Even though I’m still pretty far behind, I like writing about our travels in chronological order. Today, I’d like to break that a bit to talk about something timely: traveling during COVID-19.
Our goal to visit 50 states in 5 years is the largest goal Brandon and I have ever set. It’s really important to us that we see it through. When the pandemic hit, I knew it would impact our travel plans. After several months of observation and research, I felt that it was time for us to pick up where we left off. Two weeks ago, Brandon and I returned from a seven day road trip. We visited Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia.
I must acknowledge how fortunate we are to be able to travel, especially during COVID-19. Neither of our jobs have been affected negatively by the pandemic, and we’ve been able to save money while working from home and going out less often. We do not have children in our home or elderly family members we care for, so we felt okay with the assumption of risk. Here’s how we stayed safe on the road.
Before the trip, I created a list of all state and local guidelines for COVID safety. (This resource from the CDC was especially helpful.) Safety measures varied greatly, depending on the state or even the county we were visiting. I checked the list frequently leading up to the trip, and it was a great resource while we were on the road. Knowing what’s expected where you’ll be traveling is the most important step, in my opinion.
Vermont was the most COVID-cautious state we visited, and I appreciated the measures they were taking to keep residents and visitors safe. Brandon and I were careful to wear masks and social distance throughout the entire trip, regardless of guidelines.
We stayed in six different hotels during the trip, and at each destination I felt that staff members were taking safety seriously and striving to provide great guest experiences. They all had slightly different takes on safety, though, which was interesting. In one hotel, all “high touch” items had been removed from the room (throw pillows, coffee maker, ice bucket, etc.). In another, all of those items were available in the room. None of the hotels were providing housekeeping, except by request.
I initially thought we’d stay in Airbnbs, as I perceived them to be a safer option. However, I’m really happy with the quality of service we had at the hotels. We spent more time in our hotel rooms than we would during a “regular” vacation, so I really appreciated extra levels of care.
Brandon and I both love good food, so dining is always a major part of our travels. Every place we dined was at partial capacity, and some restaurants required reservations or contact information upon arrival. We ate many of our meals outside, and on three occasions picked up meals to go and ate at our hotel room.
I packed an enormous snack bag so we wouldn’t need to frequent gas station mini marts during our long driving days. Hilariously, we ate almost nothing from the bag the entire trip. Our meals were pretty filling! Our snack bag also contained plenty of Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer.
I dedicated the most planning time to researching things to see and do in each state that would be safe and distanced. In Delaware, that meant staying in a hotel right on a riverwalk and walking to dinner at an outdoor beer garden. In Pennsylvania, we spent some time at Presque Isle State Park. On a weekday morning, the park was empty and we enjoyed a break from wearing masks while getting some fresh air. In Detroit, we rode scooters along the riverfront.
We did visit one indoor attraction: the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Brandon and I enjoy visiting museums, and I really didn’t want to miss this one. They knocked it out of the park with visitor safety, and I was thoroughly impressed. Tickets had to be purchased online for a timed entry, and there was a health screening before entering the building. Once inside, there was a simple traffic flow through the exhibits. A few exhibits had been modified for safety, but not in a way that detracted from the experience. There were hand sanitizer stations everywhere. Everywhere. I didn’t see a single patron ignoring the safety guidelines, either, which was extra impressive.
I don’t know when we’ll find ourselves in a museum again, but am so appreciative for the experience that we had.
It felt weird to be on vacation, to be honest, and I posted way less on social media than I have during previous trips. I’m sure it was some combination of fear of judgment and not wishing to appear boastful about our vacation. It’s impossible to predict what will happen in the coming months with the pandemic, but I feel confident that travel will be affected for quite some time. I’m thankful that we are able to carefully continue pursuing 50 in 5.
Our final trip of 2020 is in a few weeks, and it includes a couple of flights. I will be sure to report back on the airport experience once we’re safely home again. After that, our next major travel isn’t slated until May 2021! If you have any questions about traveling during COVID-19, leave a comment below.