Travel In The Time Of Covid-19
I type this post from a suburb of Nashville, TN.
Shane and I made the choice to fly here for the week, to surprise his mom for Mother's Day and help her settle into her new home. After over 30 years on the Gulf of Mexico in Panama City Beach, FL, she picked up her entire life and moved 500 miles north, to live closer to extended family, and to have a fresh start after the death of her husband, Terry, last summer.
We felt the urge to go to Nashville all through March when they (Shane's mom and sister) first made the move. We knew that after an exhausting move, they needed help shuffling boxes, unpacking, and arranging. Shane is working from home and I'm mostly unemployed until later in May so schedule-wise it fit perfectly.
Of course, our biggest concern was avoiding the potential spread of Coronavirus in all that travel. We haven't taken antibody tests but Shane's last COVID test was negative, and I haven't had symptoms. We have been diligent with masks, gloves, sanitizer, and social distancing, but we knew we would need to take extensive precaution.
Domestic flights within the US are still running, with restrictions in some cities/states. We booked through Southwest for about half the usual price, only a week or so in advance, and we flew out of Burbank airport which was incredibly convenient (it's about 10 minutes from our place compared to LAX which can take literal hours in traffic). The already tame airport was hauntingly quiet-- it might have been unsettling but we were relieved it wasn't more crowded. We took two planes--both half full or less. They enforced a 'no middle seat' rule and saved the first three rows for cabin crew. No drinks or snacks were served in the interest of safety on both flights, and the Southwest team was as kind and prepared as ever. We double sanitized our seats with a little carry-on bottle and kept our gloves and masks on throughout the day. As we made our way further inland and south (we laid over in Denver), we saw fewer people wearing masks... a testament to the varied degrees of caution in different states.
From the airport we rented a car. We arrived at the new family home around 9pm, with time to completely jump out of our travel clothes, scrub down in the shower, and sanitize EVERYTHING... from our suitcases to the bottoms of our shoes. Shane's sister orchestrated the Mother's Day surprise, keeping us apprised of their location as they drove back from visiting their niece's family on the other side of town. We walked into her field of view with a bouquet of tulips and two giant smiles. We watched the not-quite-immediate recognition in her face before the shock truly registered. It was beautiful.
Happy Mother's Day. :) We promise to stay safe.