After two months of trying to telework and care for a toddler, I’d had enough. The parks were closed. The libraries were closed. We weren’t supposed to visit nearby friends and family. The lockdown made our small house feel even smaller. So I made plans to get the heck outta Dodge. I needed a way for us to get away from it all.
Before packing up, there were some things I had to take into consideration. After all, vacationing during a pandemic requires a certain strategy and extra precautions.
Deciding Where to Go
I am a native Floridian. With the adoption of our son, we haven’t seen my parents in well over 3 years. Florida was an obvious choice. But that wasn’t the only reason why we picked Florida. It was one of the earlier states opening up, but when we were looking into things it wasn’t fully open. We were also considering rural Maryland and western Virginia, places where we’ve vacationed prior to adopting our son. However, I didn’t want to pass up a chance to see my mom.
As soon as the idea was in my head, I checked with the State of Florida website and the Florida Tourism board. This then led me to the state’s site on COVID-19 and the various restrictions in place. At the time I was searching, there were restrictions on short term vacation rentals, such as VRBO and Airbnb. This meant renting a place for less than a month were not allowed. So I looked for month-long vacation rentals. By the time we hit the road the state eased up vacation rental restrictions county by county.
Since our main goal was to see family and work remotely, we were not paying too much attention to Gulf and ocean beaches and major attractions. However, I did check county websites for playground and local recreation information. Our host told us about a local beach for one of the many lakes in the area with a public playground. This meant a lot to us since pools and playgrounds in DC were closed.
Dealing With Work Obligations
The beauty of teleworking is that you can do it from anywhere with the internet. Since we knew we wouldn’t be returning to our places of work in at least the next several months, we could be anywhere. Our son’s daycare was closed, thus we weren’t tied to our house. So we could go anywhere.
I started looking at various long-stay hotels and vacation rentals with free and reliable WiFi. We specifically needed WiFi that could support two working adults and a toddler watching streaming videos. High-speed internet is not available everywhere. Rural areas can be an internet dead zone. Sometimes it is a mystery if your cell phone carrier has a robust signal where you’re going. It doesn’t hurt to ask when booking, about the strength of the WiFi and cellular service.
Besides WiFi, we needed a space where we could work. I looked at photographs of rentals to find chairs and desks that we could turn into workspaces. I checked for places that were rated as good for business travelers.
Respecting Family Boundaries During Quarantine
A few of our neighbors with young kids had already left to head to live with their parents or stay at family cabins or elsewhere early into the lockdown. The limitations of what we could do in the city made a month-long retreat look like a really good idea. However, it’s not the right decision for everyone and I respect that.
I also had to respect the various boundaries and interpretations of peoples and places regarding COVID-19. We chose to drive from DC to Florida. This meant driving through Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. We were aware of their rules and what was open and where masks were required. I checked with friends and family at our destination and confirmed our respect for their need to keep a greater distance than normal.
Once we got where we were going, we picked up on how the locals were practicing social distancing and mask-wearing. We were in a non-touristy rural area where we could go days without seeing another human, so this wasn’t much of a problem. The local recreational areas were sparsely populated, and for most of the time, we were the only ones at the lake or on the playground. When we did go into town to pick up supplies, we had our masks at hand.
If your workplace is still at a stage or phase where you are still teleworking, consider if a change of scenery is right for your family. The few weeks we’ve been away has been a blessing for us and a chance to burn off some serious toddler energy.