Hello friends! It seems like it has been a few weeks since I shared anything with y’all, and for good reason. Jody and I took last week off for a vacation getaway to Maine! We had the absolute best, most rejuvenating time and I can’t wait to share more about our trip with you. I’ll be sharing more of a recap in the next few days, but first I wanted to share a bit about our experience traveling during the pandemic.
First and foremost, I’d like to say that I think everyone has to define their own level of comfortability when it comes to doing just about anything during these times. If you follow state guidelines and feel safe enough to travel, then do it. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to do so, then that’s okay too. This is a weird time and we are all responsible for making our own decisions based on what makes sense to us.
Our trip was definitely a memorable experience, and not just because it was a good getaway. A lot of additional planning and precautions were involved in making this trip happen so I wanted to share a few tips in case you are too considering a getaway in the near future.
- Define your level of comfortability. Jody and I have been taking precautions very seriously since March. We actually were about 48 hours out from booking our trip to Greece when COVID started to consume the media and the world. We actually had a few “backup” trips planned in case Greece didn’t work this year (funny how that happens!), which included a road trip to coastal Maine. We aren’t comfortable eating indoors yet, and prefer to not be around crowds or large groups of people. After much (much!) discussion, we decided that we were comfortable enough to travel somewhere within driving distance and to a destination that was more remote. We even held off on making any reservations until about three weeks out because we knew that things could change in a matter of hours.
- Be strategic when planning your activities. When planning this trip, we ultimately chose our destination based on what kinds of safe, socially distance activities that we do. I figured we should go north, because we wouldn’t want to spend most of the day outdoors in the south due to the heat and based on my previous experiences in Maine, I thought a little trip to Vacationland would be the perfect place for outdoor activities as well as a safe getaway. We knew we wanted to hike, enjoy the fresh air and relax, so we made those the focus of our week. We also did not participate in any of the sailing or sightseeing tours that we had originally planned – not because they weren’t taking precautions because they were, but more so because we felt safer not taking the risk. We also researched what local restaurants offered outdoor dining or carryout, so we never had to eat indoors.
- Follow local mandates and protocols. This one may seem obvious, but it does require a bit of research. Maine required any out-of-state visitors (other than a few of the surrounding states) to either quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or to provide proof of a negative COVID test that has been taken in the past 72-hours. We were fortunate to be able to have access to a COVID test, so that we didn’t have to quarantine for our entire stay, plus it was nice for peace of mind that we weren’t spread the virus. We also took this into consideration when it came to making stops along our road trip. We packed a lunch and ate in the car, and didn’t have to stop for gas until we had reached Maine’s boarder. We also wore our masks anywhere when we were in close proximity with others.
- Bring extra sanitized necessities. We packed a bag full of only sanitizing supplies that we could easily access in the car. When we did stop for gas, restrooms, etc, we would use grocery bags to handle the gas pumps, hand sanitizer whenever we stepped out of the car and disinfectant sheets to wipe down countertops, door handles and light switches when we arrived at our rental cottage. We also packed our own sheets and bedding to use – probably overly cautious, but it did provide a peace of mind knowing our bedding was clean and ours.
- Be flexible. After all, it is a pandemic. Many restaurants and tourist sights may have abbreviated menus or shorter hours, so your plans may not go “as planned”. We ran into this issue a lot more than we anticipated – we had planned on having dinner in a local town on our first day before heading back to our cabin to later realize only three restaurants were opened on Monday nights. I also have special dietary needs, so finding a place to eat that had options that I could eat was challenging with the abbreviated menus. Gratefully, we had planned on eating at our cabin for a portion of the week, so bringing groceries and snacks ended up working out great for us!
I will also add that we felt that the precautions that the businesses in Maine (as well as the few rest stops that we stopped at!) took added to our level of comfortability. Every store had a hand sanitizer stations set up right when you walked in the door, many provided disposable masks in the event you didn’t have one, and most limited the number of people in each building at a time. Tables were distanced at restaurants and even on the hiking trails, people allowed distance when passing another on a trail.
Overall, we are so thankful that we were able to take this trip. It was amazing to get out of our house for a few days, have a change of scenery and take a break from the chaos of this year. Traveling, among other things, is just weird right now, but still possible, even if it is different than we are used to. If you are considering making travel plans and have any questions about my experience, feel free to leave them in the comments below!