Vacationing During a Pandemic


Vacation means a lot of things..... exploration, new experiences, joyous memories with loved ones and possibly just some peace and quiet. Traveling has so many wonderful benefits for us including stress relief, a healthier lifestyle, increased productivity, quality time with family, giving us hope in terms of something to look forward to and the learning of new things. I know that not everyone can afford to take a lavish all-inclusive trip to Greece (heck we can't either), but a weekend camping trip has the same positive effects on our health.

Vacations of all kinds have been a big part of our lives and when the pandemic started, I found myself in the throws of depression imagining not being able to travel for an unknown amount of time. The shutdown hit Kentucky in March 2020, canceling my 30th birthday trip to see my family in California. From that point, for a few months, traveling came in the forms of driving back country roads through horse parks for hour.

Our September 2020 camping trip to Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon National Parks was quickly approaching and we had some decisions to make as planning was becoming more complicated. Do we cancel the trip? Do we go and accept the changes the virus would make on our trip? If we still went, how could we do it safely? Camping has a lot of upsides, one of which being that it is an isolated experience, which in it of itself was very covid friendly. The three parks we intended to visit remained opened during the pandemic, however, closed the visitor centers. Zion required tickets to their shuttle system to reduce the crowds, which we liked as the lines were must shorter. Since we had never been to those specific parks pre-pandemic, we had nothing to compare that trip to. However, based on previous trips to national parks, they were significantly less busy during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic. We didn't feel that our trip was any less fulfilling during the pandemic, in fact it may have been more enjoyable.

Flying domestically during the pandemic for the first time was an interesting experience, however, by the third time it was a new normal. During our first flight experience, Delta had a limited capacity and left the middle seat open and suspended their beverage service. Wearing a N95 or a mask in general may not have been the most comfortable thing to experience for a few hours but it was worth it to travel again. We became more mindful in terms of packing our carryon, which included hand sanitizer and disinfection wipes to clean the seat with. American was a different experience all together and not a good one. We were packed into that plane like sardines and sat next to people we didn't know, which was a little unnerving.

The second flight took me direct from Cincinnati to Los Angeles in March 2021 to visit my family after my estranged dad had passed away. Frontier was booking every seat, so I purchased a window seat in the front that had a little more room. Frontier was also continuing with their full beverage and snack service (ala carte of course). I did make a few purchases and only indulged if the person sitting next to me had their mask on. At this point, I was already fully vaccinated so that did ease the nerves.

May 2021 took us through international air space to St. John US Virgin Islands. I was less nervous for this flight as vaccines had been available to the public for longer so more people had been vaccinated. In addition, traveling to the Virgin Islands required a negative PCR test 5 days before travel that was uploaded into a government travel portal. Each request to travel was closely examined and then approved, which you had to provide proof of upon landing in St. Thomas as well as get your temperature taken.

Traveling during coronavirus has been a different experience that may be around for some times as cases surge with the delta variant and less people are willing to get vaccinated. Some may not agree with traveling during the pandemic at all but there are ways to do it safely. The economy took a big hit because of the virus and several industries continue to heal, especially the travel industry. I am glad that we have been able to still do what we do best, explore. I am not sure what our lives would be without it :)