Travel During COVID-19: Should We Stay or Should We Go?
The temperature’s dropping. The wind is whipping. It’s time for my wife, Laura, and me to head south, leaving cold, uncomfortable Maryland for the welcoming warmth of southwest Florida. Or is it?
Though I once swore I’d never become a snowbird, a few years ago, we spent a week on Florida’s Gulf Coast, where friends had just bought a condo. Before long, we’d spent four winters there and then bought our own condo. I’ve become my parents.
But this year is different. COVID-19 has us wondering if we should or shouldn’t head south in a few weeks.
Pluses and minuses
There’s no doubt in my mind that I feel better in Florida. Last December, we arrived after I had a bad upper respiratory infection. The minute I stepped out of our car, my body felt better. Really! In Florida, it’s June in January. I can swim outdoors, and eating outside is the rule, rather than the exception. Laura and I have a condo we haven’t yet slept in. Florida is a powerful magnet.
But we’re too old to drive 18 hours straight, and that means an overnight stay in one of the hotels along I-95. Our room at the TownePlace Suites was clean on our Florida to Maryland trip back in June, and we wiped it down thoroughly ourselves. But things seem worse now. There are also those roadside rest stops, and with an MS bladder, there are a lot of those stops to make, which is a concern.
There’s something else. Our doctors are all here in the Washington, D.C. area, including our primary care physician, our specialists, and my neurologist. If one of us were to get sick, with all due respect to the healthcare providers in southwest Florida, where would we receive better treatment?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn’t much help in this case. Its “If You Travel” recommendations simply state what we’ve been told month after month: Wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands, keep your hands off your face, and avoid sick people.
The World Health Organization provides some travel advice, but what I’ve found there so far is pretty general and about 10 months old. AAA has two good suggestions for auto travel that I hadn’t seen elsewhere: Pack your own lunch to avoid stopping to eat, even at a drive-thru, and if you feel uncomfortable at a hotel, restaurant, or rest stop, leave. If there are too many people there, or if masks aren’t being worn, leave.
Stay or go?
So, what should we do? I’ve been leaning toward going. I’ve even made a hotel reservation in South Carolina, just in case. But as I’ve been writing this, I’ve started having doubts.
What do you think?
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