I never thought it would be so difficult to plan summer travel. But heck, I never thought 2020 would turn out to be the way it has. This year has been entirely unlike any other time in our lives, and I honestly hope we never repeat it. I’m going to spare you elaborating on the past few months, including the pandemic response and shut down. I’ve detailed both how we’ve managed through this time and look forward to travel coming back.
At this point, I don’t see international summer travel happening. Everything coming from the EU points toward U.S. citizens being banned from Europe for much or all of the summer. I’d hoped I might be able to take one of the kids to a “tourist friendly” country like Greece or Portugal, but that’s looking less than likely.
Plus, it looks like this summer is going to be busier than I wanted on the work front. I have one summer work trip, a second potentially on the table, and five weeks of solid project needs that require my attention.
Still, I’d like to get away. I had three options initially on the table. As of right now, spending ~5 days in Florida with the two older kids is the top potential plan. We’d then have a weekend at home, and then take off for a few days as a full family of five locally here in northern California.
Florida? Sound crazy? Yes, I know the news is reporting rising COVID-19 case numbers. But I’m not phased.
Travel to Florida During Coronavirus? The Downside Isn’t What You’d Think.
This morning I searched for flights, finding the exact itinerary I hope to book. Next thing I knew, I had opened a news story about the rising COVID-19 case count. Today, the Sunshine State reported 5,511 new cases of the virus. Yikes. Sure, this is among a population of 21.5 million, but it’s four times what we observed two weeks ago.
The tables have turned for Florida. When the virus was spiking in the NYC area, Governor DeSantis imposed a similar requirement on travelers arriving from the northeast. Now it looks like Floridians are subject to the same requirement. Violating the quarantine would lead to hefty fines.
Still, I’m not turned off. I’m definitely of the opinion that there is little use hiding from this virus. We’ve had more cases in our rural county. Not a ton, but it’s a worry. I visit grocery stores a couple times per week, plus other places as needed. We’ve even eaten out now a few times.
Getting on a plane to Florida, especially given that I already traveled twice within the past month and a half, isn’t out of the question. We aren’t anywhere close to NYC levels of infection. And the death rates across the country continue to decline, which is encouraging. Airlines have enacted better precautions, at least as much as possible inside a metal tube. You can’t truly socially distance.
My one worry booking a trip to Florida is the need to quarantine. While it is unlikely that we would need to quarantine on arrival (assuming the numbers stay high), I’ll probably not be allowed back into the office when I get back to California. As working from home is less than ideal, this would throw a major wrench in things. I do have a backup plan to potentially use one of the other unoccupied spaces in the building, but I would need my boss’ clearance. If I can get this as a guaranteed backup plan, then all my reluctance will melt away.
The Actual Travel Plans
I’ve eyed a number of options for a stay on the mid coast of Florida, Atlantic side. There are some good hotel options from as far south as Melbourne to as far north as St. Augustine. This is at most 2 hours from Orlando International Airport, into which we’d be flying. Flights would be a one-stop United award itinerary on the outbound and an Alaska revenue fare for the return, using Chase Ultimate Rewards through the travel portal. Hopefully an upgrade would come through for the return from my MVP Gold 75K status,
Potential activities include visiting the Kennedy Space Center, which I know my 9-year-old would love, to spending a day exploring historic St. Augustine. We’d definitely spend a lot of time in the hotel pool and on the beach as well. Restaurants are open at 50% capacity, and entertainment/recreation businesses are open as well. There’ll be plenty to do.
Disney will likely be open, but we will be staying away. I have little desire anyway, but I have even less desire to brave the crowds and masks in the hot, humid Florida summer. We’ll make it there someday as a family. Not this trip.
Domestic travel is where it’s at this summer. I’ve looked at a good number of destinations, from Salt Lake City, to Jackson Hole, to Chicago, to even somewhere in the wide Midwest, like Omaha. I keep coming back to the Florida coast as the best of the ideas.
Sure, I don’t really want to get coronavirus, yet it’s far more due to the need to quarantine and recover than for the danger it actually poses. Whether people like it or not, the world needs to continue to operate. Lives and livelihoods depend on it. We won’t be able to escape the virus, that much is clear. I’d rather face it head on than keep waiting indefinitely. Shame away, but these are the likely summer plans.