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After publishing a post on our recent staycation in Siesta Key, I got an email from one of our readers. He also happens to live in Florida, and is currently planning to take his family to a local beach. He wanted to know what my thoughts are on staying in resorts vs. vacation rentals, as well as on dangers of breakfast buffets.
After some back and forth, he actually suggested I write a post on this subject. To be honest, I didn’t really want to get into this topic (again), because it’s like stirring a hornet’s nest in current environment.
But here we go. First, a disclaimer. I’m not an epidemiologist or an expert on anything health-related. I do my research and try to make informed decisions based on science. I also make sure to comply with local laws.
Why vacationing on Florida beach (the right way) is a low-risk activity
Viruses in general don’t like sun, heat and humidity. Granted, there is a lot scientists still don’t know about Covid-19, but some recent research shows that it’s not an outlier in this respect. Viruses also spread MUCH easier indoors. Almost all the outbreaks in China and elsewhere could be tracked to events held in closed, indoor environments.
But don’t take my word for it. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend this article The risks-Know Them-Avoid Them It’s written by Erin S. Bromage, Ph.D., who is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Read it. Share it.
Out of all the articles on the web, I think it’s the best one yet. It clearly, in plain English, outlines the risks of getting infected (and infecting someone) with Covid-19 and ways to protect yourself. After reading it, I won’t be dining inside a restaurant for some time, but I might do it on the outside patio.
My personal conclusion is that as long as we stay away from people, the beach is perfectly fine. Now, I’m not too sure about the public restroom. That’s why paying for lodging instead is the lesser of two evils, so to speak. Again, in my opinion.
How this information relates to travel
I was debating on taking my family to a local Hyatt resort later this summer. My kids absolutely love it, and I figured a corporation like Hyatt will take all the necessary precautions. However, I decided against it, and here is why.
If you look at NYC, there are two things that stand out, and those are population density and reliance on public transportation. It’s why the virus spread the way it did, no doubt. And what are multi-story resorts? They are essentially apartment blocks.
While the hotels can reduce occupancy, they can’t change the backbone of their operations. You will still have to share elevators with other travelers, and you will have to pass through the lobby, that happens to be an enclosed space.
The article I’ve linked to, mentions that there is enough evidence that this virus can stay airborne for 10-20 minutes. That’s several elevator rides. A person doesn’t even have to cough, just talking releases enough particles to infect someone. So, what that tells me is that I need to avoid hotels with elevators for the foreseeable future.
Moving on to buffets and club lounges. Same principle applies. Contained environment with several people in close proximity spells trouble. Even though my Hyatt club access certificate will expire before I will get a chance to use it, no free food is worth risking my family’s health.
And of course, don’t get me started on the fancy facilities. This particular Hyatt resort has an amazing water park with a lazy river. That means tons of other kids, who will potentially infect mine. Maintaining social distancing in resort pools is a pipe dream. Ain’t gonna happen.
That’s why I’ve decided to take my family to a low-rise non-chain “resort” with an outside entrance. It’s really more of a condo development. Our apartment will have its own A/C unit, and there will be no elevator or lobby to worry about.
It’s similar to what we’ve done recently in Siesta Key, but I’m hoping there will be even less people there. Btw, just passing someone outside isn’t enough of a risk, according to experts. Another thing I will do is avoid the resort pool completely. As I’ve mentioned earlier, trying to keep children separated there is a hopeless case.
I’ve already told my kids that we will only be going to the beach, and that’s it. They seemed fine with it, but we’ll see. By making this blanket rule ahead of time, I’m hoping to avoid drama when we get there. Fortunately, the pool at this place is nothing to write home about.
I’ll bring some food with us, and will do local restaurant takeout while wearing a mask. I do takeout locally, so this would be no different, really.
Assigning a risk number to certain types of travel
Obviously, staying home and not going anywhere (not even a local park) until there is a vaccine, rates as zero on the scale from 1 to 10. This is, by far, the safest thing to do, no question. But it’s simply not realistic to demand that everyone follows this mantra. We may not get a vaccine until the end of 2021. In addition, the kids might go back to school this August, and then all bets are off.
I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers or get into an argument. The pandemic is a great tragedy, and losing even one life is an awful thing. A few months ago, we lost my father-in-law, though not to Covid-19. Trust me, the fact that he was 77 didn’t make any of us in the family feel better.
But the reality is, as long as something is allowed by law, people will be doing it. Some are going on a cruise this August. While I think it’s totally nuts, it’s their right to do so. Btw, a cruise ranks as 10 on this imaginary risk scale.
What about other options? Well, driving to a cabin in the woods (and staying in the woods) ranks as 1, at most. If you bring your own groceries and wipe down everything with Lysol wipes, it’s just about the safest thing you can do. Common sense will tell anyone with common sense that getting worked up and shaming someone over this is downright silly.
My beach staycation plan probably ranks between 2 and 3, as long we avoid people as much as possible. And that’s definitely my plan. My husband has medical issues, and my 75-year old MIL lives across the street. I have every incentive to be careful, which is why I don’t plan on flying for at least a year.
I want to be very clear that I’m not persuading anyone to agree with my thought process. Everybody has to decide for themselves what’s an acceptable risk for their specific situation. We are dealing with life and death here, and being extra careful is everyone’s personal responsibility.
If you choose to completely stay home this summer and not leave your house, hats off to you, and I mean it.
P.S. Professor Bromage has just published a new post Flying in the age of Covid-19 Absolutely worth the read.
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.