This time last year we were at Disney World, which ended up being our last true vacation for many reasons beyond our control. All of our domestic and international travel plans were scrapped in 2020 and now that we’re into the second month of 2021, we’re anxiously awaiting for the green light to travel beyond our outdoor-based day adventures. Our overnight experiences while PCSing during a pandemic were enough to make us not want to take a road trip to a destination that required a hotel stay. While we felt very safe with Marriott and Hilton, the added restrictions and limited hotel amenities just made it not very fun. And while we were technically allowed to travel via airplane throughout 2020, we weren’t comfortable doing so because both places we lived (Washington DC and Chicago) were considered hot spots and the thought of unknowingly transmitting the virus to someone was enough to overcome our desire to travel – it just didn’t sit right with us. But now that vaccines are being administered and the rate of positivity is (slowly) decreasing, we’re asking ourselves – when should we travel?
Don’t get me wrong – I know that this is a first-world problem that is soaked in privilege. So many people around the world have been impacted both economically and personally by COVID-19 and here I am wondering when my family should start traveling again for no reason other than personal enjoyment. Our reasons for not traveling last year solely had to do with keeping other people safe. No one in our family of four is immune-compromised and we always wear a mask so we’re comfortable with the mitigation strategies we employ when engaging in activities outside of our house and the limited risk we have of getting COVID-19. We did our part in 2020 – we pushed aside our selfish desires to travel and did what our family felt was right. And now that we’re in 2021, no one is telling us that we can’t travel. So when should we start traveling? Now? When our family (or at least the adults) are fully vaccinated? When our country reaches herd immunity? When COVID-19 becomes synonymous with cold/flu season and becomes just yet another illness to try and avoid getting during the colder months?
Part of the question has to do with the green light itself – there is a lot of confusion about who or what organization ultimately decides when it ‘safe’ to travel again (in quotes because there is always an element of risk associated with travel). There isn’t a specific travel ban that is impacting our family’s ability to book a trip – we can go anywhere we want domestically and a fair amount of places around the world. We can travel. My social media feeds are filled with people who are traveling for enjoyment and haven’t let COVID-19 derail their plans. Yes, the CDC still recommends postponing travel but also provides a long list of recommendations for keeping safe while traveling during a pandemic. Like many other industries, tourism has been hit hard by the pandemic and the ripple effects are far-reaching so it makes sense that people are wanting things to return to ‘normal’ in regards to traveling for fun. It is frustrating that there doesn’t seems to be a consensus as to when such travel and stay-at-home advisories will end and we’re admittedly chomping at the bit to get out and do what makes us happiest – exploring new places.
In full disclosure, we just booked a ski trip for Spring Break that doesn’t require airplane travel and involves renting a private condo that is dog-friendly. It will be our first ‘trip’ in over a year and we’re prepared to cancel should something happen but skiing truly is the ultimate pandemic winter activity. But I can’t help but wonder if we’re doing the right thing. Yes – our plans to travel internationally unfortunately won’t come to fruition anytime soon as evident by a lot of overseas restrictions so we’re prepared to focus our travel on domestic locations for the next year or two. But the question still remains, should we travel?