Summer is slipping away before our very eyes, and we’re left wondering if it was ever here at all. It’s safe to say summer 2020 has not gone as planned considering Americans basically can’t leave the country, masks have replaced bikinis as the season’s must-have item, and the most exciting thing to happen in August was Michelle Obama giving us this year’s mantra: “It is what it is.”
Luckily, there’s still one last opportunity for a blowout this season: Labor Day weekend. And by blowout, we mean maybe drinking too much alcohol and getting too much sun with a couple of friends from your bubble. LDW is the perfect time to enjoy the beach or the mountains and celebrate that we’ve made it through eight months of this dumpster fire that is 2020. There are plenty of viable options from road trips to staycations, or even your regular park hangs. If your European vacation was canceled this summer, don’t worry, you can still find overpriced hotels and cheap wine in America.
Here’s how you can plan a Labor Day weekend vacation that isn’t lame, but also keeps your stress levels at bay, and is as safe as possible—because no one needs a repeat of Memorial Day weekend and its resulting COVID hot spots.
People Suck, Just Avoid Them
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Honestly, being antisocial is my preferred vibe even without a pandemic, so I’m here to tell you to avoid crowded vacation spots that are sure to be packed with people. Nothing spoils a good tequila buzz like screaming children or a million people in your vicinity germing it up, anyway. On the upside, Labor Day tends to be the less busy long weekend of the summer compared to Memorial Day. Still, that doesn’t mean you should flock to a packed vacation spot or high-risk social gathering (*side eyes those huge parties in the Hamptons where nobody is distancing*). Instead, opt for lesser-known destinations with a small group, and be sure to plan outdoor activities. Think wine tastings, picnics, or just drinking bottomless rosé by a private pool.
Do Your Research. What, Like It’s Hard?
Look up the number of cases, quarantine restrictions, and mask requirements for that state, and stay up to date on the CDC’s travel guidelines. Google now has a handy feature that allows you to type in any destination at google.com/travel, and to find key details including the percentage of available hotel rooms and flights operating the route, plus travel advisory info and cases. Don’t take a chance and just show up somewhere like a bunch of uninvited frat bros who heard there was a party with girls and a keg—the information is out there, so use it.
Find Accommodations That Are Actually Accommodating
Choosing an accommodation that has implemented meaningful precautions is key. It’s not March anymore—hotels and resorts have had six months to figure out how to accommodate social distancing, and thankfully, many are doing it well. Do your research to find places that have gone beyond sending out an email regarding these ~unprecedented times~ and are going the extra mile to keep guests safe. From private pantries and grocery delivery to personal plunge pools, an in-room bar, and distanced activities, it’s not difficult to find a hotel that will keep you entertained while isolated.
Another way to stay safe is to book an Airbnb that has contactless check-in and good ratings for cleanliness. With so many options like Airbnb Plus for luxury stays or homes set up for long-term getaways, you can find your perfect escape from the city. Also, a word to the wise: the farther away your accommodation is from other people, the louder you can blast “WAP” and learn the dance for your latest TikTok.
Shut Up And Drive
We get it, you have a million miles from flying for work and you couldn’t possibly survive without TSA PreCheck. Well, it’s basically useless now because just like those international flights, we’re grounded. The solution? Drive rather than fly this Labor Day weekend, as you have much more control over your environment in a car. If you rent a vehicle, be sure to sanitize the inside and try to make as few stops as possible. Who knew 2020 would be the year of the road trip and that we’d see a serious surge in the RV business? Pre-COVID, we definitely thought RVs were reserved for suburban families in the midwest making their annual trip to Mount Rushmore, but booking an RV can actually be cute and worthy of your Instagram grid, not to mention a safer option than flying.
Pack The New Essentials
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You know, the germophobe kit that would make you a weird Howie Mandel wannabe a year ago that is now the standard? Regardless of where you’re heading for the long weekend, be sure to come prepared. Pack a coronavirus safety bag with masks, sanitizer, and wipes so that you can clean your travel area or any surfaces upon arrival. “Wallet. Phone. Keys. Mask. Wipes. Purell.” The leave-the-house-checklist has got a lot longer this year.
Treat Yo’Self With The Money You’ve Saved
Splurge on something you might not usually buy with the money you’ve saved from not leaving your house and keeping travel domestic this summer. This could be something special at home, like a night in with a catered dinner, a massage therapist that comes to your backyard or balcony (if restrictions allow), a private tour, or delivery from a nice restaurant that’s normally only dine-in. These options all work for your staycation at home, too. After dealing with listening to your significant other’s work voice since March, it’s time to treat yourself.
Listen To Michelle: It Is What It Is
Remember when we all thought lockdown would be done by May? Lol, now we’ve nearly hit all four seasons in isolation and collectively binged at least three reality shows. Turns out avoiding touching your face wasn’t the ticket to flattening the curve. Regardless, we’ve found a way to (somewhat) enjoy summer, even if it meant wine tasting locally rather than in Tuscany. The vineyard pics look pretty much the same regardless of the continent, so does it even matter?
Before summer is gone, say a little toast to the fleeting season and its unexpected events. From getting out of quarantining with a boy you had no business moving in with to spending countless hours contacting airlines for credits in lieu of your canceled honeymoon, it has really been a rollercoaster. So plan a Labor Day vacay that’s distanced, has lots of White Claws on ice, avoids everyone but particularly anti-maskers, and maybe even for a few days takes your mind off of all the adult Trump children’s dead eyes that streamed live at you last week. You deserve it!
Images: Taylor Rooney / Unsplash; @betchestravel / Instagram