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Not long ago, I wrote a post on burning all of our hotel certificates before they expire. In it I’ve mentioned that we soon plan to take the kids to an IHG Orlando resort with a waterpark. That stay had to unfortunately be cancelled due to worsening Covid situation in my state of Florida.
My husband and I don’t feel confident that some sick child won’t jump out of the water and cough into my unvaccinated kid’s face. Even though being outdoors is relatively safe, this type of vacation just seems way too risky at the moment.
The situation in Florida has changed in literally a matter of weeks. Our hospitals in the state went from relatively normal occupancy on July 1st to being overwhelmed in the span of just one month. So, the forecasts from most experts on how we would almost certainly have a quiet summer proved to be incorrect.
Once again, the key to avoiding financial losses and disappointment during this time is by being flexible. Fortunately, I still have five months to use these certs, so I simply rescheduled our stay for an early fall.
If the situation doesn’t improve by then, I will reschedule again. I had good sense not to tell the kids about our plans, so no harm is done. Hotel points and most miles are actually ideal for travel during the pandemic. Even certificates are great as long as you live in a tourist area, like I do.
Navigating this new normal
It goes without saying that the pandemic has dragged on far longer than any of us anticipated in March of 2020.
Many folks in this country (and around the world) have decided that it’s over for them, and that’s that. It certainly is the case for most Floridans. I can understand wanting to get back to normal, but for my family it’s simply not an option until my youngest is fully vaccinated.
Until that happens, all of our travel and school decisions will have to take into account this inconvenient reality. As much as I hate it, we’ve decided to keep him in virtual school until he gets the vaccine. My husband and I also still wear a mask when in public, and try to avoid crowds. Not because we are concerned for ourselves, we just don’t want to accidentally bring it to him. Despite all the hysteria in the media lately, I don’t see any reason to lose sleep if you’ve personally been vaccinated. But there are many in our society who don’t have that option.
I absolutely don’t mean to imply that other families should also choose virtual school. It’s not that simple as everyone has their own unique situation. It’s a complicated area, and there is no “one size fits all”. For us it was a no-brainer, since our county has the lowest vaccination rate in the state, and masks in schools are optional. YMMV
That said, we all have choices when it comes to travel. So, without sounding preachy, I would like to encourage folks to postpone a Disney trip to Florida to a later date if at all possible. I’ve written a similar post last year, and the same principles unfortunately apply now.
Even if you believe that the dangers from Covid are overblown, hospital data doesn’t lie. Right now our hospitals are slammed, and if anything goes wrong (not necessarily Covid-related), you may not get the medical care you deserve. Simple as that.
Hopefully, this wave will peak in a week or two, and things will calm down by fall. Frankly, you couldn’t pay me to go to Disney in August anyway. Way too hot.
If you are absolutely determined to come to Florida, I recommend sticking to beaches in areas where you can be relatively isolated. Just watch out for red tide that’s currently raging along the gulf portion of the state. See daily sample map here
Once again I recommend making only refundable reservations unless you are leaving within days. Between Covid, hurricanes threat and red tide, travel to Florida is dicey at the moment, to put it mildly.
What about cruises leaving from Florida in a near future? I wouldn’t go with the current set of restrictions in place. To me, they don’t go far enough. But it’s a personal call. Nancy has written about her plans for Disney cruise in October, and her reasoning is sound. She has mentioned that due to safety protocols, she and her daughter will probably be safer on the ship compared to school. I totally agree with that, and Disney does have a lot of precautions in place. They can’t mandate vaccination for all passengers, but their hands are tied due to Florida governor’s decision.
Since our son won’t be attending traditional school this fall, our risk assessment is a bit different. Also, my husband has several major health issues and is on immunosuppressants. While I’m relatively confident that the vaccine should prevent him from being hospitalized, I’m not ready to roll the dice on cruising. It’s possible we will go at some point, but it will be a very long time from now.
I’m absolutely not upset about it, even though my family loves cruising. Let’s face it, nobody has to cruise, and travel companies are free to set whatever restrictions they feel are necessary for their business to be successful. Don’t like it? Don’t go. There is also a tricky matter of complying with state regulations, no matter how ridiculous they are.
At this time, IMO old people and those who are immunocompromised will be better off avoiding cruises from Florida. It’s just not the same as checking into a hotel because you can’t leave whenever you feel like it. And if you get really ill, you can’t just drive yourself to a nearest hospital. Let’s not pretend that this type of travel is the same as going to an isolated cabin in the woods.
Meeting my family in Europe
This is a very tricky situation and I’m not sure how it will get resolved. If it gets resolved. So, over the last year my home country of Belarus has turned into “North Korea” of Europe. This is no longer an exaggeration, and if you follow the news, you probably already know that.
Land borders are sealed, but you can still fly in and out of the country. While I refuse to go there myself, my family can potentially meet me in Turkey and a few other countries I’m not interested in visiting.
The problem: all except my mom are unvaccinated. They are absolutely not against vaccine per se, they just don’t trust Sputnik V, the only option currently available in Belarus. I can’t say I really blame them, as my reference to North Korea implies. However, this is the case of either taking a chance on Sputnik V or getting infected with Delta variant and hoping that your immune system won’t let you down. There is no third option.
But beyond obvious health implications, there is an issue of planning a trip to Turkey, which requires either a negative Covid test or a vaccine certificate (Sputnik V is accepted). The latter is a much better/easier option for Belarus residents. Not to mention, I don’t feel comfortable with my dad flying to Turkey unvaccinated and potentially getting hospitalized there. He keeps saying he will gladly accept Pfizer or another vaccine developed in the West, just not Sputnik V. I told him I would happily mail it to him if that was an option. Alas…
So, for now we wait. I’m hoping things will settle down in a year or two, though I believe that vaccination proof will be integral part to resuming international travel. Maybe by then there will be Pfizer vaccine in Belarus. I, for one, would pay good money so my family could get their hands on it.
For a control freak like myself, not knowing what we will be doing next year or even month is tough. But that’s the reality we live in. Life is unpredictable, and you never know what’s waiting just around the corner. So I will try to take things as they come, and not to overthink my travel plans too much.
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.