Travel presents challenges in a pandemic world. Hub and I drove from New Jersey to Florida to visit the kids. We last saw them in the pre-covid, nostalgic days of January 2020. Spirit Air flies from our northern state to the kids’ southern sphere, but we remain wary of air travel. Instead of a 2 ½-hour plane ride, we spent days on the road. There are definite differences between pre-pandemic and pandemic travel.
Ten reasons a pandemic road trip is not like any previous ‘normal’ road trip.
- Less traffic. Yeah!
- More construction – the landscape seemed marred by orange and white striped construction barrels and cones throughout the trip. There is always construction somewhere, but roads under construction or repair stretched from Virginia south to the sunshine state. Occasionally we observed people working, but most of the time the obstacles, strung out for miles along the highway, slowed traffic and made the driver (usually me) irritable. Boo.
- Too many trucks. Another Boo. I hate the BFTs (big f**king trucks), but realize they mean jobs and people buying stuff and factories producing things and people getting paychecks.
- A car full of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. I stocked the car before leaving home. Every time we got out of the car, we immediately decontaminated when returning.
- Outdoor dining. We have not eaten inside a restaurant in months, only patronizing places offering alfresco seating. Many restaurants along our route had no outdoor tables. Two nights we consumed takeout in hotel rooms. One day we devoured a delicious food truck lunch in the car, no outside tables or picnic area along the highway.
- Unusual relief position. I rarely sat down on a toilet seat, except in the hotel room. I crouched. My thighs were not happy, but cooperated in the endeavor. Choosing a place to relieve ourselves that we hoped was antiseptic clean proved challenging. Boo.
- D-rated breakfasts. Many motel chains offer breakfast, traditionally a buffet offering cereals and breads, yogurt, eggs or pancakes or waffles. Not during a pandemic. Breakfast entailed a take-away bag consisting of a bottle of water, child-size juice box, small container of yogurt, some kind of stale bread (bagel, roll, biscuit), sometimes a tasteless pastry. Deserves a Boo.
- Cheap gas. Yeah!
- Hotel vacancies. No problem booking a room, no advance reservations necessary. Rooms were immaculate. Employees wore masks. Check in and check out was touchless, quick and easy. Yeah!
- Monotony. We like to break up hours of driving with an activity, but not this trip. No sightseeing, no window shopping or actual shopping, no exploring streets of cities or small towns. Boo.
I doubt a pandemic road trip rates high on anyone’s bucket list. It is a means to reach a destination when other categories of transportation – plane, train, bus, ship – are unsafe or unavailable. I look forward to a new normal when I am not fanatical about the cleanest rest room facilities in the land, when I can dine indoors or outdoors without a covid concern, and when I discover opportunities for adventure, all amenities open. Unfortunately the good times don’t appear to be around the corner – yet.