Before you ask, yes I believe COVID is real. I am pro-mask. I am currently wearing my RBG shirt as I type this. We have quarantined and isolated like everyone else. And yes – my family and I still traveled internationally during a pandemic. We were definitely not trying to flout regulations or stay-at-home orders. We live in Minnesota, where, at the time, there was no travel ban in place. I knew we could legally go, but we still wrestled with the ethics of it all, and we were curious what travel would look like, and where to travel to during a pandemic.
We Traveled Internationally During a Pandemic
This was definitely Plan B. Our original trip was planned for May. In March, a travel ban instituted so we rescheduled for November because AND I QUOTE “of course this will all be over by November.” Obviously, I could not have been more wrong. In fact, we had started ramping up to the second wave of COVID infections, and the death rate was at an all-time high. Logistically, there wasn’t much we could do. We were using my in-law’s timeshare points and the resort did not care about the global pandemic or our moral dilemma. It was “use it or lose it” time.
Disclaimer: you should always check your local regulations and CDC guidelines before you travel. Some states and countries require you to isolate for 10 days upon arrival and those are things you should certainly take into consideration. Also, my privilege of just being ABLE to travel right now, both financially and physically, does not escape me.
We took all these things into consideration. Ultimately, we decided to go and it the best decision we made all year.
Everywhere Is The Cleanest It’s Ever Been
I’m not sure why airports, airplanes, restaurants, and so many other places are so quick to tell you everything has been cleaned like we should applaud them. Is this the first time you have wiped these seats?! Why are you bragging about doing the literal bare minimum?! Although now I feel dirty for all the times I’ve flown before and THOUGHT things were clean, I actually was impressed at how clean everything was.
The airplanes have taken out all that junk in the seat pocket: those magazines no one ever reads, the puke bags that my kids liked to just open up and then crinkle around. So those germ deposits are gone. The only downside, I thought, was that there were no drinks or snacks served. I tend to be like a toddler, I need naps and snacks. I was disappointed I didn’t get my little bag of almost-stale pretzels.
Travel Is A Breeze
The airplanes (4 flights total because we’re not fancy enough to fly direct) were full. Even the middle seat was occupied, which I thought some airlines were leaving open, but what do I know?
Even though the airplanes were full, the airports were not very busy, so I’m assuming they are reducing the number of flights. It was nice to be able to get a Starbucks before we got on the plane and not have to plan for a 30-minute wait. Same goes for the airport McDonalds. My kids were able to eat their Happy Meal, cry about and also lose their toy all before we boarded.
Hardly a wait for customs and for once we didn’t have to entertain 3 small children by the luggage carousel while we eagle-eyed our bags and thought every single black bag was ours, just to have to haul it back on after the realization that no, this one isn’t ours either.
The resort where we stayed was limited to a 40% capacity so we basically had the pool to ourselves, and even better, the buffets. Everything was seemingly operating as normal. There were still excursions you could go on, boats to rent, and shows and entertainment every night.
One day my husband and daughter went on a snorkeling excursion. It turned out to be a private excursion since they were the only ones on the boat. The guide told them that cargo ships have stopped coming in so their food supply shipments have dwindled. This is a city whose economy is reliant on tourism and Covid is causing a devastating ripple effect.
Bring Your PPE When you Travel
PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment and it’s everywhere! You’ll see masks, gloves, shields, and hand sanitizer everywhere. On one of the flights, I was woken by a flight attendant because I hadn’t realized my mask had slipped down. It was the social equivalent of a nip slip. I felt like everyone was staring at me and was so embarrassed.
The restaurants at the resort had makeshift sanitizing stations for your shoes. You would step in a very shallow basin of disinfectant and then onto a rubber mat, before walking into the restaurants. They were not messing around with cleanliness.
At Least We Didn’t Have To Do Distance Learning
Distance learning has made me into a crazy person. Ok, fine, a MORE CRAZY person. There is crying every day at my house. These teachers are saints and they can have my kidney if they need it, but there’s no denying that this is so incredibly hard. We are reminded every single day that every single thing is different. We had an opportunity to spend 7 days back to “normal” and we took it.
Quantity Time vs. Quality Time
You’d think that after 8 months in quarantine together we would have had enough “family time,” but this was different. This wasn’t forced family movie night because we all just happen to be in the living room so we might as well watch something. This wasn’t us in our makeshift classroom trying to make sense of a 4th-grade word problem. This wasn’t my kids asking me the 230th question of the day and me rolling my eyes behind their backs.
We got to remember that we actually like each other. It’s so easy to feel hopeless when there’s no end date to quarantine or distance learning, but we escaped for a bit and recharged. We came back ready to tackle anything COVID is going to throw at us in 2021. Except for those 4th-grade word problems.