Ugh, COVID-19. The most hated topic of 2020. After having trips in the spring cancelled because of the virus (a Caribbean cruise and trip to Florida, a trip to Amsterdam and European river cruise, and a beach week at Hilton Head in South Carolina), we all needed to get out of the house. Our Hilton Head week ended up being replaced by a last minute decision to head to our fave North Carolina beach, Ocean Isle. The extended family of seven packed up and hit the road at the end of May, looking for sunny skies and warm sand.
Travel is such a touchy topic and has been for months. When we visit Ocean Isle, we rent a house from a rental company (not an Airbnb or VRBO) and stay for a week. These rental companies ensure that the homes are clean, well-maintained, accurately represented, and that you have an on-site contact if any issues arise. We knew that the particular house we rented was unoccupied for 3-4 days before we checked in and we packed disinfecting wipes to wipe down all surfaces in the house when we arrived. A local grocery store offered online ordering with grocery pickup so that made getting groceries for breakfast and lunch at the house a breeze. Dinner was takeout from local restaurants, as many weren’t open for dining in (and we weren’t ready for dine-in yet anyway). This was also a great way to support the suffering local economy there who rely on tourism, especially in the summer months. North Carolina didn’t have a mask order at the time but we wore ours, coming from Virginia with a mask requirement, and we saw many others wearing masks during our trip.
On the beach, it was easy to socially distance. There was no need for masks due to the distancing and being outdoors. Our house had a private pool, again making enjoying the outdoors super easy and worry-free.
For the drive, we thought ahead and packed wipes and gloves for gas stations, and ate fast food in our vehicles for lunch on the way to/from North Carolina. We always pack drinks and snacks for the ride, which made going into gas stations unnecessary with pay at the pump. The occasional rest area stop felt fine with masks, hand washing, and hand sanitizer after we got back into our vehicles.
Planning for this trip took a little more thought and strategy than it did in prior years. But you know what? It was worth it. We all needed to get away, reset, and focus on trying to get some semblance of a life back. Everyone did all that we could to minimize any risk of contracting the virus while away or bringing it back home. We spent an incredible amount of time outdoors enjoying the summer, being in nature, and reconnecting.
If you have the opportunity to get out, even for a night, take the precautions to be safe, and do it. Your mind needs a break right now.