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
View this post on Instagram
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
View this post on Instagram
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
Let’s be real: we’re at the point in quarantine when all of those “what day is it?” memes are starting to feel a little too on the nose. Tensions are running high, and the only people you’re allowed to see are most likely the ones responsible for pissing you off. Even if you previously loved your roommate(s), you might be starting to find yourself annoyed at the mere sound of their door opening. (And if you already hated your roommates, well, let’s just hope they’re still alive.)
If this resonates, take a deep breath: your relationship with your roommate doesn’t have to suffer just because you’re now seeing one another more frequently than twins in utero. Personally, I’m one of the most easily annoyed human beings on the planet and I’ve somehow… gotten closer with my roommates? Whether it’s the collective trauma, or our pathetically earnest attitudes to keep the peace, or the sacred gift that is wine delivery, we’re finding ways to make these close quarters work. Here are some suggestions for you to do the same:
Try To Keep Separate Schedules
I may have not taken a math class since my freshman year of college, but I’m logical enough to know that the more you see your roommate, the more likely they are to start pissing you off. Maybe you’re feeling claustrophobic because you both keep trying to make dinner at the exact same time. Or maybe they won’t stop binging Five Wives when all you want to do is marathon Sex and the City. In any case, it’s frustrating to feel like your space isn’t truly yours.
Try to combat this by adhering to separate schedules. If your roommate is in the main area, maybe take some solo time in your room for FaceTime dates, catching up on a good book, or testing out a DIY face mask you used to never have time for. If you show that you’re respecting their space (and they’re a decent person), they’ll hopefully do the same for you.
Distract Yourselves With A Shared Project
Please do not bring your Tik Tok dances to the bars when they open
— Tay (@g0nefisching) April 20, 2020
Whether it’s finally organizing the hallway closet, a Pinterest craft, or getting TikTok famous, connecting over a shared project eliminates boredom, and thus some of the tension that may arise when quarantining with another. Plus, a shared project gives you and your roommate something to bond over. Months from now, you can look back at that gallery wall and think, “Aww, remember how we survived this incredibly anxiety-inducing time together?”
Give Yourself Some Date Nights
One of the first things a couples therapist will suggest to struggling partners is to find ways to “rekindle the magic.” Try to do the same thing with your roommate, but without making it weird. (Unless you both want that, in which case, godspeed.)
Find something you share in common and make an activity out of it. This could include having a DIY cocktail night, ordering a huge spread of Chinese takeout, or busting out a puzzle. Quarantine can be brutally depressing for everyone, but by finding ways to make it more fun, you’ll squash some of those bad vibes and create adorable memories.
Build An Apartment Registry For Stuff You Want To Buy
Nothing brings people together like adding things to your online cart and never actually buying them. At the very least, it will get you both onto your computers and out of each other’s faces. Check out some of the killer online sales right now, or scan Etsy to support small businesses. If you don’t have similar tastes, stray away from things like art and throw pillows and look more at utilitarian pieces like vacuums, vegetable spiralizers, and Vitamixes.
Have An Honest (But Chill) Conversation About Cleaning And Social Distancing
Cleaning is inarguably more important during a pandemic, which can be a real problem if your roommate is a Joey and you’re a Monica. To protect yourself from potential resentment, sit down and discuss what you’re going to do to be safe and responsible over the next few months. Also consider using this time to discuss social distancing etiquette—it’s best to be super clear so your roommate isn’t bringing a rando Brad over for the umpteenth time.
If your roommate isn’t taking hygiene or social distancing seriously, lead with empathy and facts: I know you that really wanna hook up with right now, but I don’t feel safe. If they’re still breaking the rules, call the cops. (JK, but maybe consider getting a new roommate after all of this is over.)
Revisit Some Classic Rom-Coms
Just watched You’ve Got Mail. Such a cute movie OMG. Who knew Dave Chapelle was in it!!
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) May 3, 2020
It’s hard to feel any sort of negativity when you’re watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fall in love against a Seattle skyline. Or watching Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fall in love in a NYC bookstore. Or watching Meg Ryan fall in love with Billy Crystal amidst a picturesque fall backdrop. If 90s rom-coms aren’t your thing (first of all, how dare you) find something else like, Harry Potter… or IDK, Jurassic Park. Just pick something you both sort of enjoy, shut up, and let your eyes glaze over as you bond over the gentle escape to a pre-COVID-19 world.
Celebrate A Random Holiday
We’re hoping to be let out of this metaphorical prison soon, but in the mean time we might as well find something to celebrate. Luckily, there are a ton of random holidays in May and June that make it acceptable to throw a “roomies only” party. Pick one and make a big to-do about celebrating it—holidays include National Chocolate Chip Day (May 15), National Wine Day (
every day May 25), Hug Your Cat Day (June 4), Best Friends Day (June 8), International Sushi Day (June 18), and National Selfie Day (June 21). Interpret as you will.
Vent To An Unrelated Friend Or Family Member
Despite all of your efforts, there very well might be a time when you just cannot with your roommate. If that’s the case, lock yourself in your room, make sure the walls are soundproof enough (and if not, turn on some music) and call a family member or unbiased friend to complain. If you’re still worried about your roommate hearing, wait until they’re on a walk, or write it out. Getting your feelings out privately will release some of the tension without having to jeopardize your relationship.
Find Something (Or Someone) You Both Hate And Trash Talk Together
really sad I won’t be able to judge celebs at the met gala while wearing sweatpants this year
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) May 4, 2020
If my corporate career taught me anything, it’s that one of the best ways to bond with someone is by trash talking someone else. What’s something everyone can dislike? Donald Trump? Influencers who aren’t following social distancing rules? The supporting cast of Gossip Girl? Whatever it is, pour a glass of wine and cozy up to complain. Not only will you get out that negativity, but you’ll also bond over your mutual hatred! So cute.
Distract Yourself If You Feel Like Fighting
According to my therapist, our brains are in a constant state of Fight or Flight mode right now—meaning it’s going to be a lot easier for your buttons to be pushed. If you feel yourself starting to spiral into meltdown mode, give yourself some privacy. Go into your bedroom and rage journal like you’re 13 and your younger sister just drew a moustache on your American Girl Doll. Do a hair mask, watch TV on your laptop, take a shower, just do something to save yourself from starting World War III. While it may not be as satisfying, it will save your relationship, and thus your sanity, in the long run.
Remember That This Time Sucks, And Empathize
Quarantine feels terrible for everyone, and it’s not like you and your roommate can slide into each other’s brains and automatically know one another’s feelings. Maybe your roommate is being cranky or lazy because they’re stressed with work, coping with a layoff, or homesick. Their being kind of rude probably has nothing to do with you. It might be hard, but in the moments when you’re feeling annoyed, consider taking a step back and looking at your roommate with affection rather than aggression.
In other words, the world is kind of scary right now and we’re all feeling a little anxious. Be the voice to soothe that anxiety, rather than contribute to it. Not only will this keep you from hating your roommate, but it might even (gasp) bring you closer together? Who knew.
Images: Jorge Flores / Unsplash; gonefisching, kimkardashian, betchesluvthis / Twitter