I Traveled So You Don’t Have To

In mid-October, I was working on my midterms in my apartment at school when I got a text from my grandma asking me if my mom had talked to me about Thanksgiving. The last thing I wanted to discuss during midterms was vacation because it felt like such a distant break that I needed so badly. I told her no, I hadn’t heard anything but that I was sure I would learn more when I went home at the end of the month. 

When I went home, my mom brought up her thoughts on traveling for Thanksgiving - something we used to do a lot but I thought was off the table due to COVID (our family had been pretty strict during the whole pandemic). She said that yes, while we were not going to fly anywhere, we might drive to Florida to see our grandparents. At first, I got really excited because I hadn’t seen my grandparents since February, but then I remembered why we hadn’t left Michigan since then: A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. I asked my mom how we would stay safe while traveling and she said she hadn’t figured that out yet. 

A week later, she proposed a plan: we drive nonstop to our grandparents house, no hotels or airplanes. Between the four eligible drivers (my mom, dad, sister, and I) we could split the 18 hour drive evenly. My first thought was: my grandarents’ house does not fit seven. My mom agreed, so she began to look at rental houses. Unfortunately, all of the rental houses had thirty day minimums and we were only planning to stay for three weeks. Next, she checked to see if there were any first floor rooms at the hotel near my grandparent’s house, and they had availability, so it was settled, we were going to leave on Saturday, November 14th and come back to Michigan on Saturday, December 5th. 

As is normal in a pandemic, absolutely nothing went according to plan. The night before we left, my brother started feeling gross and my mom started to freak out, so they went to get tested for coronavirus in the morning. The test results weren’t goning to come back until Tuesday or Wednesday, so we had to figure out a place to go that wasn’t our grandparent’s house until then. In the car on the drive to Florida, we spent hours looking for a place we could stay, quarantine, and do virtual school (something my and my siblings still needed to do during the whole trip). We found a place about an hour north of my grandparent’s house and booked it. Unfotunately, we didn’t realize until after doing so that we were goning to arrive in Port Charlotte six hours before we were allowed to arrive at the house, meaning we would be in the car for 24 hours or more.

We were so happy to fimally make it to Port Charlotte, but that didn’t last very long. When we realized we were doing the same thing every day just outside instead of inside, my sister and I asked each other why we even went. Then, when we got the negative results from my brother’s and mom’s COVID tests, we were headed to my grandparents’ house. We were pretty excited - they have an amazing pool and live in a great neighborhood for walks and bike rides, something that I hadn’t done in a while because of the weather. All in all, Thanksgiving break was wonderful: we had time off from school and could just hang out, watch sports, and swim in the pool. 

Then, Thanksgiving came to an end, finals week was looming, and I was stressed with no privacy, no desk, and faced with so many reasons not to do my work. I hated Florida by Tuesday and started looking at flights I could catch home. By the weekend, we were all so ready to go home that we were not even sad at about leaving the warm weather.

So, here is my final assessment of traveling during a pandemic: no one got COVID-19 during our trip, but there was definitely a chance we could have. Nothing that we normally do to stay busy was open, so we spent a lot of time just watching TV, something we could do at home. We got take-out Thanksgiving dinner, so cooking with family and spending the entire day with my grandma didn’t even happen, and now, as I am writing this, I am behind on my assignments for class because of my inability to work efficiently while around my family and the lack of internet on the entire drive home. I went to Florida with my family begrudgingly, basically so I wouldn’t be alone for Thanksgiving, and while the weather was nice and I liked seeing my grandparents, I would not deem it worthwhile to travel during COVID and during online school.