On Pandemic Travel And Getting Back In The Game

On Pandemic Travel And Getting Back In The Game

So this year we resolved to get back to plane travel and go back to doing the things we love best – going on adventures in far off places that cannot be reached by car.

After over two years of not being in an airport, it was a little bit of culture shock.

Jacob is also much older than the last time we travelled somewhere with him all way back in 2019 when we went to Toronto and Niagara Falls, which meant a lot less complications than last time. No strollers, no diapers made it a lot easier to pack for him. And we got him his own special carry-on luggage, which he really loved. The Sotkke JetKids really made it a breeze to get him through the airport since he could sit on it and have one of us pull him. And during times we were just standing around, he could ride around a little to keep himself busy.

Jacob on his JetKids wheeling suitcase
Extremely endorse Stokke’s JetKids carry-on luggage for 3+ year olds at the airport.

Supposedly you can turn this thing into a bed for the plane ride, but we only had a 90 minute flight, so we had no real need to test it out.

In any case, for the first time since our trip to Turks and Caicos, we were officially back in the game.

On the one hand, settling back into some of the same routines that used to be second nature felt so good. It was amazing how excited I got just seeing the inside of an airport. I mean even just the most mundane things like walking around the various terminals, checking out JetBlue’s new outdoor space at JFK (ehhhh, I’d much rather have a proper lounge), and typing up a blog post at 30,000 feet just made me so HAPPY in a way I didn’t really expect. I’m very weird in that I generally really enjoy being in airports (at least once you get past the security lines). And while I don’t love being cramped on an airplane, just GOING somewhere felt so good.

Airport lounges are my happy place
Just being in an airport lounge (even an understaffed one with limited food options), relaxing with a drink, typing a blog post is my happy place.

On the other hand, being at the (hopefully) tail end of the pandemic… still meant you’re traveling during a pandemic. Masks everywhere, including on the plane. And while you obviously could take them off while eating/drinking, it was a constant reminder of the state of the world. Air travel is stressful as it is, but my friends you haven’t lived until you’ve sprinted through an air terminal in a KN-95 mask looking for your son’s dropped fleece 10 minutes before you need to get on the plane. At least my mission was successful, but huffing and puffing in a mask really sucks. I hate it and can’t wait until we don’t need them at all, even if I understand the need for them.

And boy oh boy, they are not messing around with Covid in Bermuda. Mask compliance has to be around 95%+, everyone is sanitizing when getting on/off buses, and social distancing is still quite commonplace. Strangely enough, when we booked this trip we were looking to get away from the pandemic (during the height of Omicron), but we ended up going from NJ where things were calming down, to Bermuda where in a lot of ways it still looked like April of 2020. I don’t blame them, it’s a tiny country and they want it to be as safe for the residents AND the tourists.

From talking to the locals, it sounded like they were hoping to be the “safe Covid” destination during the pandemic, but that it didn’t really pan out for them unfortunately. Tourism seems to have crashed for them along with everyone else, if only based on the minuscule amount of people on our flight (and other flights), at our hotel, and around the country in general. Taxi drivers confirmed that flights were arriving mostly empty, and the lack of cruises was destroying their business. Our boat captain from our sunset cruise told us we were his only group this month. Granted February is the extreme off-season here, but uh… yikes…

Somewhat ironically, it looks like they’re lifting mask (and other) restrictions in March. C’est la vie.

It’s also a very different feel being post-vaccination/booster for Ariel and I. I don’t think I would have been able to really relax if we hadn’t already been on the other end of that. For Jacob, who still can’t get vaccinated, we really didn’t think about it much. He’s been exposed so many times over the past two years, that if he didn’t get it yet (he’s never tested positive) we figured he was probably fine. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been so confident about either him or us.

So yeah, there was some pandemic stress (mostly in the airports), and being in an ultra-Covid conscious country, just our own home country seemed to be moving past everything was kind of strange considering vacation traveling for me has always been about getting away from the stuff we don’t like at home.

But here I am writing this at the new Bermuda airport (excellent) at the new lounge (underwhelming) watching the poor overworked lounge attendant try to meet everyone’s needs. This morning I stood on a rocky outcropping surrounded by turquoise water, and crashing waves. Last night Jacob got to steer a catamaran for about 10 seconds. We’re already planning our next trip to Hawaii – a true epic adventure like we haven’t had since our trip to New Zealand that launched this blog.

Spittal Pond nature preserve in Bermuda
Standing on a rocky cove on the edge of the North Atlantic and waves crashed all around me… Just another reminder of why I would rather spend money on travel than anything else.

We’re in our natural element again. New adventures are finally on the horizon again.

I think we’re finally back.

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