How I Renewed My Passport In 5.5 Hours

Before you hop on this journey to passport renewal utopia, let’s just say it’s rather on brand for me to take some out-of-the-box measures to get shit done (I play by the rules, but this passport renewal experience isn’t necessarily the vibe for everyone). Tl;dr: if you have a real thirst for international travel, some extra airline miles, and friends with couches in various major US cities, this could be the solution for you!

As you might imagine, I didn’t do too much international traveling in the last year-ish. I was lucky enough to post up in Bermuda and work remotely last fall with an old Bermudian college pal, Caitlin (and holy smokes, shout-out to all my night owls—being 1 hour ahead of ET, when you work east coast hours, was a game changer). Whilst in Bermuda in October 2020, my passport was expiring, and there was an impending hurricane ahead of my return to NYC, so I was able to go get an emergency passport (valid for 1 year) issued at the US consulate on the island, in order to get home to Brooklyn.

Fast-forward to September 2021, Labor Day weekend for Caitlin’s wedding in Bermuda. I had not even thought about my passport since I was last in Bermuda, thanks to, you guessed it, COVID. For US citizens, Bermuda merely requires that your passport is valid for the duration of your stay. So, my lil emergency issued passport, expiring in October 2021, worked just fine for me to take my 90-minute flight from NYC to the island.

A few days into my trip, I received a call… from Paris. And, when Paris calls, you answer! This full story is for another time, but I was in the thick of some *virtual* discussions for an exciting new project, and needed to pop to France the following week to talk shop, IRL.

Unlike Bermuda, most countries require 3-6 months’ passport validity beyond your arrival date in order for you to enter their country (basically, so they don’t have to deal with you getting stranded on their turf). France requires 90 days. Meanwhile, I had just over 30 days validity left on mine…

Before COVID, there were third party services that you could pay a fuckton of money (~$400-$1000) and they’d help rush you a passport in 24 hours to a week’s time. Those services are no más—you now need to work directly with the US government to renew that bad boy.

Pro tip: If you have any interest in getting it renewed in this lifetime, do NOT mail it in via the standard renewal process. AND before you waste 30-60 minutes of your life calling to make an appointment, ensure you’re eligible for expedited renewal. You either need proof of an emergency or urgent travel (aka a booked international flight that’s within 72 hours of your (hopefully) soon-to-be passport renewal appointment).

To Get Your Passport Renewed In 72 Hours or Less, Follow The Steps Below:

  1. Pull up your confirmation email for your upcoming travel
  2. Call the national passport information center: 8774872778
  3. Wait on the phone for like 45 minutes—it sucks, but it’s worth it
  4. Explain your situation (i.e. your passport is about to expire and you need to travel abroad on X date). Just get to the point; there’s no need to embellish (also that’d be illegal and bad karma).
  5. The rep will ask for your date of travel, destination and booking confirmation code. If they don’t have an appointment available  in your city, ask if any other offices in the US have availability. (This is the step where you have to be particularly committed—I flew from NYC to Houston, as it was the only office in the country that had an opening due to a cancelation.)
  6. Once your appointment is confirmed, they give you a confirmation code (write it down! And don’t lose it). They will give you a courtesy call 24 hours before your scheduled slot to remind you.

Prepping For The Big Day

You’ll need the below items for your appointment. I was able to take care of all of this down in Houston one day in advance:

The Big Day!

Just like any important meeting, show up a little early! The appointment is inside a government building—bring your ID and all of the aforementioned items, but travel lightly if you don’t want to get slowed down checking in with security (you’ll have to remove electronics, jewelry, etc). 

My passport renewal appointment was scheduled for 9/8 at 8am. I showed up at 7:30am, and met some new pals on the security line who had similar stories as I. One dude was a fellow Brooklynite who was as wild/curious/reckless (call it what you will) enough as I to fly down to HTX to get things sorted for his upcoming trip to Mexico City. 

After bidding farewell to my electronic cigarette at security, I headed upstairs and was ushered to a counter where I submitted my docs, paid the fee, and was given a receipt stamped with a pickup time of that same day at 1:30pm.

Depending on when your travel date is, your pick up time will be either that same day or the following days ahead of your travel. When you return to pick it up, they’ll have you verify that all the info in your passport book looks good—then you’re good to go!

Sure enough, 1pm rolled around, and I had a brand new, crispy passport in hand for my 9/9/21 flight to Paris!

Here’s the thing: best case scenario (which is what happened), I got my passport in time to cross the pond. However, worst case scenario, if things didn’t work out (i.e i forgot one of my forms, etc. etc., who knows), I was able to explore Houston, a new city I’d never been to before.

Images: Manu Prats / Stocksy; Jaime Getto

Being Pregnant In a Pandemic Made Me Realize My Travel Habits Were Toxic

If I was to describe my pre-pandemic life, you could easily tell what I did for a living simply by seeing the suitcase by my door and the heavily stamped passport. Up until COVID-19 decided to decimate all that we held dear, I made my living as a travel writer for the past three or four years. But now that the world has come to an indefinite standstill and we’re making like hideaway hobbits, I’ve had to pull a pandemic pivot with my career, like countless others in my industry and many others. 

But if there’s been a silver lining to the whole “my adventures as a travel writer coming to an abrupt halt” thing, it’s been that I’ve acquired a whack-load of introspection. I’ve taken some time to reflect upon the places I’ve traveled to (nearly 70 countries) and it dawned on me that many of my travel habits were actually toxic. This realization came from an unlikely source: my pregnancy

In lockdown, my husband and I were grateful to have some solace in a safe space to strengthen our relationship (and as a result, why we decided to try for a baby). But in pre-pandemic times, I hardly ever saw him. I was hopping on a plane every 2-3 weeks, chasing foreign destinations, deadlines, and pitches. However, what was once exhilarating quickly became exhausting. I was always in a frenzy. While my body was physically in Abu Dhabi, for instance, my mind was elsewhere. I was obsessed with chasing that elusive notion of being a “jet setter”, someone who could boast about how she visited X amount of countries in a short period of time. And I’m not a travel influencer by any stretch of the imagination, but clearly something was causing me to dread the feeling of having my feet on solid ground in one place for too long.

Very quickly, travel became a drug I was hooked on—it became an almost toxic game of being proud that I was never home, that I was always in an “exotic” destination. As a result, I lost touch with my value systems and identity. I missed out on major milestones like loved ones’ weddings, and my connection to my homeland of Toronto, Canada dwindled. It was like I was pretending it was “cool” to treat my city like a layover, rather than a place to put down roots.

Why did I succumb to this behavior? TBH, I think it was easier to interact with strangers in foreign places. There’s nothing at stake, no risk of judgment or fear of their reactions. Additionally, at that point in my life, I was going through a LOT of life changes. I was severing ties with abusive individuals, attending more intensive and draining therapy sessions, getting used to my fiancé’s side of the family and contending with all those new dynamics, feeling pressured to have and honor large wedding traditions and plan the wedding, dealing with the expectation of moving into a larger place shortly after, being asked about having babies and starting a family—all at the same time. It was all-consuming and overwhelming. It was too much for me. I went from a life that was manageable and comfortable, me and my boyfriend living in our cozy apartment, to suddenly being handed this chaotic tsunami of life-altering stuff. So what did I do? I escaped. I fled the country as often as possible. But clearly, this was not a sustainable solution, because every time I touched down from my latest trip, real life was becoming more fractured with many unresolved issues I didn’t want to deal with.

The worst part was that this travel-based blur never fully afforded me a sense of purpose: I didn’t appreciate the opportunity enough to absorb the incredible nuances of each destination I was in, which included the people, culture, and beauty that surrounded me. I remember being on a four-hour sailing excursion in Croatia bobbling along the Adriatic Sea. Instead of soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells, I felt frustrated, restless, and anxious. I decided that this was a waste of time and that I could have used these precious minutes instead to be on land and hit up as many landmarks as possible. I was too preoccupied with this arbitrary checklist, and having a “what’s next” mentality almost stopped me from enjoying it at all. 

I guess it’s true what they say about getting your priorities in check when you have a mentally and physically life-altering experience such as having a tiny human grow inside you. The surge of hormones, the more frequent Zoom sessions/calls with my midwife, the slew of regular phone/virtual therapy sessions—all coupled with being in lockdown—acted as the catalyst to the introspection I needed to reflect upon my life. Lockdown has been a blessing in disguise for me. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the time or opportunity to figure out my travel habits weren’t good for me. Ultimately, I realized that I need to grow up and be a responsible adult (and future parent) who can teach my child about travel being an incredible privilege and not a right. I’ve also realized that less is truly more. When it comes to exploring new places now, I’m going to focus on quality over quantity.

When I first began traveling for a living, I hoped travel would shape my core being, but in the past year, it dawned on me that it actually caused me to lose touch with myself. It also explains why, when I was abroad, I would fill my arbitrary agenda with random stuff to do. When left to my own devices, I was super uneasy in my own skin. In previous stories I’ve written for Betches, I mentioned that I’ve contended (and still do) with a myriad of mental health issues. In a nutshell, these elements hijacked my identity and I was filling the void with travel (in addition to using it as a form of escapism from IRL problems). It will take some time, but this realization was revelatory, and now I’m taking time to rediscover who I am, simply by trying out and testing random activities and determining what appeals to me (so far I’ve tried pottery, painting, strategy-based board games with hubby, and archery). With a renewed sense of wonder, I will now approach travel with more thoughtfulness and grace I probably couldn’t have conceived of in my pre-pregnancy and pre-pandemic days. 

Imags: Clement Souchet / Unsplash

The Betches’ Guide To Napa

Majorly Instagrammable estates, world-class culinary hotspots, a relatively mild year-round climate, luxury spas, and, duh, the wine. Obviously. Napa has it all and is a dream destination that we could never get enough of. Whether you’re traveling for a minimoon, bachelorette party, birthday celebration or just a weekend getaway, Napa is the ideal destination for any occasion and with any combination of travel partners. As obsessed as we are with Napa, it does take a little bit more planning and research than your average domestic weekend trip and isn’t one that we’d recommend doing on a tight budget—although it can be done. Read on for all of our tips, tricks, and recs for pulling off the perfect Napa trip. Cheers!

A NOTE ON COVID-19:

If you do choose to travel right now, it is important to do so as safely and responsibly as possible. A few notes about how Napa in particular is managing the pandemic.

Napa and Sonoma counties have a mask mandate in place, and a mask should be worn in all public areas, except when eating and drinking. This includes when walking outdoors any time that 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. We would suggest continuing to wear your mask when your server comes to your table as well. Wearing a mask primarily protects the other person and it’s important to show your server the same respect and caution that they are showing you.

All restaurants and wineries must operate exclusively outside at this time. This may change your experience slightly. For example, you may not be able to partake in all of the standard tours, such as any cave experiences or barrel tastings, but you will still have a wonderful time! In addition, your host may be less hands-on than normal in terms of walking you through the wine making process, tasting notes, etc. 

From our experience, hotels were thoroughly sanitized and housekeeping services did not take place during a stay to minimize the number of people entering and exiting a room. In addition, efforts are being made at some hotels to allow a few days between guest stays in a particular room. 

Lastly, we are advocates for taking any additional precautions that you can prior to traveling. While we did not have any symptoms, we tested both before and after our trip and quarantined while awaiting results each time. We recognize that we could be asymptomatic carriers. 

Between the compounded effects of both COVID-19 and the recent wildfires, Napa Valley’s businesses need our support more than ever, but please visit as responsibly as you can!

How To Get There

If you live in the Bay Area, Napa is the perfect weekend destination! If not, you’ll most likely be flying to get to Napa. With three local airports, you have a lot of options depending on what your priority is—ease or price. No matter which airport you fly into, though, expect a bit of a drive.

If you’re looking to get as close as possible to wine country, you’ll want to fly directly into Santa Rosa (Sonoma County Airport). Flights here are less frequent, more expensive, and depending on where you choose to stay in wine country, could still require a 20-40 mile drive. One bonus of this airport, though, is that you can check up to a case of wine for free when you’re flying home! Love that.  

For the average traveler, you’ll want to fly into SFO (San Francisco International Airport). As one of the busiest airports in the country, you’ll have no problem finding flight options and a great flight deal. Hello, more money for wine tastings! From SFO, you have about a 1 hour drive into Napa. We’d recommend either renting a car or, if you’re celebrating a bachelorette, renting a limo or party bus for the ride. Pro Tip: If you’re landing earlier in the day and choose to rent a car, take the Golden Gate into Sausalito on your way to Napa and stop off for a bite to eat or glass of wine with killer views of SF and the Bay.

Lastly, Oakland is a third option for flying into Napa. Technically, Oakland is a little bit closer to Napa than SFO, but could be more challenging to find flight deals depending on where you’re coming from. We recommend setting flight alerts on Google Flights and Hopper for all three airports (Santa Rosa, San Francisco, and Oakland) and booking whichever comes back as the best value between price, arrival/departure times, and flight route. 

Where To Stay

One of the most common misconceptions when planning a Napa trip is that you want to stay in Napa proper. When most people say they want to go to Napa, they are referring to Napa Valley or the entire wine country of Napa and Sonoma counties. It is a HUGE area, and choosing which town or area to stay in is so important to a successful and enjoyable trip. We’ll break down the options, high-level, below:

Napa – As the biggest town in Napa Valley, Napa is the most lively area that you could stay with restaurants and bars within walking distance of one another, most of the larger hotel chains (Westin, Embassy Suites, Marriott, etc.) and is a pretty centrally located spot for whatever you choose to do in the area. Plus, the Napa River is a pretty cute spot to walk along. 

Yountville to St. Helena – These towns are technically 10 miles apart (about 20 minutes), but for the ease of writing this guide, we’ll group these towns together (along with Oakville, Rutherford, and the other small towns between these two.) In our opinion, these towns are what people typically dream of or imagine when they think of wine country and visiting Napa. Slow-paced, romantic, a vineyard view from your room, etc. These towns are also where all of our favorite wineries and restaurants are located.

Calistoga – Calistoga is often considered the end (or beginning) of Napa Valley and offers a similar wine country feel to Yountville and St. Helena, but in a much quieter and relaxing way. Calistoga would be a perfect area to stay for a honeymoon or anniversary trip. Super charming, secluded, understated, and laidback.

Sonoma – Sonoma is technically in a completely different county, but we think it’s still worth mentioning when planning a Napa trip. Sonoma is, in our opinion, much less commercialized and touristy. Think of it like Napa’s laid-back little sister. Sonoma is an incredible place to visit and actually grows more grapes than Napa, and it’s a stunning area with some of the best Pinots in the world. We ultimately do prefer Napa Valley, but always say that Napa is not a trip to do on a tight budget. Sonoma can be a more affordable option for hotels, restaurants, tastings, and still a very fun place to visit.

There are so many insanely beautiful and luxurious hotels, resorts, and Airbnbs in the area. For the purpose of this guide, we would recommend Silverado Resort. While it’s not in the heart of any of Napa Valley’s towns, its location is central enough to allow you to plan activities in most of the spots around the valley. It’s an expansive and beautiful resort property with multiple pools, two golf courses, a spa, and plentiful restaurant options, all while being a surprisingly affordable option—by Napa standards, that is. For any Real Housewives super fans like us, the OC wives stayed at Silverado on their Napa trip (season 10, episode 3, to be exact). If it’s good enough for Heather Dubrow, it’s more than good enough for us.

How To Get Around

Unless you have a DD in your group (unlikely since you’re in wine country), we’d recommend hiring a driver for your day of wine tasting. Napa Valley is a huge area and the wineries stretch out along a highway, so walking just isn’t an option. Ubers and taxis are harder to come by and because Napa is a place where reservations are definitely required, you won’t want to waste any time between appointments waiting around for an Uber. If you’re traveling with a group, hiring a driver is actually very reasonable. Definitely plan ahead for this and don’t wait to figure it out upon arrival. Drinking and driving just isn’t the move. 

Where To Eat

Our second favorite part of the guide! Napa Valley is a foodie mecca. So much work and research goes into pairing wine and food, so of course, in a world-famous wine region, there is no shortage of good food. Napa Valley is overflowing with some of the best chefs in the world ready to feed you after you’ve drunk your body weight in wine. It does, however, mean that many of the restaurants are at a slightly higher price point than you’re probably used to—we promise, they’re worth it!! 

We recommend doing RH Wine Vault (yes, another of the highly Instagrammable concepts from Restoration Hardware) for pre-dinner drinks or wine tasting and then following up with dinner at Bistro Jeanty. They’re both in the heart of Yountville. RH Wine Vault has an incredibly Instagrammable aesthetic with string lights, outdoor couches, and a backdrop of a vine-covered building. Bistro Jeanty is all things French, and who doesn’t love some steak frites and cocktails with names like La Vie en Rose? You literally can’t go wrong, and they’re currently offering cocktails to go. 

If you’re staying in Napa proper and love sushi, we’d recommend Morimoto in Napa. This will not be cheap, but it’s so worth it if you love sushi. You can sit inside or outside on the river, and the vibe is exactly what you want: very cool and modern. We’d stick with the sashimi and nigiri because the fish quality is so fresh. We’ve never had so much sushi delivered to us at once—a true dream. They also have great cocktails and an amazing wine list. There are a few locations around the world, so it’s not exclusive to Napa, but we still have to recommend it.

If you’re on your honeymoon or truly ready to ball out, The French Laundry is a must. We’ve never had the chance to eat here, but it is often regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world. A multiple course fixed menu with wine pairings for every course and each person has his/her own waiter. What we can only imagine to be a once in a lifetime experience. 

Other wine country favorites include:

The Bistro at Auberge du Soleil – Perfect way to break up your day of wine tasting if you’re in the Rutherford/Yountville area. We could never afford to actually stay here, so lunching is the perfect alternative to get all of the chic French vibes at a fraction of the cost.

Farmstead Restaurant – A farm-to-table concept that somehow blends Southern comfort food with a signature light, fresh California flair. 

Goose & Gander – A St. Helena staple famous for its burger and cocktails, as well as a signature Sunday brunch. Brunch runs from 11am-3pm, though, so it usually cuts into our wine tasting schedule. It’s a great option if brunch is your last plan on your way out of town on Sunday!

Ad Hoc & Addendum – Neighboring restaurants from Thomas Keller. Ad Hoc serves a renowned family style meal that changes daily. Addendum is famed for its legendary upscale fried chicken.

Oxbow Public Market – Centrally located near Napa proper, this is a great stop for groups with a variety of tastes or dietary needs. It’s an easy, casual spot to grab everything from Hog Island oysters to banh mi to pasta—with drinks, of course.

Where To Drink

Napa is all about the wine, so now let’s get to the good stuff! There are so many wineries in Napa Valley that you could visit every weekend for a year and still not hit them all. Here are our favorites to get good wine and a good ambience. 

Del Dotto is one of those wineries that’s a can’t-miss. They have three tasting rooms, which makes it an easy stop no matter where you’re staying, but currently, only the Piazza is open due to COVID. You may recognize it from a recent KUWTK episode—Kylie’s first wine-tasting trip—but we’ve loved it before we were influenced by our favorite family. We highly recommend the barrel tasting (if you’re there during non-COVID times, you’ll actually get to taste from the barrel in their wine cellar). The tasting is $80 for 9 wines and includes a wood-fired pizza and tomato appetizer—a must to avoid getting white girl wasted. 

For a casual lunch stop where you can still wine taste, V Sattui is a must. They offer a number of different types of wine tastings, and their marketplace and deli is full of yummy bites for lunch. Instead of doing a wine tasting here, you could also grab a few bottles from their marketplace and enjoy a picnic lunch. Honestly, the wine here is good (I mean, it’s Napa), but not out of this world. We stop here on every Napa visit though, because the food is good, easy, and convenient, and you don’t have to stop your wine tasting fun.  

We are champagne and sparkling wine lovers, but, regardless, we always recommend the first tasting stop of your day to be for a sparkling tasting flight. We love wine, but 10am still feels a little aggressive to start exploring some bold cabs. Domaine Carneros is our favorite stop for this (you’ll feel like you’re actually in Champagne, France with the incredible tasting room) or Mumm Napa if you’re looking to taste some champagne that’s exclusive to the winery, and not what you’ll find at your local grocery store. For a bougier champagne experience, we recommend Schramsberg. Domaine Chandon is another option for sparkling that is super popular, but if you’re choosing between one or two options, it wouldn’t be our top choice.  

For anyone staying in Sonoma, SIGH. is a must stop when you’re done with wine tastings, but not ready to end your day of drinking. A highly Instagrammable champagne bar. They’re currently set up in Sonoma Square due to COVID and offer a variety of frozen cocktails, their usual champagne offerings, as well as apps.

Other wine country faves:

HALL WinesA must for any cab lovers in particular

Inglenook – Stunning property owned by Francis Ford Coppola

Castello di AmorosaA literal castle

ArtesaStunning, expansive views of Napa

Opus OneLuxurious experience, but with a somewhat more formal, exclusive vibe. Would not recommend this one for a bachelorette party. 

Stag’s Leap – Iconic spot in Napa Valley that some would say put the region on the map in terms of international acclaim and respect. 

Tips & Tricks For Planning A Successful Trip

Plan ahead!! Napa is absolutely a place that requires advanced planning. Make reservations for all the wineries and restaurants that you plan to visit. You may be able to just walk into some of the tasting rooms at the end of your day, but for the actual wineries and acclaimed restaurants, you absolutely need reservations and we’d recommend starting to book at least a month out.

MyMaps will be your best friend. When you first decide to plan a trip to Napa, you will be inundated with opinions and recommendations. There are just so many stellar spots. In the last two years alone, we’ve spent 13 days total in Napa and still feel like we’ve just scratched the surface. As you begin to compile all of your recs, plot them all on a map. See where things seem to naturally group together location-wise and plan each day around that. The towns can take a significant amount of time to travel between and, if you’re on a tight schedule, you will want to minimize your driving time.

Be realistic. We are obsessed with wine tasting and there are certainly some destinations in the country where it’s possible to squeeze six or seven tastings into a day if you’re ambitious. Napa is not one of those places. We wouldn’t recommend more than four tastings in a day. Most wineries open for tastings at 11 (10 if it’s sparkling wine) and most start their last tastings at 3:30 or 4. Plan for each tasting to last 60-90 minutes. 

Budget accordingly! As we’ve mentioned several times, Napa is not a great place to do on a budget. Accommodations can be pricey, there are many world-renowned (aka expensive) restaurants, and the tastings are not cheap. Most of our previous wine tasting experiences were for tastings ranging from $15-30 with the tasting waived with the purchase of one bottle. In Napa, however, the average tasting fee is about $60 with some going well over $100, and the tastings are waived with the purchase of upwards of six bottles or joining a wine club. You can absolutely still visit Napa or Sonoma and find spots for less, but just know that it may not be the full wine country experience that you’ve imagined.

Perfect First Time Itinerary

Friday, Day 1 

If you land in the morning/afternoon, drive over the Golden Gate + stop for lunch in Sausalito on your way to wine country. 

If you land in the late afternoon/evening, head straight to RH Wine Vault for a tasting

Dinner at Bistro Jeanty

Cocktails to go + check into The Silverado Resort (or your accommodation of choice)

Saturday, Day 2

Breakfast at Bouchon Bakery (Expect a line here, but it’s worth it! You can easily take your food to go, so waiting to order is the longest part here).

Champagne Tasting at Mumm Napa (If you want to get in as many tastings as possible, book your tasting as soon as they open!)

Tasting at HALL Wines (You’ll have to skip this one if your champagne tasting starts any later than 10AM)

Lunch + Tasting at V Sattui

Tasting at Piazza Del Dotto

After changing and freshening up, grab pre-dinner cocktails at Sky & Vine Rooftop. If you’re running late, be sure to stop here after dinner!

Dinner at Morimoto 

Sunday, Day 3 – Option A if you’re heading home on Sunday/just doing a weekend trip!

Brunch – Napa is famous for their Sunday brunches. We’d recommend: Goose & Gander, Brix, or Auberge du Soleil depending on which is closest to where you’re staying! 

Champagne Tasting at Domaine Carneros

Late lunch in Sausalito if you didn’t get the chance to stop on your way into town

Fly Home

Sunday, Day 3 – Option B if you have an extra day to spend in Napa Valley! 

With an extra day in Napa, you’ll have time to explore Calistoga, an area many people miss on their trips!

Brunch at Sam’s Social Club

Champagne Tasting at Schramsberg

Tasting at Castello di Amorosa

Late lunch from Oakville Grocery on your way out of Calistoga – Easy to go sandwiches, apps, etc. 

Pool time at Silverado Resort (Napa has pleasant, sunny weather most of the year)

(Tasting at Stags’ Leap Winery if you’d rather do another tasting or are visiting in a cooler time of year!)

Dinner and drinks at Ad Hoc

Monday, Optional Day 4

Late breakfast at Grace’s Table

Drive back to San Francisco and fly home

If you have a late flight, this would be the perfect day for the spa!

Images: Michael Warwick / Shutterstock; Giphy (2)

What It’s Really Like To Travel Right Now

Traveling during a global pandemic is a sensitive and very hot topic right now. Full disclosure: I travel for a living, so it’s part of my job to take to the roads and skies as much as possible, despite the pandemic. As someone who has recovered from COVID-19 and has recently started traveling again, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of travel in 2020.

There are some really great improvements to travel this year, and there are some not-so-great behaviors out there. For the most realistic picture of 2020 travel, I want to share all aspects with you so you can make an informed decision about whether traveling right now is right for you. Make sure you also check out the CDC’s recommendations for travel before you go, which include tips like checking your destination’s COVID cases and travel requirements or restrictions.

Travel Improvements

Travel precautions have improved A LOT over the course of the pandemic, and airlines and hotels are doing everything in their power to keep travelers safe. One upside is that even the worst travelers are mandated to adhere to certain safety guidelines on planes, trains, and hotels.

Everyone is trying to figure out what’s acceptable during these times, but getting on a plane isn’t the pandemic red flag that many think it is. In fact, a recent study by United Airlines in partnership with the Department of Defense indicates an airplane is the safest indoor public space. It also details why the risk of exposure while onboard (even on a full flight) is almost non-existent. However, the CDC notes that spending time in airport terminals and security lines can put you into close contact with other people and contaminated surfaces, which can introduce risk. 

Masks have been mandated by most governments and large industries, so thats non-negotiable when you board a plane or enter a hotel, and theres no arguing about it with the staff on hand—don’t even try, Karen. 

 

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10 Tips For Staying Safe While Flying During the Pandemic: No matter your reason for travel, flying can be scary these days These 5 tips will help you stay as safe as possible on your journey. If you don’t want to be traveling now, that’s okay! But, you can travel responsibly IF you take proper precautions & use common courtesy 📍Be sure to save this post for your upcoming journey 1) Wear a mask! This seems simple but there’s more to it. Get N95 masks. These are the best masks for protecting YOU. Most masks are generally to protect other people from you, but an N95 will be your best chance to protect you from others 2) Avoid Eating on plane. Additionally, you will want to eat and drink prior to leaving your house, put your mask on and it’s best if you DO NOT break the seal while onboard. If you have to take a sip of water, know you are breaking the seal around your mask and be careful not to touch your face 3) Wear a face shield. Face shields add an extra layer of protection, and also will cover forehead and eyes. They also prevent you from touching your face 4) Wipe your seat, and entire area prior sitting down with disinfectant wipes. @lysol has just been confirmed to kill Coronavirus, so use those if possible. Additionally, you can tag @passengershaming in your seat wiping and may even get a re-share. 5) Stay away from people in boarding area and walking through the airport. 6) Wash your hands like your life depends on it, because it does. 30 seconds! 7) Instead of Uber, use a black car service like @blacklane to get to/from the airport. Blacklane is taking extra cleanliness precautions to ensure safety of customers 8) Keep checking the seating chart to make sure you are socially distancing your seat if your flight isn’t full Perhaps that means giving up your first class upgrade for an empty economy like @mommypoints recently did, or flying an airline like @delta which is operating at 60% 9) Shower in hot water as soon as you get home & put your contaminated mask and clothes in a garbage bag or straight into laundry 10) Pick a hotel that is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their travelers. Look at last vid of @conradnydowntown

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Major hotel brands like Marriott and Hilton have each come out with their own new safety standards that include PPE for employees, and new sanitization procedures for hotel rooms. I have recently stayed at both the Conrad New York Downtown and the JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa. Both properties are going above and beyond to make COVID-conscious travelers like myself feel safe and protected. These include measures such as extra sanitizing, mask requirements, and even waiting 24-48 hours to turn rooms over between guests, so that the cleaning staff is less likely to be exposed to germs.

 

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Social distancing at its finest. 🧍🏻‍♀️. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .🧍🏻‍♀️ Did you know that Cancun was certified as a safe destination by the World Travel and Tourism Council? Basically the WTTC will give a Safe Travels stamp of approval to certain destinations where new safety measures and global protocols have been so adopted to help protect travelers. Life was good in Cancun at the @jwcancun — I was able to let myself almost forget about the stress of the pandemic for a little while because it was SO safe there! Some of the measures they took to protect me were utilizing a car service that is also following guideline, where you have a temp check, and your hands, shoes, and luggage sanitized before getting in, plus the obvious a mask! Additionally, all staff wears masks, masks are encouraged to be worn by all guests, but will be mandatory beginning in August whenever inside. Also, hotels are maxing our at 30% capacity, which means there’s plenty of room to stay away from other guests and social distant at the resort! More details to come on TrustedTravelGirl.com soon! What would make you feel safe while traveling? #jwmarriottcancun #jwcancun ——— #seaturtle #seaturtles #cancun #mexico #rivieramaya #tulum #visitmexico #mariottcancun #prettylittletrips #cancunmexico #southoftheborder

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Some destinations are being recognized by the World Trade and Tourism Council for their commitment to keeping travelers safe and healthy. The Phillippines just became the 100th destination to receive the Safe Travels Stamp” of approval from the WTTC. Other safe” destinations include Aruba, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Indonesia, and parts of Mexico. Destinations are even limiting the number of guests allowed in a hotel. When I was in Cancun, the state of Quintana Roo was limiting properties to a maximum of 30% occupancy.

Travel Drawbacks

 

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😳Why the hell did I wear this? Because you can travel without being part of the problem and while protecting yourself, and I want to make a point. Today, I am traveling through TWO of the most infected states in the United States of America COVID. But, I’m on a mission to share with you what exactly international travel looks like right now. I’m working closely with my destination to learn everything they are doing to keep guests and staff safe… and it sounds like it’s nearly fool-proof. So why didn’t I dress this way on my last flight? My last trip was a nearly empty 3 class (Flagship First, Business and Economy) flight with a business class seat, and no one next to me. Also, I was leaving a city and state (New York) with almost no COVID cases. But, here… my own city (Los Angeles) tested for nearly 4300 new cases on Tuesday alone. The city of LA— Not the entire state. That’s MASSIVE. And don’t even get me started on Texas (DFW). I want to show you that you CAN travel (if you need to or want to). You can travel and be safe, and you can travel and not be part of the problem. I don’t go to grocery stores, I wash my groceries, I have only seen 1 friend in semi close proximity since March 5th. I am careful. So if I’m going to expose myself, it’s going to be for travel— not for a party, or a trip to the grocery store, or anywhere else. It’s all about limiting contact as much as possible. You can be home and be more of a problem than someone who travels safely. But, a traveler travels. It’s essential to my sanity and my career. The other reason I’m wearing my space suit is my Antibodies… I feel safe having SOME low level antibodies left, but I just had A LOT of testing done and they are slowly going away. Although, long term immunity is looking likely in T-Cells, we just don’t know! Better safe than sorry, and better a trip to Mexico than a trip to the grocery store! It’s all about being RESPONSIBLE. See you in the skies soon… because travel always comes back! —— #backtotravel #traveltheworld #wearetravelgirls #girlovetravel #glt #traveldeeper #indtravel #prettylittletrips #beautifulplaces #travelisback #traveldeeper #travelstories #hazmatsuit

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As with anything, though, there will always be a loud minority who can ruin it for the rest of us. Ive seen some pretty bad behavior during my recent travels. Unfortunately, we live in a world with a lot of entitled people who care more about their “personal liberties” than the safety of others. Guidelines are just obstacles to them, and they dont give a sh*t about endangering your health or making things difficult for those who have to enforce the rules. 

Even when rules are in place, there are people who will look for the loophole. For instance, you are allowed to remove your mask while eating or drinking, so Ive seen people nurse the same drink over a period of several hours in airport lounges and on planes. Some will take a sip whenever someone approaches them; others don’t even bother to pretend. You can bet I’ve sent in a few submissions of these maskless jerks to @PassengerShaming.

In some areas, those entitled people are actually a majority, and certain states and cities have refused to put mask mandates in place. As of today, 34 U.S. states require masks in public. You can bet I wont be promoting or visiting the other 16 states that dont care about the health and well-being of their residents or visitors. In my opinion, it is a necessary burden of traveling to do the research on destinations and support those that are taking this pandemic seriously.

The Future of Travel

The sad truth is, the travel industry is forever changed. Weve seen huge downturns before with 9/11 and the 2008 recession, so its not hopeless—travel always comes back. But there are businesses that survived those downturns that wont survive this pandemic. Landmark hotels like the Hilton Times Square and the W New York Downtown are closing for good. Closures like this mean fewer options for travelers. We will have fewer hotels to choose from, fewer airline routes, and fewer destinations open to Americans than ever before.

Also, a U.S. passport used to be a golden ticket to nearly any destination, but thats no longer the case, as were not managing this crisis as well as other countries. In fact, we are only welcomed into approximately a dozen countries at the moment, which would have been unthinkable before this year.

On the bright side, cleanliness will never be taken for granted again. Passengers wont settle for crusty airplane seats or dirty lavatories ever again. Fastidious cleaning procedures are here to stay, and thats a new normal” we can all embrace. 

Its not all doom and gloom in the travel industry. While urban destinations like Chicago and New York have suffered greatly, other destinations are booming. Mountain resort towns like Aspen, Park City, and Jackson Hole are seeing record numbers of tourists escaping the restrictions of urban environments for fresh air and outdoor adventure. Hotels, restaurants, and tours are booming with summer visitors, and many people are already planning their annual ski trips.

 

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The contrast between the pretty blue water and white snow in Bend, Oregon is so stunning! ——— ——— #exploregon #wearetravelgirls letsgoeverywhere #tlpicks #travelbreak #travelstoke #lonelyplanet #dametraveler #wonderful_places #traveldeeper #dailyescape

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So, this isnt the end of the travel industry, but a definite shift for everyone. By traveling safely and responsibly, we can show our support for the three-trillion-dollar industry that so many families rely on. Getting COVID tests and donning PPE is a bit of extra work, but it beats watching our favorite places slide into bankruptcy.

If you’re about to travel, hopefully you have a greater understanding of what to expect when you catch your next flight. If you’re not ready, that’s okay too; we’re all figuring this year out as we go.

Image: averie woodward / Unsplash; trustedtravelgirl / Instagram

The Betches’ Guide To Kennebunkport

It’s no secret that travel in the time of COVID-19 is a polarizing subject. While some of us can no longer resist the urge to escape and resume some semblance of normalcy, others are wary about resuming travel as usual. I’m still hesitant to get on an airplane, so for my recent Labor Day getaway, I focused on locations within driving distance of NYC. And I’m so glad I did, because it gave me the opportunity to explore a place I’d always meant to check out but often put off in favor of more exotic spots: Kennebunkport, Maine.

Kennebunkport is a shipbuilding and fishing village in southern Maine known for its beautiful beaches and delicious seafood, and is also the summer home of the Bush family (#TBT). Dock Square in the center of town is chock-full of adorable shops, fantastic restaurants, and incredible views of the Kennebunk River.

Maine is a great option for travel right now because it’s one of the states with the lowest number of COVID cases, and it takes safety precautions very seriously. All of the restaurants we visited spaced out the tables and took down names and phone numbers of diners for contact tracing purposes. Almost everyone walking around Dock Square wore masks (I even spotted a mailbox with individually packaged, free masks), and shops encouraged visitors to utilize their hand sanitizer while limiting the number of shoppers that could be inside at the same time. It’s also worth noting that, as of September 13, Maine requires out-of-state travelers to quarantine for 14 days or show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR collected no more than 72 hours prior to arrival, excluding New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.

How To Get There

Travelers from exempt states can easily get to Kennebunkport by car. The trip from NYC took just over five hours (with a short stop for food). We left on a Wednesday night and hit virtually no traffic. Coming back on Labor Day took us somewhere between five and a half to six hours. If you’re not within driving distance, other options include flying into Portland International Jetport, which is about 30 miles away, Manchester NH Airport, which is about 75 miles away, or Logan International Airport in Boston, which is about a 90-minute drive from Kennebunkport. Amtrak also offers a route to Wells, Maine, which is just ten minutes away from town.

Where To Stay

There’s no shortage of great options for accommodation in Kennebunkport at a variety of price points. Some hotels are right on the water near the center of town, while others are in slightly more residential areas that are just a short walk or drive from the action.

After some serious debate, we decided on Captain Lord Mansion, a charming bed and breakfast, which was at one time the home of sea merchant and shipbuilder Captain Nathaniel Lord. What really stood out about Captain Lord Mansion was the combination of its charming Federal-style architecture with all the modern amenities of a luxury hotel. It was great being just a five-minute walk from town—removed enough that it felt like our own home, but close enough to all the spots in town we wanted to check out. The hotel was also meticulous about safety. Instead of the traditional sit-down communal breakfast, each morning we were sent individualized and pre-packaged breakfasts that were home-cooked and delicious. I’m still thinking about the freshly baked muffin with melted chocolate inside that I ate the first morning.

If you’d like to be right in the middle of town, The Kennebunkport Inn is a popular choice with an unbeatable location in the heart of Dock Square. If you’re a beach bum, The Tides Beach Club is the only waterfront hotel on Goose Rocks Beach, which is one of the most gorgeous beaches in the area. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll be five to six miles from Dock Square, so unless you’re going for a Cast Away vibe, having a car will be key if you choose this hotel and want to explore the heart of Kennebunkport. Each hotel’s webpage details its safety precautions, so you can compare and decide where you feel the most comfortable.

How To Get Around

One of Kennebunkport’s selling points is its walkability. Almost all of the most popular spots are within walking distance of each other. That said, it was useful to have a car when exploring Goose Rocks Beach and some of the more remote restaurants. Though we didn’t have the need for an Uber or Lyft, they can be difficult to come by.

One popular alternative to a car is to rent a bike. It’s so popular, in fact, that when we tried renting bikes for fun for a half-day, Coastal Maine Kayak and Bike had none left! We did snag two of the few remaining bikes at Kennebunkport Bicycle Company, though, but if you’re committed to biking, it’s best to book early on during your trip or possibly make a reservation in advance.

Where To Eat

One of the main reasons I travel is for food, and my favorite part of planning any trip is mapping out each night’s dinner. Kennebunkport did not disappoint. Not only are the lobster and seafood options incredible and fresh, but you can also find places to eat that range from a casual shack to a multiple-course prix fixe dinner.

Our favorite spot was Mabel’s Lobster Claw. The ambiance was quaint and casual, with two large outdoor dining sections under tents. Mabel’s is a favorite of the Bush family and other famous names. I overheard a waitress telling another table that Martha Stewart and Patrick Dempsey were there earlier that week. After eating there myself, I can attest that the food is definitely worth the hype. The New England clam chowder was creamy and loaded with clams, and the lobster was perfection. For dessert, Mabel’s offers a blueberry pie featuring Maine wild blueberries, which are smaller and more flavorful than your typical blueberry. I’m not normally a huge fan of blueberries, but after this pie, I am a wild blueberry convert! FYI, they close for the winter starting September 27th, but they should open back up in April.

For a splurge meal, it’s worth checking out The White Barn Inn Restaurant. They offer a four-course prix fixe dinner that combines local ingredients with the inventiveness of a Michelin star restaurant. The service was impeccable and worthy of the hefty price tag, which is more than I can say for some of the other expensive restaurants in the area (ahem, Earth at Hidden Pond). This was one of our only indoor dining experiences, but my concerns were assuaged when I saw how far apart the tables were.

For lunch one day, we went to Arundel Wharf, which has a large outdoor seating section on the water. The seafood was fantastic, the vibe was casual, and the service was outstanding.

There’s an ongoing debate about where to get the best lobster roll in Kennebunkport. Perhaps the most widely touted spot is The Clam Shack, which is a literal shack in the center of town that has a long line of patrons at seemingly every hour. We enjoyed our rolls, but didn’t really understand the obsession. (I actually preferred the half-pint of fried shrimp we ordered as an appetizer.) A more underrated roll, absolutely loaded with generous chunks of lobster (an important consideration given the price), was the one at Arundel Wharf. But if you’re like me and prefer a hot, buttered Connecticut-style lobster roll to the traditional Maine style that’s cold and mixed with mayo, this won’t be your jam.

While some places are casual and seemed to have availability for walk-ins, it’s best to make dinner reservations in advance, especially if you’re looking to catch the sunset at waterfront spots like Alisson’s and Hurricane.

Last, but certainly not least, you must brave the line and grab ice cream at Rococo Ice Cream in town at least once. Rococo has a selection of 14 artisan flavors that rotate daily, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. With flavors like Goat Cheese Blackberry Chambord to Sweet Avocado Cayenne, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good something so seemingly strange tastes in the form of ice cream. It’s also a woman-owned business, so we have no choice but to stan.

What To Do

Kennebunkport is a popular summer destination, especially for New Englanders, so the town was bustling with people when we stayed there. Whether you’re looking to simply lounge on a beach, or get more active, there’s plenty to do within and outside of town.

Maine has a number of beautiful beaches. If you’re looking for something close to town, Gooch’s Beach and Mother’s Beach are one and two miles respectively from Dock Square. Because of their proximity to town, they are popular and can get a bit crowded. For our beach day, we opted to drive the five miles to Goose Rocks Beach, which is a beautiful sandy beach that, though also popular, was a bit less congested than those close to town. We did do a quick trip to Mother’s Beach one night before dinner to catch the incredible sunset. Parking at the beaches can be a bit of a pain and you’ll need a pass from one of the nearby kiosks, so it’s best to get there either early or later in the day so you can find a spot without contemplating murder.

Maine also has a number of beautiful national parks, with one of the most famous being Acadia National Park. However, that’s another three to three and a half hours north of Kennebunkport. We didn’t want to make that kind of a drive, so we opted for a more local and off-the-beaten-path option for our dose of nature: a forest therapy guided walk. Forest therapy is inspired by the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”, or shinrin-yoku, and encourages participants to activate all of their senses and immerse themselves in the natural world. Some of the benefits of forest therapy include a boost to the immune system, lower blood pressure, and relaxation. It was just the escape we needed after living through six months of the dumpster fire that’s been 2020.

For casual drinks and a fun, lively outdoor patio, we spent a couple of hours one afternoon at Old Vines Wine Bar. The service was great and they had fun, live music.

In case my food obsession wasn’t already apparent, we spent one afternoon doing a foodie walking tour, which was a great way to get to know the town and familiarize ourselves with the local cuisine. We sampled clam chowder, the aforementioned Federal Jack’s lobster roll, tried local mead (also known as honey wine), had hand-roasted coffee and macaroons, and capped the day off with whoopie pies, the official state treat of Maine. How I’d gone 30-plus years without ever trying a whoopie pie is a shame that will stay with me for years to come.

Dock Square has a number of cute shops with local provisions. One of our favorites was Maine-ly Drizzle, which featured a number of unique infused olive oils and vinegars that you could sample (the stations were frequently cleaned and refreshed and only a few patrons were allowed in at a time).

Itinerary
Day 1

☆ Check into hotel

☆ Explore the town, either on your own or with the foodie walking tour

☆ Catch the sunset at Mother’s Beach

☆ Dinner at Arundel’s Wharf

Day 2

☆ Spend the day at Goose Rocks Beach

☆ Late afternoon ice cream at Rococo’s

☆ Dinner at Mabel’s Lobster Claw (car needed if you’re staying near Dock Square)

Day 3

☆ Forest therapy guided walk (car needed if you’re staying near Dock Square)

☆ Rent bikes and ride alongside Gooch’s Beach

☆ Late afternoon drinks at Old Vines Wine Bar

☆ Dinner at White Barn Inn (car needed if you’re staying near Dock Square)

Images: Amanda Reiss

The Betches’ Guide To Hudson Valley

Hudson Valley is hot right now. The trendy upstate playground has been drawing city dwellers (along with the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers) for years, but given the current sitch, it’s even more popular these days. Good thing restaurants have reopened and local developers have been going after fixer-uppers with hotel potential, like Chip and Joanna Gaines with a vengeance.

Just as New Yorkers flock to the Hamptons in the summer, Manhattan creatives come to Hudson Valley to hibernate in the fall and winter. And considering most of the land surrounding this grouping of idyllic towns and hamlets is either covered by water or trees, it’s quite ideal for social distancing and keeping your six-feet-apart stance. 

Whether you’re getting away for the weekend with your besties or bae, or planning a solo trip because that’s the kind of self-sufficient traveler you are, Hudson Valley has it all. And we’ve rounded up the best places to stay and things to do while you’re there. Read on for our top recs and Insta-worthy locales.

Where Is Hudson Valley?

Hudson Valley is in New York, duh. (Hudson River, anyone?) Hudson Valley is technically comprised of a bunch of different waterfront cities and towns, as well as rural farmlands and forests, so you can easily get your glamping on here or post up in an old Victorian-house-turned bougie hotel. HV stretches as far as the capital Albany in the north, toward Yonkers and Westchester County bordering NYC in the south. For trip planning purposes, some of the best spots to check out in Hudson Valley are Hudson, New Paltz, Beacon, Kingston, Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Gardiner, Tarrytown, and Sleepy Hollow. (Yes, Sleepy Hollow is a real place with charmingly spooky vibes. But that’s a given.)

How Far Is Hudson Valley From New York City?

Hudson Valley is much closer to New York City, than, say, the Hamptons, which is why New Yorkers are trading in The Big Apple for apple picking in the sticks. Depending on where you’re heading, you can be there in as little as 30 to 40 minutes, or a few hours. From NYC to Hudson, NY it’s roughly 107 miles. 

How To Get To Hudson Valley

Road trip, obvi! The scenic route is much preferred, especially if you’re traveling from non-NYC places (and if you don’t want to sit near strangers for social distance reasons). With that said, Metro-North and Amtrak are options if you don’t have your own wheels or don’t want to drive. Just mask up at Grand Central Station or Penn Station, grab a seat six feet away, and chill for two hours until you get to Hudson, or wherever you’re going. Note: Metro-North service ends at Poughkeepsie, with Amtrak’s Empire Corridor trains continuing north to and beyond Albany.

How To Get Around Hudson Valley 

If you’re a Hudson Valley newbie, you might assume everywhere within the area is relatively close. On the contrary, it’s much more spread out and Ubers and cabs are somewhat nonexistent—or super f*cking expensive. So, with that in mind, pick an area and stick to it instead of trying to do the most in a weekend. Or plan ahead and hire a driver, because drinking and driving isn’t cute. We’ve also curated these thoughtful itineraries below based on geographical whereabouts and you’re welcome for that. 

Things To Do In Hudson, NY

 

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Happy Labor Day friends. #ThisOldHudson

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Historic Hudson is clearly the HBIC of Hudson Valley. Not only does Hudson proper bear the namesake of the upstate hotspot, but it has one of the longest main streets, packed to the gills with cute shops, hotels, and restaurants, plus antique stores and art galleries. As for activities, when you’re not playing House Hunters: Hudson Valley or bopping from one mid-century furniture store to the next, try one of these delights:

Stop by Opus 40 in Saugerties on the drive up to Hudson. You’ve probably seen snaps of the outdoor sculpture park on your ‘gram, and it’s high time you go.

Let your inner wino loose at happy hour at Sonder Hudson on Warren St.

Be one with nature (the Catskills is right next door and prime hiking territory).

Get blitzed on a craft brewery tour with stops at Hudson Valley Brewery, Hudson Brewing Company, Yard Owl Craft Brewery, Suarez Family Brewery, and Two Way Brewing Company (you can also ferry to breweries if you don’t want to drink and drive to farther ones #smart).

Antique your ass off. The downtown stores can be pricey, but drive to nearby Coxsackie Antique Center for the good finds and then you can lunch at Reds, a locals-loved fish fry joint.

Hit up The Quiet Botanist on Warren St. for dry botanicals and apothecary elixirs. 

 

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Forever in bloom 🌾 at the beautiful The Quiet Botanist on Warren St. #ThisOldHudson

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Where To Stay In Hudson, NY

We live for The Maker, the newest boutique hotel that opened this past summer. With the trendiest digs in HV (think: a Georgian mansion filled with fringed lamps, jewel-tone interiors, lots of sumptuous velvet couches, and ‘20s vibes), rooms don’t come cheap. Peak season fall/winter rates range from $350-1,200 a night on weekends, but #YOLO. There’s an all-day Euro-inspired café, a restaurant housed in a glass conservatory, and a speakeasy-style lounge tucked away in a 19th century restored carriage house. Then there are the rooms. 11 swanky suites and rooms designed with a boho sensibility are themed after The Artist, The Architect, The Writer, The Gardener, and other creatives you can bump into around Hudson.

 

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Cheers to the weekend! Our lounge will be open until midnight tonight, stop by and stay a while. Photo by @joethommas

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Outside The Maker, hang a right down Warren, then a left toward the train station and you’ll run into Wm. Farmer and Sons. This modern-meets-vintage hotel and bar room also has 11 dreamy rooms (most with clawfoot tubs you’ll never want to get out of) and thoughtful extras that really make a betch feel at home. I mean, look at these details?!

 

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The bright and cozy sitting area in our Anne Marie suite is perfect for kicking your feet up with a glass of wine or beer from the mini bar, challenging your travel companion in a game of gin rummy or just chilling out in front of the tube. Whatever your pleasure, relax, stay, enjoy the moment.

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Their restaurant is tops for cozy, dimly-lit vibes and a damn good menu, with signatures ranging from SNAIL LASAGNA and roasted broccoli parm, to cast-iron caraflex cabbage with foie gras if you’re about that foraged life. And let’s not forget the gorg farm-to-glass cocktails. 

For a more affordable alternative, check into The Wick, Hudson, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel. It’s nice, clean, pet-friendly, directly across from the train station, and right around the corner from Warren Street. Rates start at $180 a night.

Where To Eat In Hudson, NY

Aside from the aforementioned haunts, these restaurants and bars are also noteworthy in town: The Cascades for deli favorites, Swoon Kitchenbar for brasserie fare, Backbar for Malaysian cuisine, Grazin’ Diner for burgers, Hudson Food Studio for killer Vietnamese cuisine, Lil’ Deb’s Oasis and pop-up Feugo 69 for Pan-Latin nibbles and plenty of quirky flair, and the Tavern at Rivertown Lodge for brunch or dinner in a revamped 1920s movie theater. And bar-bookshop The Spotty Dog!  

 

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What a day to be in Hudson.

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Things To Do In New Paltz, NY

The adorable village of New Paltz sits in between the Gunks (Shawangunk Mountains) and Catskill Mountains, 90 miles north of NYC. New Paltz and Hudson couldn’t be more different however, and are about 40 minutes from one another. While Hudson is a postcard-perfect movie set stand-in, New Paltz is a more remote college town compared to “Upstate’s Downtown”.

There’s still a main drag dotted with the usual suspects—bars, restaurants, novelty stores, and artsy randoms—but this Ulster County enclave is also smack dab in the middle of protected nature preserves. As for other ways to pass your time, we’ve got you covered.

 

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🎃Happy Halloween! Don’t forget about our Outdoor Orchard Trick-or-Treat event today — we will have candy stations for kids, a spiked festive cocktail, and a $150 gift card raffle for anyone who is dressed in costume. We will be open until 7pm, hope to see you! ⁠ .⁠ 📸: @diannnnneee⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #twinstarorchards #halloween #trickortreat #pumpkin #spooky #costume #fall #pumpkins #scary #boo #autumn #halloweenfun #halloweentime #photooftheday #cider #hardcider #drycider #hudsonvalley #cidertime #farmstand #tastethisnext #local #newyork #hudsonvalleyeats #upstateny #hudsonvalleyevents #getwithtipsy #hudsonvalleydogs #poughkeepsieny #upstate

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New Paltz is a PSL-sipping, plaid-wearing, apple-picking basic bitch’s wet dream. And even though there are breweries and wineries galore, educate yourself and go to a phenom cidery, k? Brooklyn Cider House set up production here for good reason, and their growing grounds (Twin Star Orchards) should be your first stop when you’re ~thirsty~. Wood-fired pies, mouthwatering burgers, and hard ciders that will blow your mind await. P.S. backdrops include cute ponds and vines for one-foot-forward Insta opps.

Nestled in the heart of the Gunks is Mohonk Preserve, New York’s largest nonprofit nature preserve. Surrounding the historic Mohonk Mountain House, a Victorian “Castle of New Paltz” that dates back to 1869, you can explore the Preserve’s 8,000 acres of mountain cliffs, forests, fields, and streams from one of five local trailheads. According to mohonkpreserve.org, a day-use pass is $15 for hikers and $20 for bikers, climbers, and horseback riders (if you plan on getting your gallop on by bringing your own horse). There’s also cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

Stroll the impressive lineup of 17th-century abodes, churches, and archaeological sites that line Historic Huguenot Street, where the area’s first French settlers moved in.

Head to Robibero Family Vineyards to sample the local grapes, or take a short drive over to Gardiner’s Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery for an outside tasting by reservation.

Stock up on artisan kitchenwares at Blue Cashew.

 

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Cheers to Friday! 🥂🍂⁣ ⁣ Thank you for sharing these gorg photos of your visit @jmargaretbeauty!!

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Where To Stay In And Around New Paltz, NY

Bougies and people that like to stay put can live their best life at Mohonk Mountain House. Whether you’re traveling with your boo or your (small) crew, their grand estate rooms with terraces overlooking the peaks and valleys are unparalleled in the area. Plus there’s an epic spa and we could all use a little more self-care these days. Even though rates start in the $500-700+ range, you’ll be relieved to know it’s all-inclusive style with three daily meals and unlimited activities. And I’m not talking free cards in the lounge. Try your hand at tomahawk throwing, lace up some skates over at the Skating Pavilion, become a disc golf pro, go rock scrambling through the Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze, and do all the sporty things during a round of croquet, bocce, or shuffleboard.

 

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Fall is better in the mountains 🍂🏰🍁 📷: @sonoyy . . . #mohonkmountainhouse #mohonk #happyplace #getoutside#greatoutdoors #fallfoliage #fallcolors #fall #biking #nightphotography #aerialphotography #naturephotography #getaway #weekendgetaway #boating #running #familyvacation #rockclimbing #mountaintop #mountainresort #resort #autumn #mountainbiking #archery #romanticgetaway #hudsonvalley #upstateny #upstatenewyork #historichotelsofamerica #historiclandmark

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Hasbrouck House: I could wax poetic for days about how awesome this undiscovered gem in Stone Ridge is. For starters, it’s a restored 18th-century Dutch Colonial mansion that’s downright dreamy—and right outside New Paltz. 25 well-appointed rooms with modern bathrooms are spread out across the main building, Stable House, Carriage House, and three-bedroom private cottage. For $250+ a night, you can expect all the bells and whistles that come with proper Hudson Valley habitats, but you won’t blow your entire paycheck staying here. There’s free parking on the premises along with doughnuts and cider in the morning, as well as complimentary passes to Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve, and there’s also plenty of forest bathing opps around their 50 acres and private lake. When you get hungry, pop into the onsite bar and restaurant, Butterfield, or be on the lookout for the Baba Vegan Food Truck that swings by once a week to satisfy plant-based cravings. A basement billiards room, hot air balloon bedecked lounge with board games, and Aesop amenities round out their list of additional perks. 

 

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Hang in there friends! We’ll be saving this seat just for you!💕 . . . . . 📷@lavina.s #hasbrouckhouse #hasbrouckhouseny #stoneridgenewyork #catskillshotel #catskillshotels #hudsonvalleyhotel #boutiquehotel #luxuryhotel #escapebrooklyn #escapebkln #andnorth #upstateandchill #romantichotel #hudsonvalley #upstatehotel #cntraveler

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Where To Eat In New Paltz, Stone Ridge & Woodstock, NY

Spend the day at Arrowood Farm Brewery, where you can sip craft ales and cocktails by fire pits while munching on Bavarian pretzels and tostadas. 

In downtown New Paltz, we like Main Street Bistro, Bacchus, Clemson Bros., A Tavola Trattoria, Main Course Marketplace, Huckleberry, and IPho for banging noodle soups, bánh mì, and vermicelli.

Go into a fried chicken coma at Kitchenette Chicken Shack in High Falls—and good luck not trying to go back 20 times during your trip.

For breakfast or lunch in Stone Ridge, hit The Roost or Hash.

For one of the best dinners of your life in Hudson Valley, make a res at Butterfield at Hasbrouck House, where everything is local AF from the farm-grown veggies and cultured butter, to the house-made bread, trout, duck, and venison dishes.

For other dinner options in Woodstock and Saugerties, there’s Phoenicia Diner’s sister spot Dixon’s Roadside BBQ, Silvia, and The Red Onion.

 

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This is what we call early sweater weather, when the days are full of sunshine and the evenings are getting cozy. ⠀ Come hang with us this weekend ☀️🍂 ⠀ WEEKEND HOURS Saturday 12-10 Sunday 11:30-8 ⠀ Cheers! ⠀ #hudsonvalleyhappenings #fall #catskills #accordny #hudsonvalley #upstateny #hygge #farmbrewery #drinklocal #eatlocal #beer #craftbeerlover

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Things To Do In Tarrytown & Sleepy Hollow, NY

Stroll the Scenic Hudson RiverWalk Park at Tarrytown, which comprises 31+ miles along the shoreline from Tarrytown up. 

Visit The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. From now through Nov 22nd, see 7,000 pumpkins light up fall nights in Croton-on-Hudson.

Get your spook on (and relive 4th grade English class) learning about the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman on a walking tour of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. P.S., Washington Irving is obviously buried here. 

Tour the gardens at Lyndhurst. Hudson Valley has been home to some of the most powerful families of New York over the years, and Lyndhurst (AKA the Jay Gould Estate) is serious goals. As one of the most impressive Gothic Revival marvels like, ever, you have to see this thing in person—and obviously take photos. Even the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is moving to Lyndhurst in June 2021 because it’s that major. While inside tours are closed for the season, you can still purchase a Daily Grounds Pass to wander around and contemplate what life must be like for the 1%.

Also worth mentioning is another one of Tarrytown’s most famous homes: Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate. It’s currently closed due to the pandemic, but boy, will it be a beauty to see when it reopens in the new year.

Where To Stay In Tarrytown, NY

If you’re looking for a low-key weekend or a workcation just minutes from Manhattan, check into Tarrytown House Estate, where complimentary WiFi and desks make WFH totally doable—especially when you can sneak drinks by the lawn fire pits in between Zooms. This Westchester County staple has been artfully restored and now boasts several modern rooms in the King Mansion, plus 26 acres of sprawling land fit for hiking, biking, and other outdoorsy things. They’re also pet-friendly and will arm your furry friend with a BarkBox upon arrival. Take a Sleepy Hollow kayak tour through the Hudson River, pick seasonal fruit at Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm, do dinner at Goosefeather, and let your inner athlete loose during badminton, bocce, and croquet.

 

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Live like royalty in one of our King Mansion rooms 👑

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Where To Eat In Tarrytown And Sleepy Hollow, NY

Make a res at Chef Dale Talde’s Goosefeather for crazy good Chinese barbecue and dim sum under strings of backyard lights. If you’re looking for vegan-friendly options, check out Sweet Grass Grill. Waterfront tavern RiverMarket is great for a biodynamic wine list and thoughtfully curated market. There’s also The Twisted Oak for Italian-American signatures, Pik Nik BBQ for smoked meats, Bistro 12 for Mediterranean fare, and Hudson Farmer & the Fish for sweeping views and seasonal staples.

 

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Anytime is a good time for pizza 🍕 Come and get one of our wood fire pizzas designed to your liking. With toppings ranging from baby arugula to even jumbo shrimp 🍤 and much more! * * * * * #pizza #woodfiredpizza #tarrytown #restaurant #yummy #delicious #swag #cool #pretty #foodporn #appealing #drinks #cocktails #togo #takeout #delivery #ubereatsdelivery #doordash #goodtimes #drinks #slurp #bar #liquor #thirsty #instagood #wow #drinkup #photooftheday #greattime #instadaily

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More Places We Love In Hudson Valley

Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, NY: Escape to the heart of Hudson Valley where your personal pine cottage is waiting. Cedar Lakes is now booking three- and four-night stays through winter. All meals, a selection of beverages (boozy and non), and use of the property are included in the $125 per person, per night resort fee. You’ll also be treated to the following comped activities: Monday night football in their Treehouse (!), morning farmer’s markets stocked with fresh produce, Friday night trivia, and Saturday fall fests with campy pastimes (think canoeing, tennis, fishing, basketball, field games, and more). Did we mention there are Bob Ross-inspired paint nights? (BYO wig!)

 

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GOOD NEWS! We are now offering shorter stays beginning October 5 🍂⁣ ⁣ Come enjoy 3-night stays, either Monday-Thursday or Thursday-Sunday in our Sleepy Pine Cottages or Garden Suites beginning October 5.* (All other cottages continue to require a 6-night stay.)⁣ ⁣ Interested in the Farmhouse? Enter FALLFARMHOUSE for 20% off from now until November 22 🎃⁣ ⁣ *All accommodations are Monday-Sunday for Thanksgiving week

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Crabtree’s Kittle House Restaurant & Inn in Chappaqua, NY: Crabtree is another beyond-cute inn made for a romantic getaway with your main. Nestled in a hamlet in Westchester County, it has charm for days and maybe a few ghosts, since it was built in 1790 and served as a former roadhouse during the Prohibition era. Famous for hosting late-night ragers before becoming a private girls’ school and then a restaurant and inn, it has quite the collection of stories within its walls (along with an award-winning wine cellar in the basement). The restaurant’s ever-changing, locally-sourced menu also makes this landmark a one-stop shop for old-world accommodations and fine dining. 

 

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Treat Dad to a special Father’s Day this Sunday! Choose from our brunch and dinner options on premise and takeout ➡️ www.crabtreeskittlehouse.com/dining #fathersday #dad #garden #outside #socialdistancing #brunch #dinner #takeout #togo #curbside #family #together #special #hudsonvalley #westchester

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Image: Mohonk Rd, New Paltz. Jueun Song / Unsplash 

The Betches’ Guide To Provincetown

We may be living through a pandemic, but we’re still feeling the urge to travel (safely). After canceling trips that had been planned pre-pandemic, booking new trips we assured ourselves would be “totally fine” by the time they came around, and then having to cancel those, too, we’ve all come to accept that the pandemic has changed the travel game in 2020. Luckily, there are plenty of local places to safely explore that will give you just as much fun and relaxation as traveling abroad to somewhere dreamy, like St. Tropez. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit—but to be honest, I did get a genuine feeling of being a world away when I traveled to Provincetown, a seaside town on Cape Cod.

There’s always something happening in Provincetown (which often goes by the nickname “P-Town”), even during a COVID-19 summer. If you Google “Provincetown”, you’ll instantly find all the historic info about it, like how it’s home to where the Mayflower landed in 1620. But what really makes this coastal town feel different from the rest is its free spirit and high energy. It’s a top LGBTQ+ destination, a haven for artists of all kinds, and it’s f*cking fun. Storefronts down the main street are decorated with signs that solidify the town’s strong message of love and acceptance. Commercial Street is a vibrant and easily walkable strip that serves as the town’s main street where you’ll find tons of stores, restaurants, and hotels.

One of the greatest benefits of traveling to P-Town during the pandemic is its mandatory safety measures. Social distancing is practiced at every establishment, with tables six feet apart at all restaurants and stores only permitting specified capacities. And mask enforcement is no joke here. You can’t walk around Commercial Street without a mask on. There are signs deeming it a “mandatory mask zone”.

It might sound like walking around a summer town with a mask on is a drag, but TBH, it really made me feel safe and put my mind at ease. And FYI, as of August 4, 2020, Massachusetts requires out-of-state travelers to quarantine for 14 days or show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test, excluding New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Hawaii.

How To Get There

Except for Hawaii, all exempt states whose travelers can visit Provincetown without quarantining are a manageable distance away by car. We drove from New York and clocked in a five-and-a-half-hour road trip there, but it was an enjoyable drive with almost no traffic. If you want to ball out, you can also get there by boat. If you don’t have a casual private yacht at your disposal, you can hop on a Boston Harbor Cruise (which leaves out of Boston, duh). The ride is 90 minutes each way, and round-trip tickets cost $94. 

Pro tip: If you’re driving to P-Town, you *must* make a pit stop in Northwest Harwich to grab ice cream at a glorious place called Sweet Izzy. It’s pretty much on your way there and only 50 minutes outside of P-Town. It’s a full vegan ice cream shop, and all of its products are made in-house with only organic ingredients. We loved it so much we stopped once on the way there, and once on the way home (calories don’t count on vacation, right?). It’s also located directly next to a trampoline park, a local staple that’s been around for over 60 years. Definitely pay them a visit too (tickets cost $8 for 10 minutes), but remember to jump first and enjoy your ice cream second.

Where To Stay

Provincetown is a compact, small town, so here’s an easy rule of thumb for finding a hotel: if you want to stay on the main strip of town (which could be loud), look for hotels on or right off of Commercial Street. This street is adjacent to the water, so many establishments have water views or are waterfront hotels. If you want to be somewhere with a little less noise, but a short walking distance away from town, look for hotels on Bradford Street.

We opted for Eben House, a bed-and-breakfast on Bradford Street, so we were close to the action but also got a quiet night’s sleep. The grounds have great communal spaces, like a porch with an Insta-worthy hammock and a nautical-themed saltwater pool area. It’s also a 60-second walk to town, making it super convenient.

Other options are Pilgrim House, a “centrally-located, year-round” luxury hotel that is also home to The Landing Bistro and Bar; there’s also Salt House Inn, a fully renovated bed-and-breakfast located right in the center of town known for its signature house-made rustic breakfast. 

Pro tip: Upon booking your reservations, ask your hotel what safety measures are in place. It’s nice to get away, but what good is a vacation without peace of mind?

How To Get Around

One of the many things that make P-town so great is that everything is pretty much walkable. The furthest distance we ever walked during our stay was 12 minutes, and it was a fun stroll through town. Having said that, if you need a taxi or Uber for any reason, they’re available.

Where To Eat

No matter where you choose to eat, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a fun and safe experience in Provincetown. Restaurants and cafes cater to all cuisines, but given that it’s a coastal town, you can’t miss out on the fresh seafood. 

Our favorite restaurant was Strangers and Saints, an innovative eatery in the art gallery area of town. The cocktails are top-notch, and each dish was better than the next. There are even three different outdoor areas to choose from upon making a reservation. We picked the front patio (which we loved), but the herb garden and back patio looked equally impressive.

You won’t be able to miss The Patio when walking through town. The outdoor deck is decorated with huge blue-striped umbrellas and string lights. The vibes are better than the food here, but it’s worth a visit, although it’s on the expensive side. Reservations are required with a credit card, and there’s a table limit of one hour and 45 minutes. 

The historic Red Inn restaurant is “all about old-world charm and new-world pleasure”. It’s the town’s classiest place to eat and has a raw bar and cocktail happy hour from 2:30pm to 5:00pm daily. 

For true P-town beach vibes, you need to hit up Canteen for drinks and lobster rolls. This beach shack is filled with tables painted with seafood puns like “Oh My Cod” and serves excellent pre-mixed cocktails and quick bites. There’s also access to the beach, making for a great photo backdrop after a few cocktails. 

Pro tip: Since social distancing is practiced everywhere, reservations are a necessity during dinner hours. Aim to make your dinner reservations as late as possible, since most things shut down by 11 pm. Because you can’t go out to bars during this time, a late reservation will allow you to enjoy your day to the fullest and give you a table to enjoy cocktails later in the evening over dinner. Be sure to call ahead and ask if there’s a time limit for your table reservation. 

What To Do

It was crowded during our weekday stay in town, but given it was the week of Carnival (P-town’s biggest celebration of the year), we heard it was actually pretty empty compared to a normal year. Since the parade was canceled, this was to be expected, but there were still people out and about. No matter when you choose to visit, manage your expectations knowing that you won’t get a 100% genuine experience in any town you travel to during COVID (for obvious reasons). I personally thought we wouldn’t be allowed out of our houses until 2021, so I’m just grateful to be able to travel at all, even locally.

Enjoy a day poolside and let your rainbow flag fly at the Boatslip waterfront resort. Their bread and butter is their famous “tea dance” happy hour, but it’s unfortunately canceled for the 2020 season due to COVID safety restrictions. There’s a $12 cover charge that gets you a lounge chair and towel (cash only), and be sure to get there early as it’s first come, first served. They’re famous for their Planter’s Punch cocktails, and after getting lit from just two of them, I can certainly see why.

There’s an abundance of ice cream shops and candy stores in town. ScottCakes, Provincetown Fudge Factory, Cabot’s Candy Factory, and Ptown Scoop are some of the best spots to indulge.

Rent bikes from Provincetown Bike Rentals and put in that cardio work on one of the many bike trails throughout the area. Given that it’s a coastal town at the cape’s tip, the beach options are endless. Pack a beach bag, and don’t forget the SPF.

Weed is legal in the glorious state of Massachusetts. All you need to score some goodies is a valid ID showing you’re over 18 years old. The lines can seem long at the town’s only dispensary, Curaleaf, but they move pretty fast. Also, make sure you have cash or a debit card on you, because they don’t accept credit cards.

Itinerary
Day 1

☆ Make an ice cream pitstop at Sweet Izzy

☆ Check into hotel

☆ Explore Provincetown

☆ Pre-dinner drinks at The Canteen (Note: they do not take reservations, but you should be fine without them)

☆ Sunset dinner at The Patio (the reservation table limit is 1 hour 45 minutes and a credit card is required for reservations)

Day 2

☆ Spend the day lounging poolside at The Boatslip

          ☆ $12 cover charge with lounge chair and towel (cash only)

          ☆ Come early (first come, first served. No reservations)

          ☆ Open 10am-4pm

☆ Pre-dinner drinks at Aquabar

☆ 9pm dinner reservation at Strangers & Saints

Day 3

☆ Check out of hotel

☆ Grab coffee and treats to-go at the famous Provincetown Portuguese Bakery

☆ GTFO of P-Town and head home

Images: Joana Mascioli; James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Is It Safe To Take A Train, Flight, Or Road Trip? What You Need To Know

Your European vacation is canceled and your shoe-box sized apartment is sitting at an unbearable temperature of 105°. If you’re one of the lucky ones who still has a job, Mondays are basically indistinguishable from the weekend and your vacation days feel pretty much useless. At least we’ve made it to summer, and halfway through this dreadful year.

The CDC still advises against travel, and the best way to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19 is to stay home and limit your interactions with other people. However, being around people—particularly in enclosed spaces—is what spreads coronavirus, not the actual act of traveling. This means that there are still ways to take a vacation and plan ahead to ensure you stay as safe as possible this summer. As every company’s email newsletter informed us back in March, these are unprecedented times. So take precautions when allowing yourself to decompress, safely take a vacation, and try to dull the pain of 2020 with tequila sodas.

Travel, But Make It Local

Travel, both internationally and domestically, has obviously taken a serious hit due to the pandemic, with a low point on April 14th of only 87,000 fliers, according to the TSA. Since then we’ve seen a gradual increase in travel both in the air and on the ground as states rushed to open. Memorial Day weekend seemed to be the turning point when everyone just thought we could forget about the pandemic and get on with our lives, with a 48.5 percent increase in road travel compared to the previous weekend. Unfortunately, this jump and people’s general unwillingness to socially distance resulted in a huge spike in coronavirus cases. Anddd this is why we can’t have nice things.

The moral of the story: don’t be that guy! If you’re going to travel this summer, now is the time to keep your group exclusive and spend your money on fancy sh*t rather than just flocking to the hottest vacation spot (or literal COVID hot spot). Forgo the crowded Lake of the Ozarks pool party and show off your bikini body via Instagram from a private pool in an Airbnb instead. Skip the long flight and treat yourself to summer loungewear or dinner on a socially distant street-side patio. We’re always talking about how we want to be where the people aren’t, so let’s take advantage of this opportunity and built-in excuse for getting out of plans.

It also helps to limit your groups, wear a mask when social distancing isn’t possible, and avoid peak travel times. Before booking and going on a trip, be sure to monitor the number of cases in the area you are visiting, follow travel recommendations, and definitely don’t ignore some states’ 14-day quarantine mandates and get arrested.

“Help Me, I’m Poor,” -The Airline Industry, Probably

 

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While your pink Away luggage set collects dust, your preferred airline has gone into a tailspin and the remainder of 2020 is looking increasingly bleak for the industry. American Airlines may furlough 20,000 employees starting October 1st when the federal bailout expires. United said they could lose 36,000 jobs in the fall. That said, should you be rushing to give them your money? While before, you would probably book flights based on what was cheapest, now you might want to choose your airline carefully. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, airlines have claimed to be doing all they can to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, as the economic pressures loom and lockdowns are lifted, there has been a gradual abandonment of precautions. Flights have become increasingly full, and airlines like American are booking back at full capacity. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) called his jam-packed connecting flight to Texas  “incredibly irresponsible” and “high-risk.” Meanwhile, airlines are not prioritizing cleaning, according to a recent Association of Flight Attendants survey where only 44 percent of flight attendants said their planes were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between flights. A worker from American Airlines’ evening shift also stated that she and a few colleagues had only ten minutes to clean some incoming flights before they had to board more passengers. Considering I spend double that amount of time just on my nighttime skin care routine, I don’t think ten minutes is enough time to sanitize a whole plane’s armrests and tray tables.

As we know from collecting air miles (remember those?), not all airlines are created equally. Delta will continue to not sell middle seats through the summer, and United will allow you to switch to a different flight if the one you are booked on becomes too full. While most airlines have policies advising all passengers to wear masks during flights, some airlines (you can guess which one) are not enforcing them.

Not Feelin’ Fly Like A G6

Air travel is risky due to the increased time around large numbers of people in enclosed spaces, but if you must travel by plane, be sure to take the necessary precautions. Take the time to disinfect your seat, area, and hands, and opt for shorter flights without layovers to help reduce your exposure. Dr. Farley Cleghorn tells National Geographic, “Choose a window seat as far from the restroom as possible. Keep the overhead vent open and toward your face—continuous airflow creates a small, invisible ‘wall’ that restricts (at least slightly) the exhaled air from other passengers.”

If international travel is essential for you, be aware that some airlines are prioritizing business class seats, which currently can cost as much as some people’s annual salary. While on July 10th American Airlines told flight attendants that “for now, it’s OK for customers to move to different seats in the same cabin,” that policy isn’t always the case. For one couple trying to get home to Australia from the U.S., their only option might be a $24,000 USD business class ticket. Somewhere out there an out-of-touch, super-rich person (Ivanka, is that you?) who only flies private thinks that must be the normal cost of a seat in economy…must be nice.

Trains: Bad And Bougie, Or Just Bad?

Trains can conjure two types of imagery: relaxing on a humming passenger train in comfortable seats like you’re on your way to Hogwarts, or being shoulder-to-shoulder on the subway with a guy who smells as you try to drown out someone’s argument with a podcast on your daily commute. 

Doesn’t the first option of train travel just feel so European? While you may just be chugging upstate, it feels like you could be making your way through the Italian countryside. Even though European travel is off the table this summer, trains remain a safer option during coronavirus. Amtrak offers flexible bookings, limited seats for sale, and even private rooms. If your train travel is a little less “martinis in the lounge carriage” and more “essential commute on the L in Chicago at 6am”, you definitely deserve a vacation. Even though cities like New York have gone to great lengths to clean and sanitize their subway systems, transit employees have been heavily impacted by coronavirus with many deaths in the early stages of lockdown. Regardless of the type of train you’re taking, be sure to stay six feet apart when possible and wear a mask.

Roadtrip > Eurotrip

 

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Ok, fine, an Aperol Spritz in Positano is probably better than Bud Lights from a cooler by a murky lake, but traveling by car is likely the safest way to vacation this summer. It allows the least contact with other people and the most control of your surroundings, plus gas is at record low prices. If you’ve ever dreamed of being Britney Spears in Crossroads and driving down the highway in a convertible with your besties, now is the time!

“Traveling by airplane is much higher risk than traveling by car with your family,” Carl Fichtenbaum, an epidemiologist with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, tells CNBC. If you don’t own a car, renting one is fairly easy, or upgrade to a camper van and convince your boyfriend that you are the next Caelynn and Dean, without having to meet on Bachelor in Paradise. Once you rent the vehicle, clean and sanitize it, then download Britney’s full discography for when there’s no cell service. (That last part is just a personal recommendation, not the CDC’s.)

Before you leave, pack a COVID tool kit with hand sanitizer, masks, and wipes. While on your journey, try to limit interacting with others as much as possible: bring your own snacks to avoid going into convenience stores, pay at the pump rather than inside, and limit your number of stops—particularly in public bathrooms, as they can be cramped, and flushing a toilet can stir up aerosol particles. (If we weren’t germaphobes before this pandemic, I’m pretty sure we are now.) Once you’ve completed your road trip checklist, you’re ready to hit the open road like a suburban family in a minivan.

Drinks Well Alone

2020 is certainly a wild ride, and America continues to be the world’s Florida. We won’t be getting drunk in the airport lounge this summer, and Maine is the new Greek Islands, but at least the panhandle state stays consistently wild. Plus, on the bright side, you can delay buying another millennial pink bridesmaid dress for your cousin’s destination wedding for at least a year.

With things looking so depressing, it’s definitely time to salvage what’s left of summer 2020 and book a vacation or even a long-term stay to take advantage of working remotely. Being safe doesn’t mean you have to stay in your apartment alone, but it does mean you have to take precautions and limit your interactions with groups of people. And remember, drinking alcohol doesn’t act as an internal sanitizer, but multiple White Claws can help you forget the terrible Zoom dates you went on in April and make summer feel a bit more normal.  

Images: Anna Shvets / Pexels