As states across the country struggled with in-person commerce restrictions and travel during the pandemic, one destination remained open: Florida.
When we decided six months ago on our next girl’s trip destination, we honestly hoped we would be in a better place in terms of recovery. But then reality hit and we knew choosing the sunshine state would be our best and only option. We wanted something quiet (non-peak season), with gorgeous beaches, warmer temperatures, and within a drivable distance or at least a non-stop flight away. So we packed our duffle bags and headed to Jacksonville Beach.
Between school, work, and other responsibilities, it’s so hard to find time to take a break. But in every woman’s life, regardless of age, there comes a time when you need to escape from your day-to-day and surround yourself with the type of love only your favorite girls can give you.
Remember on Girlfriends when Greg broke up with Toni. Instead of letting her wallow in her own despair, Joan, Lynn, and Maya whisked her away to Jamaica. Except we all know Joan expedited their breakup and tried to cover up her mess, but you get my point. Ha!
A girls’ trip is needed for so many more reasons than to escape a tough experience. Thankfully, we didn’t have to mend any broken hearts this weekend. All of my girls are doing fabulous. We all have successful careers and booming businesses, and everyone is in a really good space right now.
Yes we know Dr. Fauci and his smart friends at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned against traveling, but not only did we do our homework, one of my girlfriends is an M.D. and two of the five have already had the vaccine. So we were confident in our planning to get everyone to and from our destination safely. Here’s how we did it:
We got tested. The CDC released a statement that would require airline passengers to show proof of a negative coronavirus test or recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the U.S., effective Jan. 26. Airlines are required to deny boarding to those who don’t. You can never be too safe even with domestic travel. We all agreed that everyone must have a negative COVID test to stay in the beach house rental.
I went to Walgreens because it’s less than a mile away and offer drive-thru services. You can find more details here. I was not prepared to self-administer the COVID test. Here’s what happened.
Keep it simple. Experts say traveling by car during COVID-19 is likely the safest, so look for direct and door-to-door destinations within driving distance. My drive was about four hours. I choose to travel during non-peak hours while most people were still at work. I packed my snacks to avoid standing in line. For restroom breaks, I prefer to stop at nice hotels and use the lobby restroom. It’s always clean, and I feel safer when I’m traveling alone. FYI, I’m not sure if this is even allowed. Ha! But no one has stopped or questioned me.
But if you have to fly, try to book a non-stop flight because of fewer chances of being exposed to the virus. Also, choose an airline that has measures in place to allow for social distancing (shout out to Delta). Keep in mind when traveling to the airport, the time you spend in an airport during check-in, security checks, boarding, and baggage retrieval may well be riskier than the actual flight itself, so don’t forget about taking precautions on every leg of your travel. Wear a mask when you are close to others. Keep wipes and hand sanitizers on you at all times.
Choose smart lodging. Our goal was to be around as few people as possible. We also wanted a house that was double the size that we needed so that everyone would have their own bedroom, bathroom, and enough space for effective social distancing. Here’s our gorgeous AirBnb beach rental. Our Super Host Jim was helpful and attentive the entire stay. He even followed up after check-out to make sure we were happy with the house.
Get Outside. You will be amazed by how nature can recharge your battery when you allow yourself to slow down. Also the risk of transmission is low when you’re outside. Some of the girls walked along the beach in the morning. Others hung out in the backyard courtyard. I almost lost my edges and possibly my entire face leaning over the fire pit. Eeeek! But Kaleena figured it out.
Our host also had tons of games and activities on the property that made it easier not to want to leave the house.
Plan private experiences. I am a room service snob. Since we opted for a vacation rental over a hotel, we didn’t want to have to worry about cooking the entire time. After all, we’re here to relax with no daily agenda. We hired a private chef to give us a different kind of home-cooked cuisine.
If I had to give you one tip I would suggest having room assignments ahead of time to avoid any confusion. Check out my IG stories to see how we resolved the situation and where we’re going next.