Traveling has definitely changed in this season of Covid-19. The rules seem to change daily or at least every two to three weeks as we move through the phases of reopening. Some states are even requiring signed documentation to enter from Louisiana and I saw lots of talk of cancelled reservations over the Memorial Day weekend. Whatever your experience has been, traveling is going to be different moving forward. I think that sharing our traveling experiences will help others navigate this new normal.
The beach trip we took Memorial Day weekend had two purposes. First, I wanted to see we were able to pull off a trip to the beach while social distancing. Second, I wanted to see how cheap we could do an overnight trip. I would say we did both of them successfully.
We chose to stay in Alabama because of the restrictions on entering Florida. After seeing friends have their Airbnb’s cancelled close to their arrival dates it is a good reminder for everyone to double check their existing reservations. Make sure you know what the policy will be for renting to Louisiana residents moving forward.
Social Distancing at the Beach
So let’s discuss the first part, social distancing at the beach. The term “new normal” is the current buzz phrase. It’s true that the way we do things is different but we can still do a lot of the same things we have done summer after summer. So the question was can you take a beach trip and social distance? Yes, you can. Is it simple or easy? Not exactly but I am hoping that this post will help you out a little.
I didn’t have a lot to go on with this trip. Justin and I talked about it and made a plan and just agreed that we would abort if we had to.
- Booking a Hotel: The first thing I did was find a hotel that was not on the beach. We have stayed in Daphne before and I looked in that area. I then called the hotel to book and asked a lot of questions about if the hotel was booked to capacity, what the cleaning protocol was and if employees were required to wear masks. They answered all of the questions as well as directing me to the covid-19 section of their website.
- Staying at the Hotel: I brought a few items with me to clean doorknobs, light switches and the remote in the room. We also brought our own pillows. We wore our masks entering and exiting the hotel. I planned to wait until we could ride the elevator alone but being that the hotel was small and wasn’t at capacity it was not an issue.
- Finding a Beach: We looked for a public beach that was away from the hotspots. I used this website to located which beaches we were targeting. WE used the public parking areas and then walked to the beach. Once we were on the beach we had to walk away from the showers and bathrooms to get to a space where we felt comfortable. The place where we set up camp families were spacing themselves out. We kept to ourselves in the water and I felt like other families and groups were doing the same. We also arrived early and left early.
- Food and Drinks: It was definitely more to bring to the beach than I would have liked but we brought everything with us. Lunch, snacks, drinks, water. I had a conversation with the kids before we left that we wouldn’t just be stopping for snacks.
- Eating Out: We only had one meal out. We chose a restaurant that was in Fairhope and had outdoor seating. Called the restaurant ahead of time to make sure that outdoor seating was still an option.
- Ask a lot of questions. My biggest source of anxiety in all of this has been not know what was going to happen or be expected of me when I get somewhere. Are they asking you to wear a mask? Do they have a hand washing protocol they want you to follow? Are they limiting how many people are entering? All things I would rather know upfront so I don’t have to be caught off guard.
- If you are uncomfortable, leave. Give yourself an out in any situation. This isn’t the time to worry about if someone thinks you are being weird or overreacting. If it makes you uncomfortable than you leave.
Inexpensive Beach Trip
So the I love the idea of being able to go on more trips during the summer but going to the beach is pricy. This trip was a test to see how inexpensively we could go to the beach for the weekend. I set a goal of only spending $300 on this trip to see if we could do it.
- We stayed in Alabama. Checking the rates it was cheaper to stay there as well as the fact that Florida was requiring Louisiana residents to sign a form to enter the state.
- Staying away from the beach was key. It was not quick or convenient but I was willing to put in the extra driving time to save almost $250 a night on a room.
- We packed our own food for the beach and snacks. I also brought waters and drinks. The only thing that we spent money on was dinner and we booked a hotel that had complimentary breakfast.
What would I do differently
The main thing I would change is how we set up the trip. This time we woke up early and drove straight to the beach and then came back to the hotel that evening. We spent the second day at the pool. When we do this again I would head to the hotel and pool the first day and then wake up early the second day and head to the beach to get an earlier start and better set up.