Your European vacation is canceled and your shoe-box sized apartment is sitting at an unbearable temperature of 105°. If you’re one of the lucky ones who still has a job, Mondays are basically indistinguishable from the weekend and your vacation days feel pretty much useless. At least we’ve made it to summer, and halfway through this dreadful year.
The CDC still advises against travel, and the best way to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19 is to stay home and limit your interactions with other people. However, being around people—particularly in enclosed spaces—is what spreads coronavirus, not the actual act of traveling. This means that there are still ways to take a vacation and plan ahead to ensure you stay as safe as possible this summer. As every company’s email newsletter informed us back in March, these are unprecedented times. So take precautions when allowing yourself to decompress, safely take a vacation, and try to dull the pain of 2020 with tequila sodas.
Travel, But Make It Local
Travel, both internationally and domestically, has obviously taken a serious hit due to the pandemic, with a low point on April 14th of only 87,000 fliers, according to the TSA. Since then we’ve seen a gradual increase in travel both in the air and on the ground as states rushed to open. Memorial Day weekend seemed to be the turning point when everyone just thought we could forget about the pandemic and get on with our lives, with a 48.5 percent increase in road travel compared to the previous weekend. Unfortunately, this jump and people’s general unwillingness to socially distance resulted in a huge spike in coronavirus cases. Anddd this is why we can’t have nice things.
The moral of the story: don’t be that guy! If you’re going to travel this summer, now is the time to keep your group exclusive and spend your money on fancy sh*t rather than just flocking to the hottest vacation spot (or literal COVID hot spot). Forgo the crowded Lake of the Ozarks pool party and show off your bikini body via Instagram from a private pool in an Airbnb instead. Skip the long flight and treat yourself to summer loungewear or dinner on a socially distant street-side patio. We’re always talking about how we want to be where the people aren’t, so let’s take advantage of this opportunity and built-in excuse for getting out of plans.
It also helps to limit your groups, wear a mask when social distancing isn’t possible, and avoid peak travel times. Before booking and going on a trip, be sure to monitor the number of cases in the area you are visiting, follow travel recommendations, and definitely don’t ignore some states’ 14-day quarantine mandates and get arrested.
“Help Me, I’m Poor,” -The Airline Industry, Probably
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While your pink Away luggage set collects dust, your preferred airline has gone into a tailspin and the remainder of 2020 is looking increasingly bleak for the industry. American Airlines may furlough 20,000 employees starting October 1st when the federal bailout expires. United said they could lose 36,000 jobs in the fall. That said, should you be rushing to give them your money? While before, you would probably book flights based on what was cheapest, now you might want to choose your airline carefully.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, airlines have claimed to be doing all they can to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, as the economic pressures loom and lockdowns are lifted, there has been a gradual abandonment of precautions. Flights have become increasingly full, and airlines like American are booking back at full capacity. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) called his jam-packed connecting flight to Texas “incredibly irresponsible” and “high-risk.” Meanwhile, airlines are not prioritizing cleaning, according to a recent Association of Flight Attendants survey where only 44 percent of flight attendants said their planes were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between flights. A worker from American Airlines’ evening shift also stated that she and a few colleagues had only ten minutes to clean some incoming flights before they had to board more passengers. Considering I spend double that amount of time just on my nighttime skin care routine, I don’t think ten minutes is enough time to sanitize a whole plane’s armrests and tray tables.
As we know from collecting air miles (remember those?), not all airlines are created equally. Delta will continue to not sell middle seats through the summer, and United will allow you to switch to a different flight if the one you are booked on becomes too full. While most airlines have policies advising all passengers to wear masks during flights, some airlines (you can guess which one) are not enforcing them.
Not Feelin’ Fly Like A G6
Air travel is risky due to the increased time around large numbers of people in enclosed spaces, but if you must travel by plane, be sure to take the necessary precautions. Take the time to disinfect your seat, area, and hands, and opt for shorter flights without layovers to help reduce your exposure. Dr. Farley Cleghorn tells National Geographic, “Choose a window seat as far from the restroom as possible. Keep the overhead vent open and toward your face—continuous airflow creates a small, invisible ‘wall’ that restricts (at least slightly) the exhaled air from other passengers.”
If international travel is essential for you, be aware that some airlines are prioritizing business class seats, which currently can cost as much as some people’s annual salary. While on July 10th American Airlines told flight attendants that “for now, it’s OK for customers to move to different seats in the same cabin,” that policy isn’t always the case. For one couple trying to get home to Australia from the U.S., their only option might be a $24,000 USD business class ticket. Somewhere out there an out-of-touch, super-rich person (Ivanka, is that you?) who only flies private thinks that must be the normal cost of a seat in economy…must be nice.
Trains: Bad And Bougie, Or Just Bad?
Trains can conjure two types of imagery: relaxing on a humming passenger train in comfortable seats like you’re on your way to Hogwarts, or being shoulder-to-shoulder on the subway with a guy who smells as you try to drown out someone’s argument with a podcast on your daily commute.
Doesn’t the first option of train travel just feel so European? While you may just be chugging upstate, it feels like you could be making your way through the Italian countryside. Even though European travel is off the table this summer, trains remain a safer option during coronavirus. Amtrak offers flexible bookings, limited seats for sale, and even private rooms. If your train travel is a little less “martinis in the lounge carriage” and more “essential commute on the L in Chicago at 6am”, you definitely deserve a vacation. Even though cities like New York have gone to great lengths to clean and sanitize their subway systems, transit employees have been heavily impacted by coronavirus with many deaths in the early stages of lockdown. Regardless of the type of train you’re taking, be sure to stay six feet apart when possible and wear a mask.
Roadtrip > Eurotrip
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Ok, fine, an Aperol Spritz in Positano is probably better than Bud Lights from a cooler by a murky lake, but traveling by car is likely the safest way to vacation this summer. It allows the least contact with other people and the most control of your surroundings, plus gas is at record low prices. If you’ve ever dreamed of being Britney Spears in Crossroads and driving down the highway in a convertible with your besties, now is the time!
“Traveling by airplane is much higher risk than traveling by car with your family,” Carl Fichtenbaum, an epidemiologist with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, tells CNBC. If you don’t own a car, renting one is fairly easy, or upgrade to a camper van and convince your boyfriend that you are the next Caelynn and Dean, without having to meet on Bachelor in Paradise. Once you rent the vehicle, clean and sanitize it, then download Britney’s full discography for when there’s no cell service. (That last part is just a personal recommendation, not the CDC’s.)
Before you leave, pack a COVID tool kit with hand sanitizer, masks, and wipes. While on your journey, try to limit interacting with others as much as possible: bring your own snacks to avoid going into convenience stores, pay at the pump rather than inside, and limit your number of stops—particularly in public bathrooms, as they can be cramped, and flushing a toilet can stir up aerosol particles. (If we weren’t germaphobes before this pandemic, I’m pretty sure we are now.) Once you’ve completed your road trip checklist, you’re ready to hit the open road like a suburban family in a minivan.
Drinks Well Alone
2020 is certainly a wild ride, and America continues to be the world’s Florida. We won’t be getting drunk in the airport lounge this summer, and Maine is the new Greek Islands, but at least the panhandle state stays consistently wild. Plus, on the bright side, you can delay buying another millennial pink bridesmaid dress for your cousin’s destination wedding for at least a year.
With things looking so depressing, it’s definitely time to salvage what’s left of summer 2020 and book a vacation or even a long-term stay to take advantage of working remotely. Being safe doesn’t mean you have to stay in your apartment alone, but it does mean you have to take precautions and limit your interactions with groups of people. And remember, drinking alcohol doesn’t act as an internal sanitizer, but multiple White Claws can help you forget the terrible Zoom dates you went on in April and make summer feel a bit more normal.
Images: Anna Shvets / Pexels
As coronavirus cases climb in the United States, American passports appear to be losing their value. But America is GREAT AGAIN, haven’t you heard? Thanks, Donny! As if a raging pandemic, lack of accessible healthcare, and systemic racism weren’t enough, you can say au revoir to your European summer holiday, as well as vacations in a bunch of other places around the globe. Great. As the European Union prepares to reopen, U.S. travelers did not make the 15-country safe list and have officially been blocked from entering. So, where else can Americans travel right now? And better yet, should they travel or cancel trips this summer?
“You Can’t Sit With Us”—The EU, Probably
When the EU closed its borders in March, it was no small decision. The same goes for continuing the ban for Americans, considering the fact that 15 million U.S. travelers visit Europe each year, and the industry creates jobs for 26 million people. Clearly, the bloc’s economy will take a substantial hit as the travel industry’s normally bustling summer season comes and (likely) goes without its usual international visitors. The decision was based on epidemiology as opposed to the economy, with the New York Times reporting that the EU “sought to balance health concerns with politics, diplomacy and the desperate need for tourism revenue.”
Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan are on the list of approved countries, and that list will be reviewed every two weeks. However, it seems that the U.S. will have to make a serious reduction in new cases in order to be reconsidered, so we won’t be holding our breath. Unlike Americans, travelers from the approved country list will be permitted access to all EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. So if you had hoped for some thirst-trap pics for your grid in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon this summer, you’ll have to keep your posting closer to home.
There’s good news for some Americans, as the ban pertains to your residency rather than your passport. This means if you’re an American living in one of the approved countries and can prove your residency there, you may be able to enter. Congrats—it’s like a get out of jail free card!
Cruel Summer—The Countries Americans Can’t Visit
In addition to the EU, there are also a number of other countries not allowing Americans in. Canada’s
regulation hottie Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced the continuation of its border closure with the U.S. until August 21, with the possibility of another extension. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and China’s borders also remain closed to all international arrivals.
honestly it’s surprising that the Bahamas are just now banning Americans when Fyre Festival was like three years ago
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) July 20, 2020
As of July 22, the Bahamas has once again closed its borders to the U.S. due to the recent rise in cases stateside. However, if you’re bougie enough to have a private plane or yacht, you can keep planning your vacation as long as you can provide a negative COVID test… but you may get roasted by the internet for being a covidiot if you do.
Countries Open To American Travelers
Dreaming of the beach? You might be in luck, as a number of Caribbean countries are open to visitors. Belize, Barbados, and Jamaica are all open to international travel, as well as St. Barts, St. Lucia, and Antigua. However, each country or territory has its own COVID restrictions upon entry. Some include providing a negative COVID-19 test no more than a week old, or temperature and health checks upon arrival.
Mexico is also an option, even though the land border between the country and the U.S. remains closed. You can still arrive in certain areas by plane, but keep in mind that states are opening in varying degrees, so not everywhere in the country is ready for visitors.
Despite the ban, Europe is not completely off-limits to Americans this summer; the open countries just might not be the places you have at the top of your bucket list. Albania and Serbia are European countries not yet in the EU that are currently allowing international travelers, so start your research on their tourist destinations if you really want to book a trip. Apparently Serbia has a killer wine region—who knew? Additionally, Croatia has decided to issue its own travel requirements outside of the EU’s restrictions, allowing for non-EU citizens to visit, but requiring proof of pre-booked accommodations. Meanwhile, in the UK (no longer an EU member, as you may recall), international travel is permitted; however, all American arrivals must quarantine for 14 days upon entry.
“Just Because You Ameri-can Doesn’t Mean You Ameri-should”
I hate to be the Debbie Downer here, but even though some countries are open doesn’t mean you should be booking the first flight out. The CDC and the U.S. State Department still have travel advisories that warn against non-essential travel. You know what sucks more than wearing a mask during your staycation? Being on a ventilator.
As much as you’re eager to take new travel Instagrams, we are still amidst a pandemic, and there are still a lot of risks associated with travel. Air travel may increase your exposure to the virus due to difficulties with social distancing and being near people indoors for an extended period of time. If you do decide to fly, take the common-sense precautions we’ve been talking about for the last five months: wash your hands regularly, wear a mask, cover your face when you cough or sneeze, and stay six feet apart when possible.
Travelers should also consider the practical risks, like obtaining health insurance. Some travel health insurance becomes void when there is a government travel advisory, so be sure to always check to see that you will be covered in case you get sick or injured during a vacation.
Many countries are not as lax as the U.S., with nations like Canada and New Zealand still keeping their borders completely closed to visitors even though they have drastically fewer cases and deaths than the U.S. The countries are also enforcing mandatory 14-day quarantine to anyone who enters the country. Additionally, countries like Australia have issued a complete ban on overseas travel, and any exemptions must be approved by the government. Given that the success of flattening the curve in these countries has far outweighed the efforts (or lack thereof) of American officials, it might be wise to take a page from their book.
Party In The USA, Because You Won’t Be Going Anywhere Else
Yes, 2020 has indeed been a horror show, with the U.S. as its main character. For now, let’s hope that next year gets a whole lot better and we can resume our partying in Mykonos in 2021. On the bright side, where other than America can we see a Karen go postal in a Trader Joe’s because her CoNsTiTuTiOnAL rIGhTs are being violated? Plus, there’s still an election that could go horribly wrong! Seriously, just so much to look forward to this year.
Do everyone a favor and find a friend with a beach or lake house, and just stay the fuck home/in said vacation house and drink margaritas until Florida feels like Florence. Good luck.
Images: Anna Shvets / Pexels
As we’ve seen time and time again, celebrities and influencers don’t really know what to do with themselves right now. Most of them are just losing their minds with boredom in their palatial homes, but some of them just can’t get their sh*t together. Most of us have now been social distancing for well over a month, but certain public figures have still traveled major distances during that time. Some of them have had good reasons, while others have been more questionable, but all I know is that I would not want to get on a plane right now.
For some, it’s a matter of staying on vacation a liiiiiittle too long. I mean, we all remember how Kristin Cavallari and her family were chilling in the Bahamas for nearly a month. And this week, Tom Brady was spotted working out in a closed public park in Tampa—despite the fact that he was in Costa Rica with his family when the CDC started tightening guidelines.
But while those travel decisions are certainly questionable in the current climate, we need to talk about some influencers who have done exactly what we’re not supposed to do right now. Of course, the most-dragged public figure during all of this has probably been Arielle Charnas, who famously left NYC to go to the Hamptons after testing positive for COVID-19. From her attempt to cover up the actual timeline, to her comically bad apology, she’s the worst offender here. But she’s not the only influencer who’s f*cked up in the past month.
On March 28th, Naomi Davis (aka Love Taza), an NYC-based blogger and mother of five with almost half a million Instagram followers, posted this picture of an RV. In the lengthy caption, she explained that her family had left NYC the day before to head “out west so we can have a little more space.” Okay, hmm. She further explained that the family had been “diligent about self-quarantining”, and by choosing an RV, they would be able to cook and sleep there, so they wouldn’t be exposing anyone else.
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***PLEASE LOOK FOR MY UPDATE IN MY COMMENT BELOW.💛*** If you zoom into this photo in front of that big old white thing (which is the top of an RV Camper), you’ll see our family of seven as little dots just a few moments before driving out of New York City yesterday (Friday). My heart is breaking for what is happening in New York where I live and around the world right now. And after two full weeks in the apartment, we made the family decision to drive out west so we can have a little more space (namely some outdoor space for the kids) for a little while. While we’ve been diligent about self-quarantining and social distancing in New York City, we want to make sure we still stay away from others during our trip (even though no one in our family has had any symptoms, you could always be asymptomatic). For this reason, we decided to rent an RV in order to avoid hotels and people and just eat and sleep in the RV on the way. Hopefully a little change of apartment scenery will be just what we need – for everyone’s physical health, for my headspace which is spiraling lately – and for our kids’ own mental health. This situation is serious everywhere and I am sending my love and prayers to you wherever you are. More on my stories. 💛 (and photo from our friends who caught us packing up on the street outside an apartment window and texted us! Thank you so much for this photo, Weinbergs!)
While I totally understand what Davis says in her caption about mental health, the situation we’re dealing with right now is bigger than any one person. Of course her family wanted “a little change of apartment scenery,” and guess what? SO DO I!!! But the thing is, if you’re carrying the virus, no matter how careful you try to be, there’s simply no way to travel across the country without potentially exposing other people. Does the RV not need gas sometimes? Will the family of seven never need to stop for groceries? I get that their intentions are good, but as tough as it is, right now is the time when you just need to stay in your apartment.
Many of the comments on Davis’ post were critical of her family’s decision to leave the city, with people begging her to listen to government advice against traveling. Interestingly enough, the family has yet to return to NYC, but they haven’t been in their RV, either. According to comments on Davis’ post from Easter, it looks like the family is in Utah, and they’re definitely inside someone’s house. Good job, you officially failed at quarantining!
Another influencer who didn’t quite get the point of quarantining is Alissandra Maffucci, aka Inspiralized. On March 30th, just a few days after Naomi Davis left New York City, Maffucci also got sick of being stuck at home in New Jersey. She peaced out to Florida with her husband and two kids, two days after the CDC specifically told people in the tristate area to refrain from nonessential travel. Needless to say, her decision (and her detailed posts about it) sparked backlash, and she ultimately spoke to The New York Post about her family’s decision to head south.
She told the Post that, because her family lives in a high-rise building with “hundreds of people,” they “felt like lives were at risk.” Okay, yes, as someone who is also quarantining in an apartment building in an urban area, I can agree that this is stressful. Maffucci talks about how even things like getting deliveries and taking out the trash are potentially exposing them, and that’s true. But that doesn’t mean leaving is risk-free.
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She continued digging herself deeper, telling the Post that “I think our decision is actually saving lives.” Okay girl, I’m just not buying that, and I’m not the only one. On her posts about her family’s move, the negative comments started pouring in, ultimately causing her to limit comments on some of her posts. Referencing this decision, Maffucci told the Post, “I do not welcome negativity. I got a lot of criticism from people saying I am promoting something that the government is saying don’t do. What I say is that we are all individual adults.” Wow. That’s basically the same line spouted by anti-vaxxers and people attending these social distancing protests, and I can’t wait to see how that works out for them.
But mommy bloggers aren’t the only notable people who have broken quarantine protocols on social media. Late last month, Vanderpump Rules star Lala Kent went on a “quarantine road trip” for her fiancé Randall Emmett’s birthday. Emmett shared lots of pictures of the the RV he rented as a birthday present to himself, saying that he was “gonna drive it out into the wilderness”. I don’t have a complete itinerary of where they went, but he posted from an RV campsite in Malibu, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t fit any definition of “wilderness.” As we saw with Naomi Davis, some people seem to think that renting an RV is the perfect solution to traveling during the pandemic. But like I said before, there’s just no way to drive across the country without making potentially harmful contact with others. You just can’t, and at a time like this, why would you even try?
Unsurprisingly, some of the bigger names in Bachelor Nation have also made some very questionable travel decisions of late. Remember at the beginning of all this, when we couldn’t go an hour without hearing from Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown’s Florida-based Quarantine Crew? That was fun while it lasted (though I’m not sure it ever technically counted as quarantining), but Hannah left a few weeks ago. Matt James shared on his Instagram story that Hannah and her friend Marshall drove home to Tuscaloosa on April 1st, in order to “ride this thing out with their families.” Like I said before, this is an understandable desire, but the timing seems less than ideal.
But other Bachelor stars have made even more questionable decisions. As we’ve discussed, Peter Weber has been with Kelley Flanagan in Chicago since late March. He flew there from California around March 27th. If this had been some sort of emergency, or essential travel, that would be one thing, but considering that Pete was texting another woman two days before, I think he could’ve just stayed with his family in LA. And then, last week, Reality Steve reported that Victoria Fuller had traveled to Iowa to spend the week with Chris Soules. Flying across the country to hang out with a dude?? In this pandemic??? Look, I have guys I DM with that I’d love to see right now too, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to put myself and others at risk!
Obviously, there’s nothing fun about the situation we’re in right now, but things aren’t going to get any better if we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. Of course I’d rather be on the beach right now, but I’m not about to go to Florida and potentially harm a million other people just because. Also, I don’t want to go to Florida because like, Florida, but that’s a whole separate issue. For now, just stay at home, and try to stay as sane as possible.
Images: Sean Zanni / Contributor / Getty Images; taza, inspiralized, randallemmettfilms / Instagram