Pre Pandemic, I travel was a huge part of my life. Travelling is my passion and I am fortunate to have a husband and son who feel the same. When our son was about 10 years old, by mutual agreement, we stopped buying gifts for holidays. Instead, we took turns choosing a destination to spend the holidays in. We continued this tradition right up to 2019, spending the holidays in Mexico City with our, then, 20 yr old. We spent the holiday arguing over where we go in 2020.
Fast forward to March 2020.
The night before we were about to leave on a three week road trip through Italy, we had to cancel the whole thing. It was our 25th anniversary that year and I had planned a dream trip for my guy and I. March 4th 2020 was the day our flight was to leave. The friend we were meeting in Venice was about to evacuate back to London. Rumour had it that Italy was closing it’s borders and people in the north were dying in droves.
We scrambled to cancel everything that night. Somehow, they let us cancel the car and flights. Even all of the amazing hotels I had chosen were fine with it. Needless to say, we were heartbroken but assumed a rescheduling would happen in the fall. Certainly, this Covid drama would be over by then. Having lived through SARS and thought we knew the drill. Who could have imagined, back then, that three years later, we are still dealing with the pandemic?
Mindful of travelling safely, the three of us dipped our toes in the water in August of 2021.
Not wanting to fly yet, we drove to the east coast. We stayed mainly in airbnbs to avoid hotels, we dined on patios and had the most covid safe trip we could manage. Our Segway ninebot scooters made the journey so we wouldn’t have to take taxis or transit. After almost 2 years of not travelling, it was magical. Honestly, I am happy that Covid forced us to finally tour the east coast instead of flying overseas.
A year later, covid still always on my mind but now with four vaccines under my belt, I felt ready to fly.
My husband and son couldn’t take any time off work, so I decided to go without them. This time, a friend and I planned a four week trip, mindful of keeping it as outdoors as possible. I wrote my story on packing for carry on only here right before we left in September.
We rented a car in Spain, we masked on planes, trains and buses and we stayed in airbnbs. Choosing places that were still warm and sunny meant we could live the whole trip outdoors. We managed the entire thing without getting sick, apart from my friend picking up a cold at one point. She is so old school.
On that trip, we road tripped through Andalusia, we flew to Marrakech for four days and then spent the next two weeks in Portugal. I didn’t realize how much I needed it, until I was there. My mental health has to be as important as my physical health. Taking this calculated risk was the best decision I had made in years.
Because I went on that vacation on my own, the family chose to visit Italy for our 2022 Christmas/New Year trip. It was to be our first time flying somewhere together since Xmas of 2019 and, again, we tried to keep it as outdoors and safe as possible.
I just returned from two weeks in Rome and Tuscany
We chose Italy because it was warm enough to, again, dine on patios and spend our days outdoors from morning to night. Well, also, just because ITALY. Again, I wore an N95 while actively travelling and tried to mask in museums and on the train. I will be honest that this time, I was not as diligent as I was on my fall trip so we all came home with a nasty cold. (tested daily for covid so I know it’s actually an old fashioned cold).
So, my tips on managing your safety mitigations if you are still wary but itching to travel are:
Wear A Mask
I know I have been a big fan of KF94s but with the high degree of transmissibility of these new variants, I now wear actual N95s with head straps when spending prolonged amounts of time in crowded indoor spaces. My two masks of choice are the 3M V-flex and the 3M 9210+ Aura. The pretty KF94s are kept for outdoors in packed crowds, on crowded ferries, a quick run inside a store or to use the bathroom in a restaurant etc.
My flight back from Lisbon in October was right after they removed the mask mandate and I have never been so grateful for my N95. It sounded like an ER waiting room, with half the people hacking up a lung, sneezing and blowing juicy noses for 7.5 hrs. The mask doesn’t come off until the plane is in the air and the air filtration system kicks in. Even then, just to quickly eat.
Rent apartments over hotels.
The less shared indoor air, the better. The weather was still lovely so we kept windows open during the day and we didn’t have to deal with crowded elevators and lobbies full of people. Plus, its so much more fun to pretend you live there for a while.
Eat outdoors as much as possible.
Go where patios are generally used year round. During the colder months in many places, they bust out the big heaters, offer blankets and it’s absolutely doable. If we did eat indoors, we ate in places that had huge, open windows and sat beside them. Again, fresh air is your friend. Because we did choose to take a calculated risk by travelling in the first place, we dined inside a few times but we really tried to chose patios.
Stick To The Outdoors
We also tried to visit sites etc that were open air as much as possible. We did go into some museums but, again, it’s advisable to mask. Everywhere inside venue we visited, we were surrounded by the black lung people. EEK. This is not the time for clubbing, my friends.
Rent A Car
If you are moving about, consider renting a car. I did take some trains and buses on my adventures but driving was so much fun and I didn’t have to deal with the Coughy McCoughyface crowd.
Insert vent: If you are sick and coughing your head off, at this point, who doesn’t throw on a mask? Have people learned nothing? I don’t want your cold/rsv/flu/covid/plague. Have we learned nothing?
Road Trip If You Aren’t Ready To Fly
If you just aren’t ready for 8 hours stuck on a crowded plane, road trip it. Pick a destination that is warm enough that you can spend your time outdoors, eating on patios. Hiking and swimming, outdoor concerts and beautiful, scenic drives. Camping, for those who indulge, is as safe as it gets.
At this point, as careful as we have been, we also realize that Covid is not going anywhere, any time soon. You either have to resign yourself to not travelling again OR you can try to make travel as safe as possible, always accepting that there is risk involved. Only you can decide how much risk is acceptable to you. For me, travel is so important to my mental well being that I have decided that I will do all I can to make it as possible. Not travelling again for who knows how long, is not an option for us.
If you don’t believe in vaccines or think covid is a cold or just don’t worry about it, don’t @me. This is advice for those of us who have been doing our best to stay healthy and keep our loved ones safe and healthy.
So far, I have managed a month of Canadian and 6 weeks of international travel safely. I am already planning a spring voyage. With all that said, I am going to tempt you with a new series:
10 Photos That Will Make You Want To Go To……..