travel diaries: COVID edition

Hi friends, it’s been awhile since I last made a post! Late September through the end of October was a whirlwind of many activities. From my best friend’s wedding to other small trips around the Northeast, I felt as if we were making the best out of outdoor activities before winter picked up. Not only was I actively doing things outside the house again, but I am also in the middle of transitioning back to my old office job as the WFH life was A) not working out for me mentally and physically and B) it changed the way I felt about my current job. So I took the offer to return to my old job for not just the higher wage, but to also bring back some positivity to my work life. It’s like what they say, it doesn’t matter what job you have as long as you were happy. And the job I’m returning to definitely made me happy.

During my gap week between my last job and my new/old job, I took the opportunity to visit my family on the west coast. And I know what you’re thinking….why the hell did I take a trip across the country during the COVID surge? It has been a year since I last saw my parents and my brothers and a lot has changed with them in the past year. My reasons are personal at this time and I would feel guilty if I didn’t go when I had the opportunity. And because I booked my flight as the cases were starting to rise in not just Maine but throughout the country, I felt extremely anxious about flying. I was also having Election Anxiety so let’s say my mental health was not all that great during those few days before I flew! Can we still get an AMEN for Biden/Harris though?

Before my take off date, I was watching YouTube videos of other travel bloggers who have previously flown during the pandemic as a way to mentally prepare myself on what to expect. I made sure to pack extras of everything like hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and disposable masks. I also took a COVID test to make sure I wasn’t carrying the virus by any means. Nevada did not have testing/quarantine requirements but I wanted to make sure I was negative because I didn’t want to make my family sick. Also, I flew by myself since my husband was recently promoted at his job and did not have enough PTO to go with me.

When I went to the airport, it was the emptiest I’ve ever seen it. I was given a small Purell wipe by the flight stewardess as soon as I boarded my plane and once I sat down, I wiped my hands and my entire seat down like there was no tomorrow. The airline I took was Delta and if there is any airline that is taking traveling during a pandemic seriously, it’s definitely Delta. Their cleaning process goes above and beyond as they sanitize the entire plane with these cool sanitizing devices that look like super soakers as well as installing high quality air filters to filter out any bacteria (this was what I was most afraid of was the recycled air!).

Obligatory airport bathroom mirror seldie

In terms of food/beverage services on the plane, they give you a pre-packed bag of bottled water, snacks, a napkin, and a small packet of sanitizer. You are required to wear your mask throughout the entire flight aside from eating/drinking and the flight attendants WILL remind you to wear it if it’s off for any other reason. When I got to my layover stop, I saw a lot of food/beverage services closed and options were very limited due to the pandemic – my only options during my Detroit layover was McDonalds, sushi, and overpriced deli.

Snacks given out by Delta
Never been on a plane this empty!

The plane rides were not terrible and Delta has blocked off middle seats to ensure social distancing between passengers. However, on the plane ride to Vegas, it was the noisiest since they’re usually the “party planes” (aka college aged kids going to Vegas to drink, gamble, the whole shebang). But the view when we landed was really pretty!

View of the Las Vegas strip while landing

I monitored my symptoms during the week I was in Nevada and despite going out with my family almost every day, I lucked out with not contacting COVID during my trip. I stuck to a lot of hand washing, sanitizing after touching everything I came in contact with, and of course, wore my mask everywhere. I usually went out during the day and hunkered down at my parents house at night.

I spent a lot of time bonding with my family after a year long of being apart as well as some retail therapy. I also tried out some new food while I was in town! I fell in love with Pinkbox Donuts and Cafe Lola right in the Henderson area!

Pinkbox is a must if you’re in the Henderson area
If you’re a fan of ube, try the Purple Rain flavor!

Cafe Lola is a chic coffee shop/bakery that was more than just aesthetically pleasing but also tasted amazing! They had mostly breakfast and lunch options as well as yummy pastries and cocktails. I took my mom and my aunt out for brunch and we got hot lattes with designer art. Another thing that caught my eye at Cafe Lola was their 24k gold creme brulee latte, which by the way, was too pretty to drink…even though I drank it anyway.

my newest go-to whenever I visit my family!

And how was the Las Vegas strip during the pandemic you may ask? I didn’t spend too much time in actual Vegas since I was doing my best to be careful with where I went out. I did go to a few casinos – they’re pretty much everywhere you go in Nevada. The first one was South Point Casino right off of Las Vegas Blvd, a little ways outside of the strip. We went there for a family dinner with my other relatives in the area. South Point unfortunately did not look like they were social distancing as much as many people were sitting too close to each other at the slots. The only thing that seemed “CDC appropriate” was the plexiglass installed at the poker tables in the high roller area but their tables were still at full capacity. The casinos on the Las Vegas strip were much better about social distancing and enforcing the face mask rule. We went to dinner at Din Tai Fung in Aria and I thought $20 at the slots would give me a bit of a Vegas thrill (I won $12, whoo).

Din Tai Fung is the best fancy dim sum restaurant I have ever been to!

Aside from my fun and quality time with my family, I can say that traveling to Nevada was the safest I felt. On the way back however, my comfort level took a dip. I took a red eye flight from Vegas to Atlanta to avoid people on the way back but Atlanta wasn’t following CDC guidelines 100% of the time. Unfortunately there were some passengers and employees in their food service area not wearing masks and while people did remove their masks to eat, there were people walking around to their gates maskless and no employees were enforcing it on them.

If you do plan on traveling this holiday season, I would highly recommend you take caution as airports may start crowding and other passengers may not be as cautious as you are. Here’s what I recommend you do:

  1. GET TESTED PRIOR TO YOUR TRIP – I cannot stress this enough. Even if your destination does not require a negative test or quarantine, the smartest decision to take is to get a negative test before you travel. Not only will you be healthy, but you can keep other passengers and whoever you’re meeting healthy! It also doesn’t hurt to ask your family or friends to test as well so you can have a safe and healthy gathering. And don’t forget to get tested when you return home!
  2. REFRAIN FROM TOUCHING MANY SURFACES AT THE AIRPORT/ON THE AIRPLANE – Even way before COVID was a thing, many people are bound to get sick while traveling because of germs. Try your best to avoid holding onto the handrail on the escalator or touching a countertop. If you do, sanitize your hands afterwards! There are multiple sanitizing stations everywhere.
  3. BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER PASSENGERS AND CONTINUE TO PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING – Just because the airport/plane is empty does not mean to get up in someone else’s grill. If you’re standing in line to wait for your coffee or if you’re waiting to board your plane, do not, and I repeat, do not try to crowd around the employees and other passengers. It is not a race to get on the plane and you have to wait your turn to get called on anyways! Be considerate of other people around you and give them enough space to move around!

Depending on how the rest of the winter goes, I might not be traveling again for awhile – at least until the vaccine has been approved and our coronavirus numbers have been stabilized. As much as possible, I encourage you to stay home this holiday season to prevent the spread of the virus as we are, unfortunately, at an all time high in the number of cases. But if you do have to travel, I highly recommend you keep these tips in mind in order for a safe and healthy trip.

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