Traveling During A Pandemic
Let me first start by saying that this travel diary entry in no way is encouraging travel right now. Traveling during COVID19 is a very personal and big decision to make.
For me, I felt that this was a good time to travel because I did plenty of research on my journey, and destination. I also took many precautions. What I found was that for me, it felt like this was the right time to go, especially since no one really knows what this winter will bring.
If you are considering a trip in the near future that requires air travel I wanted to share a bit of my experience with you. However, things change daily so I would highly recommend frequently checking the CDC website on travel.
This was a trip I was supposed to take in March, but literally just days before I was supposed to take off for my relaxing spa and resort bucket list trip to Miraval Austin the world came to a crashing halt and travel basically stopped.
Traveling now includes, wearing a mask over your nose and mouth. This starts the moment you walk into the airport. But not just any mask will do. Recently the type of mask allowed for air travel has changed. You are no longer allowed to wear a bandana or an N95 mask with a vent. I saw a handful of people with these masks and the airlines made them replace with one of the disposable paper masks. Thankfully during all of my flights, everyone cooperated and no one gave any issue. Masks must also be worn the entire time. The only exception is if you are eating or drinking.
Going through security was pretty easy. This was probably because in both of the airports where I had to go through security not many people were in line. One big difference in both locations was that I had to hand my ID and pull down my mask for a moment to see my face. The other change was that my tickets were not scanned at security, only when I was about to board the plane at the gate. Other than that, security didn't change much. I still had to remove my shoes, take out my liquids from my carry-on, and if I had one, put my laptop or iPad in a bin. I heard before leaving that if you were bringing snacks you had to put them in a clear bag and put in a bin, but that was not requested at either airport I flew out of. You also were allowed to bring a larger bottle of hand sanitizer, but just in case I had 3 smaller bottles to avoid any issue.
Waiting at the gate social distancing was obvious. People sat with 2-3 seats between them if not more. Everyone wore masks while waiting and only took them down if they were eating or drinking. Social distancing on the plane was great! Seats were called 10 at a time to keep a limited amount of people on the boarding bridge. This made getting on and off the plane a welcomed breeze.
I flew Southwest and I believe at least through the end of October Southwest is not selling middle seats to help with social distancing. I was fortunate that in three of my four flights I had an entire row to myself! Can you say sprawl out! This was so nice and I definitely felt spoiled!
Once on the flight, I pulled out the Clorox disinfectant wipes I brought with me. I wiped down my armrests, seatback button, seat belt buckles, and tray table in front of me. For me, this made me feel a bit safer. Not everyone did this and the number of people who did varied on each flight. On two of my flights, flight attendants came around before take-off to collect the used wipes. On the other two, I had to wait until they collected after snack service. As for snack service, ever since May 22nd, Southwest implemented a limited snack service which included a glass of water and a bag of mixed snacks. Many people passed. I also passed on all but one flight.
Having the entire row gave me a beautiful view out the window. I witnessed an incredible cloud show!
I did use the restroom in my layover city on the way (Nashville) and departing city heading home (Austin). Both bathrooms were almost empty and of course I made sure to thoroughly wash my hands. I also used my hand sanitizer freqently throughout my travels, especially right after I touched something.
Once I arrived at my vacation city traveling to the resort was also very safe. I had a private SUV, which I arranged through Miraval, waiting to pick me up. The ride to the resort on my arrival and then again from the resort to the airport upon my departure included only the driver and myself in the car, and we both wore masks the entire time.
Miraval took the extra steps and it was pleasantly obvious that they were committed to my well-being. I never felt at risk the entire time of my stay. Their elevated standards included a disinfected, sanitized and sealed room, my classes were very small and a couple was just me and my instructor so it felt private. The spa was open but with limited spa service offerings. I didn't mind because they offered exactly what I wanted - a much-needed pedicure and a massage. During both services, masks were worn the entire time. I'm not sure how many guests were there while I was, but it definitely felt like much less than capacity. There were many times when I only passed one or two people across the campus which made social distancing a non-issue.
I'll be writing about my Miraval experience next - which was magical. To say I could live in the Miraval bubble would be an understatement. Loved every minute of it and would definitely like to go back. Hopefully, this pandemic will end soon so travel can be more easily taken. However, because of this, I do feel that some pandemic changes will be with us well into the future. At least they are for our well-being and really weren't a bother when you know it's to help keep us healthy and reduce the spread. As of now, once I returned I self-quarantined as a precautionary measure. It's been a week and knock-on-wood I feel fine. Although as we all know, I could have been exposed, and have no symptoms so to be safe I'll continue to stay home. Luckily I'm still working remote and lucky for my dog, Bentley, I'm here to stay for a while.