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

Fraternity ‘Role Model’ Arrested After Allegedly Groping, Punching Flight Attendants

In the latest story of white privilege gone wild, an Ohio man has been charged with three counts of battery following an incident on a Frontier Airlines flight. Max Berry, a 22-year-old from Norwalk who looks like every fraternity’s president, was caught on video going completely berserk on a Frontier flight from Philadelphia to Miami on July 31.

The video, which was posted on Twitter by ABC News reporter Sam Sweeney, has already been viewed over 9 million times. In the clip, Berry can be heard yelling, “My parents are worth over f*cking 2 million goddamn dollars. And you know what? You f*cking suck”. I mean, I know he’s flying a low-cost airline, and while I am certainly worth nowhere near $2 million (take off six zeros and that’s hitting closer to my net worth), $2 million is not exactly the flex Berry thinks it is. I’m sure the airline that pulled in over $2 billion in 2018 is shaking over this guy whose parents… own a nice house in the suburbs.

Later on in the video, he screams, “My grandpa is worth more than this f*ckin’ plane” before screaming something about a “f*cking attorney” and telling a flight attendant trying to get him to calm down to “shut the f*ck up.” Really checking all the boxes for white dude rage fits. (The New York Times was unable to confirm if Mr. Berry did, in fact, retain an attorney.) Other passengers can be heard laughing, probably because this is truly the embodiment of a terrible joke—or, more accurately, a hateful comment one tries to pass off as a joke upon realizing nobody’s laughing. He later appears to punch a male crew member. 

Frontier passenger allegedly touched 2 flight attendants breasts, then screamed his parents are worth $2 million, before punching a flight attendant. Frontier suspended the crew for duct taping the passenger to his seat as they landed in Miami. 22 yr old Max Berry is in custody. pic.twitter.com/4xS9Rwvafx

— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) August 3, 2021


Things started to go south for Mr. Do You Know Who My Dad Is when he ordered his third drink on board (he had already consumed two drinks prior to the meltdown). According to the criminal complaint filed with the Miami-Dade Police Department, Berry brushed his empty cup against a flight attendant’s backside. The flight attendant told him, “don’t touch me.”
Then, Berry spilled his drink and went to the bathroom, from which he emerged shirtless. A flight attendant informed him that he needed to be fully dressed and even helped him get a new shirt out of his carry-on. Re-clothed, he walked around the cabin for about 15 minutes.

That’s when he groped the breasts of another flight attendant, who told him not to touch her and instructed him to sit down. The complaint also said that Berry put his arms around the same two flight attendants later and groped their breasts again. When the male flight attendant approached Berry to ask him to calm down, Berry punched him in the face.

The crew had no choice but to restrain Berry by duct taping him to his seat. (The NY Times reports that a seatbelt extender was also used to restrain him.) He was arrested upon landing at Miami International Airport, which surely put a real damper on his Miami trip.

At first, Frontier Airlines released a statement saying that the flight attendants involved with duct taping Berry had been suspended “pending further investigation”, saying, “unfortunately, the proper policies for restraining a passenger were not followed.” Frontier did not elaborate to the NY Times about what said proper policies for restraining a passenger were, and whether duct tape qualified.

The Association of Flight Attendants dragged Frontier’s initial response; its president, Sara Nelson, said in a statement, “Management suspended the crew as a knee-jerk reaction to a short video clip that did not show the full incident. Management should be supporting the crew at this time, not suspending them.”

After receiving backlash for suspending employees who were allegedly sexually and physically assaulted, Frontier quickly backtracked and at 4:10pm ET on August 3, amended their statement.

“Frontier Airlines maintains the utmost value, respect, concern, and support for all of our flight attendants, including those who were assaulted on this flight. We are supporting the needs of these team members and are working with law enforcement to fully support the prosecution of the passenger involved.” The statement also clarified that the flight attendants involved were placed on paid leave, which the airline says is “in line with an event of this nature pending an investigation.”

Berry was released on a $1,500 bail, and the FBI declined to press felony charges. Berry graduated in May from Ohio Wesleyan University where—and you truly cannot make this up—he was given an award from the Greek life community for being a “perfect role model” and for working to “fight to dismantle fraternity stereotypes.” Stereotypes he singlehandedly embodied all of on that 2 hour and 37 minute flight.

A spokesman for Ohio Wesleyan told the NY Times in an email that the university is “saddened to learn of this situation with one of our graduates.” The spokesman, Cole Hatcher, also asserted, “The case does not involve the university, and the incidents depicted do not reflect Ohio Wesleyan’s values.”

Translation:

idk her

Images: Jason Schronce / Shutterstock.com; SweeneyABC / Twitter; Giphy

Ex-New Yorkers: Welcome To Miami, Where There’s More Freedom & Fewer Rights

Are you tired of paying attention to developing news stories? Are you sick of respecting other people’s personal space during a global pandemic? Are you tired of paying sales tax? 

Here at You Must Miami PR, we believe our winters should be humid and muggy, and our city should be at the mercy of an entire state whose values might be contrary to our own—not the other way around! New York City has been living the high life for far too long.

Lucky for you, Fantastical Florida doesn’t deal with pesky progressive legislation, mask mandates, or securing funding for government projects to better serve the public. And what better place in Florida to capture the diversity and talent incubator you’re leaving behind than magical Miami? You’ll be able to ignore interactions with anyone you may disagree with because we only have two subway lines that go to the exact same places. You’ll meet the same people over and over again, or you’ll buy a car.* The circle of life!

After all, Miami brought you Flo Rida, Pitbull, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Any time you ask yourself, “What’s cooking?” you should immediately pair it with gratitude for mesmerizing Miami. Does ‘what’s cooking’ need spice? We got you—Shakira holds the key to our city. We have our priorities straight and although we know we shouldn’t call Latinas “spicy,” here at You Must Miami PR, we aren’t bound by PC culture or basic human respect. 

If our home crop doesn’t entice you, our transplants include Iggy Pop, Gloria Estefan, and Phil Collins. Do you think you’re better than Phil Collins?** Writer of “In the Air Tonight”? Patrick Bateman of American Psycho’s favorite musician?

Miami also has its tech population. Blake Aaron Ross, co-founder of Mozilla FireFox, was born and bred here. Everyone loves FireFox, right? Right?! And he made the browser for his mother who was frustrated with Internet Explorer—WHAT A GREAT SON. Miamians are wholesome people, even if the state around us is falling apart. 

See, we’re not like Fanning Springs, FL where 50 manatees have died in 2021 from contaminated canals. In miraculous Miami, we’ve only had 15 manatees die for the exact same reason. But dirty canals, dying mammals, and daily “Florida-man” stories should make you ex-New Yorkers feel right at home. Especially since dolphins have started creeping into Brooklyn?! Ugh. Stay in your lane, dolphins.

Shed your masks, shed your legal protections (unless you’re a cop, of course), and shed your New York blues for red-hot Miami!***

 

* Don’t use your blinker, though—no one else does.

**Full-disclosure, Phil Collins did move to Féchy, Switzerland in 2008, but that’s a reflection of him—not Miami. Don’t put that evil on us.

***We don’t necessarily believe in climate change, but we’re legally obligated to tell you a mass exodus from the Florida coast is happening as sea levels rise for some arbitrary reason definitely not related to the ice caps melting.

Image: Gian Cescon / Unsplash

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

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

How To Plan A Couples’ Weekend Getaway To The Hamptons That Isn’t Boring

If you happened to tie the knot before or during the pandemic and have put the honeymoon on pause until flying feels safe again, sneaking in an end-of-summer or early fall escape is still plausible—and probably much-needed.

Enter the Hamptons: an easily-accessible destination if you happen to reside in the tri-state area—or even parts of New England—and don’t mind a drive or a scenic ferry route.

With an expansive backyard that checks all the vacation-worthy boxes (sun, surf, and sand), heading out east is always a good idea in our book. Responsible, socially distant practices and policies also make the Hamptons feel not only doable these days, but welcoming. 

Below are our picks for where to stay, dine, and explore after your weekender bag is packed and you’re ready to go.

Where To Stay

Amangansett’s newest residence, The Roundtree, is beyond dreamy, and ideal for getting away in style. The 15-room, pet-friendly boutique hotel just opened last month, so you know it’s clean, disinfected on the regular, and COVID-compliant. There are even cell phone sanitizing stations in your personal quarters. Now, how’s that for safety precautions?

You can choose between deluxe rooms, suites, and cottages in centuries-old refurbished digs that all come with Frette linens, Matouk towels, and Grown Alchemist bath products. The Roundtree is basically our #1 pick for romance, intimacy, and luxury, all wrapped up in one. And when you book four or more nights, they’ll set you up with a chef for a fall harvest dinner experience for two on the property.

 

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“A stay at The Roundtree means you’ll get to know your neighbors, since there’s so few of you. Perhaps you’re just drinking rose, or, since The Roundtree allows pets, your dog will inevitably run up to greet another on its rolling green grounds. Then you’ll start chatting (six feet apart, of course), and soon enough, you’re waving to them at breakfast or giving them a nod as you both dive into yet another Zoom call. Everything is so laid back, so friendly, that it adds to the atmosphere.” – @ejtay @voguemagazine Consider one of our stand-alone cottages or rooms for weekly and monthly rentals this fall for a socially distanced #workfromvacation experience #theroundtreeamagansett #theroundtreehotel #theroundtree

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Smack dab in the middle of Montauk is the notoriously laid-back “End of the World” Surf Lodge. Kitschy balcony hammocks and a fleet of loaner bikes are part of the perks when it comes to staying here, as is close proximity to the beach—making it a coveted hangout for eating, sleeping, surfing, and repeating. Standard rooms (plus junior and master suites) are boho, yet minimalistic. Their famous outdoor concert series is on pause given the pandemic, but the restaurant remains open with six-feet-apart al fresco seating.

 

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aaaand we’re back! Starting today we’re officially open to hotel guests (only!)—with a new set of safety protocols in place. In the face of all this uncertainty we hope to bring you some sense of comfort and familiarity, and create the escape we all need right now. Rooms are still available for the July 4th weekend and we have take-away dining starting Friday for our neighbors, so let’s finally get this summer started! … Protocols include: -Employees wear masks at all times -Employees are tested weekly -Contactless sanitizing stations -Both in-house cleaning and professional commercial cleaning -Encouraging staff to social-distance outside of work -Immediate response and transparency to a positive test

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One of the sweetest stays in the Hamptons can be found at Baron’s Cove in the quaint whaling village of Sag Harbor. Ideal for a lover’s retreat, the year-round sophisticated refuge boasts 67 rooms, many with gated terraces tailored to sitting outside for sunset cocktails. Its upstairs restaurant is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The spacious pool and surrounding gardens serve as the perfect adult playground, so it’s no wonder Billy Joel, Truman Capote, and Jackson Pollock have all checked in over the years. Pro tip: book in the fall and winter to save on rates.

 

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“This slice of Americana gets even sweeter come fall.” Read more about why Baron’s Cove is the perfect getaway this fall and winter at @marieclairemag Link in bio.

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Where To Eat

If you happen to be near Bridgehampton, our go-to romantic dinner for two is always at the Topping Rose House. The uber-chic Jean-Georges restaurant is a must for celebs, socialites, and diners who want a meal in a swanky setting. It’s also one of the few premiere spots that’s open year-round for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails. As far as the menu goes, the black truffle and Fontina cheese pizza is a must, as are the roasted Maine lobster, seared black sea bass, and crispy salmon sushi. 

 

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Dinner plans anyone? #toppingrosehouse #jeangeorges #longislandrestaurants #hamptonstyle

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Down the road in Bridgehampton is the quaint Bridgehampton Inn & Restaurant, with an idyllic backyard and locally sourced menu that changes from season to season. On Fridays, there’s live music, and Kyle, their esteemed wizard behind the bar, will be more than eager to whip up a bespoke aperitif of your choosing. The family-run establishment also owns the Loaves & Fishes Food Store next door, so be sure to stop in for newlywed must-haves for the home—or to update your registry. 

 

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We are proud to host responsible social distancing. Facial covering masks are required when moving about the premises! Enjoy your evening….. Please arrive with your mask on. #compliance #masks #distancing #outdoordining #sanitize #safe

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More staples in Montauk include roadside seafood shack The Clam Bar for lobster rolls and fried whole belly clams, plus a smorgasbord of other seafood favorites under a cascade of yellow umbrellas. It’s only open for lunch, and highly addictive after you go the first time. 

 

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Perfect Clam Bar weekend. This beautiful 📸 by @newyorkfoodbabes #lobsterroll #joinusforbreakfast #theclambar

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Navy Beach is another spot for good vibes and good times, with picnic tables nestled in the sand and a stay-all-day mentality that makes it hard to leave—and harder to not order more wine. (They have one of the largest selections of rosé in the Hamptons.) Food highlights include the buttermilk fried chicken, jumbo lump crab cake and, obviously, the navy burger. Their sunset views are legendary, and their 200-foot private beach is prime real estate for honeymoon happenings (aka Instagrams).

 

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Stay Safe! Wear your masks, wash your hands, and socially distance! And while your at it, take in the view 😍

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Get a taste of Manhattan in Montauk at Scarpetta at Gurney’s Montauk Hotel & Spa, which is not only on the beach, but set under a cascade of twinkling lights for the ultimate ambiance. You’ll undoubtedly order the classic Italian pastas for the table, but don’t overlook the fresh crudi, the black cod, or the Wagyu strip. Then there’s Showfish at Gurney’s Star Island, with an ingredient-driven menu of veggie-forward dishes as well as crazy good land and sea options.

 

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Scarpetta Newport will be reopening tonight and tomorrow from 5:30pm – 10:00pm for both outdoor and limited indoor seating, ordering for takeout and in-room dining for guests of the resort. This service will resume again on Thursday, June 11th – Sunday, June 14th. Scarpetta @gurneysnewport will continue to evaluate the situation and focus on long-term planning for its reopening. Wishing our Newport employees, guests and community a safe and strong reopening 🤎

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Duryea’s may sound like a laid-back lobster deck with a view, but it’s more like St. Barths or St. Tropez when you arrive to the chic AF destination. Here, the rosé is always flowing, and the plateau de fruits de mer are on point. They’re renowned for their lobster Cobb salad and crudité platters, but it’s the cushy banquettes, overhead fishnet canopy, and effortlessly cool attitude that makes us fall in love with this Montauk mainstay again and again. 

 

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🙌 and just like that- the weekend is upon us! It’s time to put on your white and drink all the pink 😉 . . . . . 📸: @roxyfoodiechronicles #duryeaslobsterdeck #montauk #duryeas #summer #mdw

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If you’ve never been to Tutto il Giorno, make a reservation now. So f*cking pretty, it’s exactly where you want to toast to your nuptials over shared plates of Mediterranean fare. Designed (and owned) by Donna Karan and her daughter, Gabby Karan De Felice, it’s the epitome of backyard garden goals. And they have outposts in both Sag Harbor and Southampton, so you’ll have ample opportunities to visit, depending on where you’re staying.

 

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The family table. Tutto Sag Harbor. Tutto il Giorno. Tutto family. @urbanzen #uzxtutto

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Main Street Tavern is a new spot that just opened this summer, from the team behind Highway Restaurant & Bar in East Hampton. Already gaining a considerable amount of buzz, MST is the tasty newbie on the block with delicious food and charm to boot. They’re currently only offering dinner through takeout or in their outdoor socially distanced beer garden, but definitely order the crispy shrimp, fish and chips, and baked clams.

 

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Cooking up a very tasty opening… Join us THIS Thursday at 5pm! #mainstreettavern

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Other strong contenders for breakfast, lunch, and dinner include: Cowfish (Hampton Bays), Nick & Toni’s (East Hampton), Coche Comedor (by the team behind Nick & Toni’s, La Fondita, and Towline BBQ), The Backyard at Sole East (Montauk), Wölffer Kitchen (Amagansett), Le Bilboquet (Sag Harbor), Greek gem Elaia Estiatorio (Bridgehampton), and il Buco at Mostrador Marram

 

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Breakfast is served. @chefjsmillie @marrammontauk 📷: @giadapaoloni

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What To Do (Socially Distanced)

Yes, the beaches are open—as are almost all restaurants and shops in the various towns—but, obviously, wear your mask and lay your towel, chair, etc. away from others to do your part. For more information on beach permits and parking, check out this handy guide.

 

SoulCycle 

Spinning to the beat may be paused at most indoor studios around the world still, but, naturally, the Hamptons takes it outdoors. Grab a bike for SoulOutside at any of the the Southampton, Bridgehampton, Water Mill, and Montauk locations, but be sure to book early.

Wölffer Estate Drive-Thru

Chances are you’ve seen the socially distant drive-through rosé cart on the ‘gram, because it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever. Pull up, select your pink or bubbly of choice (along with whites, reds, and ciders), then be on your way, contact-free. Should you desire more of a vineyard-type experience, the Estate and Wine Stand are currently offering tasting reservations (with food) six feet apart. 

The drive-thru can be found at the Wölffer Estate Wine Stand in Sagaponack, New York. It’s open daily from 11am to 7pm.

 

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Happy Friday! Need a restock on your favorite Wölffer products for your virtual happy hour? Our drive-thru is open 11am-6pm daily 💕 . . . . . . #wolfferestatevineyard #wolffer #wolfferestatewine #wine #spirits #cider #eastend #hamptons #amagansett #sagharbor #montauk #nyc #localeats #localbusiness #familybusiness #sustainable #sustainablefarming #sustainability #estatewines #localwines #roselocal #rosé #drivethru

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Bike Around Town

Most hotels provide complimentary wheels to scoot around the Hamptons in the summer, and you can be as spread out as you want when riding. Should you be in a house or Airbnb, here are a few more places to rent from:

  1. Khanh Sports
  2. Amagansett Beach & Bicycle
  3. Dan’s Bike Rental
  4. Sag Harbor Cycle Company
  5. Rotations Bicycle Center

Plan A Clambake On The Beach

Hampton Clambake will bring the beach party to you, with a fully organized and delicious clambake on the South and North forks. 

Take Advantage of NYC-Turned-Hamptons Pop-Up Restaurants

This summer, New York City notables such as Marea, Carbone, Kissaki and the aforementioned il Buco have traveled out East to bring the people what they want: platters of spicy rigatoni to go. Some of these pop-ups come with a hefty price tag (like Marea’s dinner for four for $450), but you get to enjoy a Michelin-starred meal in the comfort of your own home. Plus, it’s a serious spread. Think: marinated olives, lobster and burrata, panzanella salad, steak with salsa verde, summer squash, sautéed greens, seasonal pie, and a bottle of Hampton Water Rosé.

 

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Weekend Menu: Solved ✅ Order our Seafood boil by Thursday at 5pm and you could be eating this spread on the 4th. Available for delivery in The Hamptons or pick-up/delivery in NYC. Also comes with a bottle of @hamptonwater Rosé! Link in bio to order! 🐟🦐🦞🦀🇺🇸

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Image: Hamish Duncan / Unsplash; theroundtreeamagansett, thesurflodge, baronscove, toppingrosehouse, bridgehamptoninnandrestaurant, theclambar, navybeachmontauk, scarpettarestaurants, duryeaslobsterdeck, tuttoilgiorno, themainstreettavern, monstradormarram, wolfferwine, mareanyc / Instagram

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