A few weeks ago, my family and I went on vacation (AKA “Coronacation”…AKA “Vacation: Plan D”) in the time of corona. I am happy to report, however, that there was nothing “plan D” about how it turned out! This trip fulfilled all of my original requirements for our vacation while keeping as socially distant and safe as possible. Really, it was a total win-win! And it’s totally attainable for your family, too!
Best Laid Plans
When we started planning our family trip for summer 2020 almost a year ago, there’s no way we could’ve foretold this insanity. We had a few goals in mind when we originally chose southern California (Plan A) as our destination.
- We’d never been there as a family.
- It was “far away” (as subjective as that is).
- It would be a memorable trip for the kids.
- We could be near the water.
- We’d be able to spend quality time together before our oldest left for college.
California filled the bill, don’t you think? Well, I mean, until you figured in airfare…and lodging…and the fact that it was looking more likely our son was going to choose an out of state school. Time for Plan B! This time, we stayed closer to home. No plane tickets necessary! For this plan, we booked a house on Lake Lanier in Northern Georgia. It still filled all of our requirements, so fantastic! We were set to go at the tail end of May, as soon as the kids were out of school.
And then the world imploded.
All of a sudden, we weren’t going anywhere. Plans A & B had both been scrapped. We were sad but, honestly, we were dealing with enough disappointments (no graduation, no dance recitals, nada). It didn’t do to dwell on something as superfluous as vacation, right?
Until June arrived and my friend Meredith told us they had booked a week at a resort in the Florida Keys and, hey! The rates were great and they were opening up the islands again, so did we want to join them? Uh…..YEAH! So, once again, I fired up the ol’ Amex card and booked Plan C.
Aaaaaaaannnddd, then we happened to see the reviews people were leaving about the resort we had booked. Apparently, they were not ready for visitors even though they had opened up. And neither Meredith nor I wanted to chance our families’ safety or waste our money. Time for Plan D and the good ol’ VRBO rental!
Our Final Destination
Thankfully, our final “Plan D” vacation was every bit as wonderful as anything we had previously dreamed up. And it met every single one of our original criteria!
Was it some place we’d never been before as a family? Yes! None of us had ever been to Marathon in the Florida Keys before.
Was it “far away” from home? Well, depends on your definition of far. But seven hours in a minivan with 6 people and a whole lot of their crap feels like a long distance to me.
Would it be a memorable trip for the kids? Absolutely! We’d never vacationed with friends before, so that would be new. And we had some pretty fun plans up our sleeves, as well.
Was it near the water? I mean, the Keys are islands and our rental home was on a canal. You could literally see the ocean from our deck. Yes, check, near the water!
And would we be able to spend quality time together before we started launching kids to college? Absolutely. 100%. Especially since we and the family we were traveling with each had our own rentals a couple miles apart from each other. We could be together as much as we wanted, but also concentrate on the needs and wants of our own people.
Traveling Under the Cloud of Coronavirus
All that said, of course, we were still traveling under the cloud and specter of a global pandemic. More than ever, we moms felt the need to get ourselves and our people out of our stupid houses and appreciate each other in new surroundings. How were we going to do that and yet stay safe? Was that even possible? I’d say, looking back at our amazing trip, that it is totally possible! And here are three tips for you to keep in mind so you, too, can have the best coronacation ever!
Coronacation Tip 1: Arrive
Choose your destination wisely, friends. Begin by asking yourself if the place you want to go is operating under guidelines and restrictions that you feel comfortable with. In our case, the Keys were doing a better job with mask requirements and crowd control than our own county was, so that was great! Then, consider where you want to stay. We only looked at AirBnB or VRBO rentals that were rated excellent for cleanliness and had outstanding recent reviews. Finally, think about what it will take for you to feel comfortable in your surroundings. For us, we made sure to bring along our own disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and reusable masks. Safety first and all that!
Coronacation Tip 2: Adventure!
I am here to tell you, friend, that you can abso-tively, posi-lutely have some excellent adventures even during a pandemic vacation!! You just have to be smart about it, that’s all. One day of our trip saw us packing a cooler of sandwiches, chips, fruit, and drinks we had made at the house and hanging at the beach with our friends. The beaches weren’t crowded, we had plenty of room to ourselves, and we remembered to bring masks for when we needed to use the facilities. On another day, our dual-family group rented a pontoon boat and jet ski for the day. We spent an absolutely unforgettable day boating, riding the jet ski, hanging out on a sandbar, and eating another homemade picnic lunch. It was unanimous among all 10 of us that that day ranks right up in the top 5 days of all our lives.
But what about food? We’ve talked lodging and we’ve talked adventure. But peoples gotta eat! Well, to keep that safe, I made one big trip to the grocery store when we got there. We had packed up some food from home, but anything fresh was purchased upon our arrival. We cooked all of our breakfasts and lunches at our rental. For dinners, we liked to eat out, though. Thankfully, Meredith and I were of a like mind with this, too. If a place had outdoor seating for 10, the servers were masked, and we didn’t have to wait in a crowd, then that was the place for us! If we had to eat indoors, that was no longer an option. Thankfully, in the Keys, those criteria still left us with a whole lot of really good options!
Coronacation Tip 3: Relax!
Now, then. Last but not least, the most important key to a successful coronacation is that you RELAX!!! (And yes, that did need 3 exclamation marks.)
If mama ain’t relaxed, ain’t nobody gonna relax. If mama ain’t gonna have a good time, then why the hell did you go on vacation?!
Read that last bit again if you need to, okay? Take a second to remind yourself that you’ve done your due diligence. You are doing everything you can to give your family some semblance of normalcy in an otherwise crazy time. Then, relax! Find some quiet, read a book, have a fancy coffee from a coffee stand. Sip a fruity, boozy beverage with the people you love.
Because here’s one thing I know for sure about coronacation… It eventually comes to an end and you’re right back in the reality you managed to escape for a while. Enjoy every second you possibly can. Do it bravely and safely and all will be well. And, we all need a few really good days right now, don’t you think?