or based on your own circumstances or what’s permitted in your area. Our family is considered low risk and we have been trying to keep our immune systems healthy through the course of this craziness. Here goes nothing…blasting through the ‘summer of no,’ to a summer of maybe.

We have stayed within a 40 mile radius of our home for 5+ months. This is not normal for our small family. We like to go. We like to do. We are movers and shakers as you might say.

There are only so many times we can walk around the perimeter of our neighborhood, stay at a park, explore a backyard, remodel and paint, visit the zoo, go to the splash pad, paint rocks, and shop with little ones. MONTHS….HUNDREDS OF DAYS…THOUSANDS OF HOURS.

I acknowledge we are fortunate to have these freedoms and thankful for our health. However, during a typical summer we would be going, going, going, soaking up every bit summer has to have to offer. After all we are teachers and when fall approaches we are immediately re-consumed by the encapsulating demands of a ‘normal’ school year. It’s time to get out. To explore beyond are community. It was time. After all if the nation is deeming it ‘safe’ to return to school then it should be safe to go do something fun right?

We live on a budget so when it comes to vacation we almost always have to drive. My husband and I are no strangers to driving long distances with little ones in tow.

This round we are looking at 16+ hours (with reasonable traffic) of driving within two days. On the return trip my husband drove the entire day and the kids were troupers spending nearly 20 hours in the car. No kidding we listened to an entire audio book and baseball game.

Destination: Florida Hot Spot HOT SPOT! HOT SPOT! Covid-19 capital of the country or so we hear.

Take a deep breath and do some research.

We packed our typical essentials for 10 days of travel and vacation. Some new items we are including this year are: face masks for all family members with spares to switch out due to sweating/comfort/cleanliness, Lysol Max cover spray (don’t ask me where I got this I bought it in February), Clorox multi-surface spray, hand sanitizer, and Clorox disinfecting wipes. We wiped all door handles, knobs, light switches, hard surfaces, remote controls etc. after entering each room and sprayed the bed linens with fabric Max Cover Lysol.

I NEVER imagined I’d be disinfecting my hotel rooms while traveling (but here we are #2020). I don’t think we are going to be back to normal anytime soon so you might as well start somewhere. Usually, I’m the mom who lets my kids eat food they drop on the floor without a panic attack…and I honestly I still do on occasion.

When we left for our journey we did our research on state Covid-19 travel restrictions and checked what ‘stage’ each state was in. We traveled through ten states, but only stopped in a few for fuel, gas, and to stay. Some states seemed to stick to these guidelines and others I don’t even think people knew these restrictions were in place. So we did our own cleaning, washed hands, masked up, and used hand sanitizer when appropriate. Most of our hotels did trash and towel collection outside of your room (which was kind of nice). We never did find a hotel pool open in Georgia and never did figure that one out?

On departing we checked the counties we would be staying in. The county we had the greatest percentage and considered in a ‘hot spot’ was a mere .013% of contracting Covid-19 based on population vs. confirmed cases since March 2020. The county we spent the majority of our stay had only a .0069% likelihood in comparison to the county we live in at .0078% and had less restrictions in place than our home town.

If I can get my feisty, stubborn 2-year-old to wear a mask you can too.

We kept major theme parks off our list of things to do, but did venture to one of our favorite places to window shop, “Disney Springs.” Here we had temperatures and mask restrictions, but did not feel unsafe at any time. There were also staff members to monitor capacity at ALL shops and enter and exit only doors where established. As a family we had our first experience at Rainforest Cafe (this place is usually packed to the brim and host to a wait hours long). We walked right in and it was almost completely empty.

The only difference we noticed was that Disney was not able to sell their typical caramel apples because those are usually made onsite, no big deal.

The temperatures in Florida were very mild for this time of year, it only rained for a few minutes here and there, the rest was all sunshine. As a family we enjoyed swimming in pools, playing in the sand, wading in the ocean, eating outside, cooking most of our own meals, stargazing (we finally spotted the comet ‘Neowise’ in both Florida and West Virginia), walking to get ice cream at an ‘all cash’ establishment quite the rarity these days, boardwalk arcade, and just having the sense of much needed ‘freedom’ back.

We never encountered what the media presents. For months all I’ve seen are angry protesters, cities in flames, angry people refusing the wear masks, and packed beaches. (I’m not saying these don’t exist). Throughout all our travels in ten states we didn’t see any of this. Quite the contrary…others were taking precautions, keeping their distance, and enjoying their time.

Call it selfish, call it stupid…I’m glad we went. It was easily one our best trips especially in terms of weather, traffic, cost, and taking it easy. Our kids LOVED the experiences and were filled with so much JOY. A greatly needed vacation before the upcoming school year.

*Disclaimer: we did distance ourselves from relatives who are considered increased risk on our return from traveling.

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