Traveling during COVID was a big decision for my family. Accustomed to traveling a lot and already having a spring trip cancelled, we were anxious to get out of town. We love our home, but like most people, our four walls were looking a little repetitive and I’ve done all the house projects that I can (afford anyway!). Craving the beach we considered traveling by air, but quickly nixed that idea. As regulations and COVID outbreaks are ever in flux, there were just too many variables. Besides, we live in California for goodness sake, we have an entire coastline here! Taking all reasonable precautions, we ventured down to an area we had never explored. After a few nights away, I want to share our experience to help others who are thinking of flying the coop soon!
The drive was about 5 hours which meant stops for eating and bathroom breaks. Pro tip if you’re taking a road trip — research what is open! The rules regarding restaurants allowed to be open changed in the midst of our trip. We really had to plan our stops based on the counties we were driving through. The kids packed snacks to have in their seats to avoid the “I’m hungries” every 20 minutes. I drank way less water than usual for fear of pleading for a bathroom break every 20 minutes as well. A drive that far was not ideal, but we managed.
En route to the beach we were in prime wine tasting country. We found some wineries who offer tastings in outdoor spaces where they come to you with each pour. Others were open for the purchase of a glass to enjoy on property, but no tastings available. Some weren’t open for service at all other than wine club pick up. Many were open by reservation only and some could not accommodate non-drinkers (aka the rest of my family). Usually I look for kid-friendly wineries but all of these restrictions made me take my research a lot further in depth. Long gone are the days of just stopping in. Take the time to call ahead so you aren’t disappointed when you arrive.
Our Hotel Stay
We stayed at a beautiful hotel and were happy with the experience. Most hotel websites seem to show that the are pretty pro-active in taking proper precautions. The staff was often seen wiping down pool loungers and door handles and all wore masks. Valet was complimentary but we used the self-park lot. We opted out of having our beds made each day and just exchanged our used towels for clean ones instead. Staying in a hotel didn’t have any more of an “ick”‘ factor than usual for this germ freak. I did bring my own Keurig to enjoy my coffee on my ocean view balcony each morning. You may have a different “ick” scale than me but I never liked using coffee machines in the room pre-COVID — definitely didn’t want to now. Be sure you check out the cancellation policy before booking — I found many were really flexible. Having an ice machine for our ice chest and a refrigerator in the room was helpful too.
Shopping and Eating Out
Eating food prepared by others will always run the risk of something going awry. You’re either ready to take that chance or not. But we had no issues. Employees wore their masks and cleaned appropriately. I had a package of wipes to wipe down my own table if it felt necessary and brought our own hand sanitizer as well. We were surprised that many of the employees in the touristy shops weren’t wearing masks. We begrudgingly wore ours, knowing it was the right thing to do. To avoid extra trips out (and to save money) we packed more food than usual. We had fruit and muffins to eat for breakfast and brought charcuterie board-type snacks for the beach to stave off lunchtime hunger. The hotel had an ice machine so we loaded up our ice chest each day before heading out. We definitely ate more fruit than we usually do on vacation by bringing our own. While kids think they can live on chicken strips and fries alone, I like to keep up somewhat of a healthy routine.
A Word About Masks
You need multiple masks if you are going to be gone for a few days. They are like underwear and need to be changed frequently. We each had one mask. Mine was filled with make-up, so I knew which side should be on my face but it looked disgusting. The rest of the family couldn’t keep track of which side belonged touching the face. The kids were apt to set them on tables and we were constantly touching them as we went in and out of shops. Bottom line- it felt incredibly unsanitary to put them on our face by the last day. Either bring disposables or buy extras.
What an incredible reward! The reason we came! Social distancing was not an issue as we sprawled out in the sand. Walks along piers and paths less traveled were beautiful and refreshing. My kids got to jump in the waves and be carefree; something none of us have had the luxury of lately. It was the recharge we needed — a reminder of God’s great work and greater days ahead.
I can’t tell you if traveling is right for you. There are so many factors. I can tell you this: As places are starting to reopen, it felt nice to put some money into the economy of a town that depends on tourism and has suffered from the closure. It felt good to explore new places. It was nice to be away from my home where I always feel like I must be doing something and just relax. It felt good to make memories as a family. It was really nice to chat with strangers, see people having fun and remember that living in fear does NOT need to be our new normal. I will stop there before I get my soap box warmed up. Bottom line- you do you. If you’re traveling- have fun, be safe and tag me in your photo! I hope this was helpful! Do you have other helpful tips? Share them below!
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