Last year was full of many upheavals, delayed dreams, deferred plans, forced separations and other challenges, including deciding when, if and how to gather with family—and when, if and how to travel. After spending early lockdown together, our family, like many with kids over the age of 18, dispersed this fall and barely saw each other because of Covid considerations. However, we did want to spend the holidays together. And after lots of calls and texts, we agreed that we also wanted to continue our tradition of traveling together. We committed to doing so in a new Covid responsible way, which I believe is not only possible but essential, if we want to keep ourselves and others healthy and also want to support the 10 percent of the world’s population that is employed in hospitality-related industries.Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer for more information on coronavirus travel safety, including the destinations that are open to travel, new COVID-19 hotel policies, the safest routes or transportation options available, future trip-planning advice, inspiration and ideas. Before we left, I spoke to friends who declared that they had no plans to travel until well after they’ve been vaccinated. “I’ve waited this long. I don’t want to risk it,” one said. Another confessed that she has become afraid of leaving home. “It’s like a muscle that I haven’t used,” she said. “I never used to be afraid.” And I understand those sentiments. We are creatures of habits, and habits can be hard to break. When you stop venturing out, staying in becomes what we get used to. I experienced that myself this spring and summer; I found it daunting to head to the airport for the first time. What is unfamiliar becomes uncomfortable, and yet once I read the facts about the safety of plane travel and the efficacy of masks, I felt confident that I could keep myself and others safe, and each time I have flown, I have grown more comfortable.I have also been driven by a different kind of fear—that staying home will create a world that is unrecognizable on the other side. Tourism accounts for 10 percent of the world’s GDP, and for countries like Kenya, Thailand, Greece, Italy and many more it is higher. In the U.S., more than 40,000 airline workers have reportedly been laid off and four out of 10 hotel employees are out of work. There are predictions that 50 percent of hotels may never reopen. Their owners cannot wait for the second half of 2022 for global herd immunity and that knowledge—and the awareness that traveling today to areas that depend on visitors brings hope for tomorrow—are why we have to figure out how to travel safely now. Related Covid Family Travel Safety Tips My husband and I were open to where we would go, but after stressful work and school schedules, the kids had strong opinions about what they wanted their vacation to look like. “Hiking and healing,” said my 22-year-old daughter. “America’s national parks,” chimed in my 20-year-old son. “The Grand Canyon at long last,” we all agreed. Bucket list. Wide open spaces and easy social distancing. Road trip. Our own American backyard. We also agreed that everyone would test and isolate before meeting up to become a travel pod. I would book accommodations where we could have free-standing rooms with space to eat our meals and gather if we couldn’t eat outdoors. We would drive ourselves and wear masks around others—even outdoors. It would be all-family, all the time and a chance to see more of America together.
“We are standing on the layer where the dinosaurs walked,” said our guide. The wind-swept gullies once sat at the bottom of the sea and then evolved into sand dunes, which morphed into stone with creatures trapped as fossils in their crevices. If staring up into the infinity of the universe scattered with stars feels like looking into the unknown future, then this was like facing the infinity of past history. Neither is comprehensible, but after a year of lockdown and what we agreed as a family in one of our long car drives was the most uncertain year of any of our lives, the yawning sense of space and time and our minuteness in them was contextualizing as concerns evaporated. In the face of all eternity, I was with those who matter most in my life. Lockdown has been a kind of forced hibernation, and traveling as a family again felt like emerging from a long sleep in a dark cave into a bright open space full of possibilities.
For me, travel has always represented an array of options, so many roads one can take, all with different outcomes. But as Covid has made us all so much more acutely aware of how interconnected our fates are, it now also illustrates the impact of our choices. We, as travelers, have to think just as deeply about what we bring and how we impact destinations as what we gain and take away. Never more have I appreciated what a sacred privilege travel is, one that should not be taken for granted nor undertaken without consideration of our responsibility—for ourselves and for others. This was a trip where we certainly traveled differently, and though we traveled to “hot” states, all of us stayed healthy and kept everyone else's safety top of mind as well—and we were able to support those working in hospitality, who tend to be daily givers of joys. (Even though I couldn’t hug or see the smile of my favorite server at Mii amo, Bev, I read the warmth in the wrinkles around her eyes when I showed up and when I told her we would be back with our Indagare Retreat in 2022.) Plus, our family added a dream trip to our stack of memories.
Related Covid Family Travel Safety Tips
Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer for more information on coronavirus travel safety, including the destinations that are open to travel, new COVID-19 hotel policies, the safest routes or transportation options available, future trip-planning advice, inspiration and ideas.
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