See our Advertiser Disclosure and Editorial Note here.
And another one bites the dust… Fortunately, I’m only talking about a trip, so it’s not a big loss.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about my plans to use up the remaining hotel certificates, all of them due to expire at the end of the year. That was right before delta wave hit Southern states with the vengeance, hence my optimism. Since then the situation has changed drastically, which required an attitude adjustment on my part.
The trip I was looking forward to the most was our Chicago getaway, due to take place in October. My husband and I were supposed to go without the kids, and I used my Hyatt certificates on this funky turn-of-a-century hotel called Chicago Athletic Association. Cookie-cutter it is not, at least according to the photos.
My in-laws agreed to watch the kids, my husband’s time-off request was approved, and everything looked splendid.
You know where this is heading, right? While I didn’t think Covid-19 would disappear by October, I did believe that getting the vaccine would protect my husband and me from getting a symptomatic infection.
Since then, it became clear that is not the case. According to many reports from other countries, the Covid-19 vaccine efficacy wanes over time. Just look at what’s happening in Israel.
And judging by evidence around me, I can see that’s definitely the case. Several of our vaccinated relatives got infected recently, some were quite sick. Yes, it’s technically anecdotal proof, but still. I’m convinced that breakthrough infections are quite common. Of course, living in Florida doesn’t help.
The good news is, you are still well protected from hospitalization and death, so to me getting vaccinated is a no-brainer. All of the vaccinated relatives have recovered at home. On the other hand, several relatives and friends who did not get the vaccine, ended up in ICU. One almost died. That tells me everything I need to know.
But this realization that vaccine most definitely does not protect from symptomatic infection has changed my approach to travel, at least in the short term. Yes, eventually we will have to learn to live with the virus, but we are not there yet. Not until everyone has a chance to get vaccinated and we have some therapeutics to treat it.
It’s impossible to say if Chicago will get hit by delta variant to the same extent as Florida, but I suspect that will likely be the case. Don’t get me wrong, Florida has totally mismanaged the pandemic. What’s happening here is a disgrace. But people forget that our vaccination rate is similar to many states up north, including Illinois.
Once the weather gets colder and people congregate indoors, things could get ugly there too. I hope not, obviously, but nobody knows. Since my husband is immunocompromised, I don’t think it’s wise to take on this kind of a risk. Chicago will still be there later, so maybe we can plan a trip in the future.
My main concern was getting symptoms right before our return flight, and having to quarantine for a week or longer. We have kids, and that would be a huge burden on my in-laws. I am absolutely not telling others what to do in a similar situation. It is a personal choice, especially for those who have been vaccinated. Plus, I’m sure I would be singing a different tune if I had non-refundable reservations.
Fortunately, my total loss was $50, and even that was avoidable. Originally, I booked flights using Southwest points. However, I do have Avianca Lifemiles and want to get rid of them ASAP. So, when I saw that there was award availability on the flight from Sarasota to Chicago, I went ahead and redeemed 15k miles on two one-way tickets.
I did also have to pay a booking fee totaling $50. When I decided to cancel the trip, I reached out to Avianca via Chat. The agent said he has submitted a request for penalty-free refund of miles, minus the booking fee. Sure enough, I got the miles back a few days later.
Yes, it stinks to lose that $50, but it’s not the end of the world. And it’s a good lesson for the future. Now is not the time to gamble on trips that involve nonrefundable hotel reservations or mileage redeposit penalties. Things can change rapidly, and nobody really knows what this virus has in store for us.
Why I picked Savannah
Since my husband has a long weekend off, I still want us to go somewhere. Gotta burn those certs! Plus, he just got his booster Moderna shot, so my assumption is that he will be relatively well protected for the next few months.
While I realize that no type of trip I plan will come with 100% “no sickness” guarantee, I think it’s possible to be strategic about risk mitigation. Since the current wave in the South seems to be peaking, it stands to reason that October may be a good time to go. No guarantees, of course, so I will play it by ear.
Neither me or or my husband like long drives, so I wanted to limit my search to places we can reach in 5-6 hours by car max. I also wanted to stay in an interesting hotel in a walkable city. This led me to Andaz Savannah. It’s 5.5 hours from our house, not too bad. Plus, I’ve always wanted to go there, so why not now?
Andaz Savannah ( Category 4) has very good reviews, and boasts an excellent location in downtown. The price for my dates is over $1200 for three nights, so this is a great use of Hyatt certificates.
I’ve read that weather in Savannah is pretty nice in October, so we could enjoy outdoor restaurants and parks. We will avoid indoor attractions completely, and wear masks when in public.
That, combined with our vaccination status should give us decent protection. And if one of us gets mildly sick, the other one can still potentially drive home, while taking all the precautions and avoiding people completely en route.
That said, I wanted to have a plan in place if we needed to quarantine. Normally, I recommend insuremytrip.com, but I’ve discovered that travelinsurance.com has better prices and has FAQ on Covid coverage next to each policy. I found out that I can insure our three-night trip and get quarantine coverage for only $36. To me it’s well worth it.
Yes, one might say that if I have a quarantine coverage, why not just go to Chicago? Well, I still would like to avoid airports, airplanes and big cities with lots of people. I’m also betting on Covid infection prevalence being lower in the south during October.
I plan to take rapid antigen Covid tests with me and also get tested right before the free hotel cancellation deadline (24 hours). It still doesn’t guarantee that the trip will go smoothly, but it should remove some uncertainty.
Savannah just seems like a better fit right now when it comes to my personal risk tolerance. And if things go awry, getting back to Florida should be much easier compared to Chicago.
Btw, the weekend in Andaz Savannah I was looking at had a three-night minimum stay requirement, and there was no way to burn individual certificates online. Fortunately, a phone call has solved the issue.
I must say, Savannah sounds just as exciting as Chicago. So perhaps, this is for the best. Now I only need to worry about hurricanes!
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.