The pandemic has changed many things about our lives. For us, one of those things is whether or not to travel. While we stayed close to home in the spring, we began to venture out in early June. As we have done so, we have been careful about wearing masks, social distancing, and minimizing our exposure to others. But we have begun to travel again, although on a more limited basis than is our norm.
Our family went on our annual trip to Hilton Head in early June, soon after the area opened to non-residents. While there were more people on the island than I expected, I felt safe. We stayed in more than we normally do, only dining out a couple of times, and were careful about that when we did. We spent our usual time at the pool and stayed away from others while doing so. We wore our masks, social distanced, and minimized our contact with others. All ten of us arrived home from that trip COVID free.
We decided to forgo any international travel, thinking that it is not yet time to travel outside of the U.S. We have felt that it was safe to go to our beach property on Oak Island, NC, and have done so more often than usual these last few months, due in part to not travelling elsewhere. As we have done so, we have felt safe, taking the necessary precautions that have been recommended/required by local and state officials. We have dined inside restaurants, walked the beach, and shopped in grocery stores. I have not, however, shopped in other stores as I normally would.
I took my first flight since February this week, when Mike and I travelled to Key West for a few days. (Mike had flown once before due to a death in our extended family, while I drove home from that trip after staying with the family for a few days.) The flying experience was different than normal, but I was pleased with the decisions made by Delta Airlines to keep us safe.
Delta has blocked the center seats on its flights, which made me feel safer than I would have had a non-family member been seated next to me in the center seat. The only food/beverage offerings were those in closed containers. Disinfectant wipes were provided.
Key West reopened to non-residents in June and has one of the strictest rules regarding the pandemic in the country. Masks are required on all people six years of age and older, and only to be removed when eating or drinking while sitting. Social distancing is in effect in most places.
The businesses are serious about following the laws regarding the pandemic and keeping their guests safe. The same is not as true for all of the tourists.
While many people we saw on our trip to Key West did wear masks, not all did. When I saw someone not wearing a mask, I moved as far away from them as I could. We are all aware of the politization of the pandemic, which is most obvious regarding the mask requirement. While I do not enjoy wearing a mask, I consider it my civic duty to do so. Not just because it is required by the authorities, but because it is the right thing to do. If there is any chance at all that wearing a mask protects others, I can’t understand why anyone would object. Whether we agree with the science of this or not, why would we not take this precaution if we can? I understand that some people have a health condition that precludes them from wearing a mask, but not the number of people who seem to be mask aversive. I think about this the same way that I think about emotional support animals. I do not believe that all people who say they need an emotional support animal really do. Not all who refuse to wear a mask do so due to health reasons.
Key West is a very laid back and casual place. What I enjoy about the city is the ability to walk everywhere one wants or needs to go, looking at interesting and even beautiful sights. (One thing I do not enjoy about the city is the vulgarity found on t-shirts and signs in some shop windows.) The weather is delightful this time of the year, unless you are longing for Fall and 60 to 70-degree weather! I love being able to walk into many places and hear great live music. The fresh seafood is plentiful, and the happy hours for food and drink make eating and drinking quite reasonable. As one who no longer drinks alcohol, my happy hour savings on drinks are minor, but I still enjoy the savings on food. Since I am not a late-night person, I am glad to enjoy an early meal.
Travelling again feels that life may be returning to some sense of normal, although it is a new normal. We are not totally there yet and will not be as long as we have to wear masks and social distance. But being out in the world travelling again is a beginning. Attendants on the airplane and in the airport lounge were so gracious, and thankful to have us. Several of them said to us, “It is nice to have you back.”
It is nice to be back.