With summer basically over and our kids going back to school today, I am reflecting on how differently the past several months turned out compared to what I had hoped. Before COVID-19 hit, I’d planner to take each of the older ones on a one-on-one trip to spend some dedicated time with each of them. One of these was supposed to be an international trip. Travel is one of the things that I enjoy most with my kids. I’m (generally) able to focus entirely on our experience together and unplug from work obligations for a few days, although that can be difficult as a consultant.

They were supposed to have various camps and sports to fill out the summer, which would have kept us very busy. Nearly all of that was canceled, obviously. Even my son’s fall soccer season has been axed. Normally, this might have meant we could travel more. The calendar really opened up compared to a typical year. But that was obviously not the case in 2020. I really wanted to travel, but we’d keep the summer limited to a couple domestic trips.

Las Vegas: Not My First Choice

Back in June I took the older of my two boys to Las Vegas for a few days. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll recall that Las Vegas is pretty much at the bottom of my destination list. However, it was were one of the only places that was both reasonably open and easily accessible from California at the time. With greater restrictions in the Golden State, I was itching to get out. I’d already visited Tucson to do some hiking in May and didn’t want to repeat that same trip.

Even though it was Las Vegas, we had a fun trip. My son and I enjoyed hiking in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, driving up to Mt. Charleston, burning a couple hours at the pinball hall of fame, and eating out along the strip. It was a great quick trip. I’ve really enjoyed our father-son travel over the past few years, taking him to places as close as Seattle and as far away as Taiwan. I’m super glad we got to do something this summer. Even if it was a trip to Las Vegas!

Ironically, I’d end up in Vegas a second time this summer for one night on a work trip to southern Utah. If only it was a different destination. Hotels for $17 per night is something I would take advantage of all the time.

Five Days in Florida

The only other trip this summer that I managed was a 5-night trip to Florida, with my two older kids. We had a family trip penciled in the following week, but for various reasons ended up canceling. My wife and daughter enjoyed a girls weekend before school started, and a third trip in August would have been too hectic. Florida was (sadly) the capstone trip of the summer for me.

Still, I am incredibly thankful that the kids and I were able to enjoy the several days away. Our four nights in Daytona Beach were awesome. We enjoyed swimming and splashing in the surf on more than one morning. A day trip to St. Augustine and another to the Ocala National Forest filled out our time in central Florida. The latter excursion will probably be seared into my daughter’s mind as one of the worst adventures we have had. More on that later. I still need to fully blog our trip.

My daughter managed to convince me to ride the Daytona Beach Slingshot. I’d only seen videos of the ride, and once she spotted it at the pier, it was all she wanted to do. I’m not a major amusement park guy, and rides rarely make me nervous. This one did. I’d not experienced the jitters like this is years. According to my daughter, I screamed far more than she did. Memories.

Final Thoughts

I know that travel was completely out for some this summer due to COVID-19. Once May arrived and I started digging into the numbers, I personally decided that I am entirely comfortable traveling domestically (and internationally, if countries are open). Flights on our most recent trip were more full, but this is something the airlines need to simply stay afloat. The number of people traveling has been increasing, but it still wasn’t anything close to a normal summer.

I’m hopeful that summer 2021 will be better. I already have one international trip penciled in with my older son, and I’d like to put a full family trip abroad on the calendar as well. Our youngest will turn 7 next summer, and I’d love to explore somewhere in Europe for a couple weeks all together. As COVID-19 subsides and places will open up, we’ll have a better picture of what is possible.