How not to spend a COVID outbreak: Traveling with your family

Throughout the summer various warnings were given about traveling, many of us ignored them despite the risks


AP Newsroom

Airports are busy and chaotic, and while it is possible to social distance in some instances, its impossible to do so the entire time

Confession: I traveled over the summer. It wasn’t very far, or for very long, but I visited friends in Delaware and met family at Starved Rock State Park. I’m not proud of it, and I wish my family had been more COVID-conscious. But it’s because of these misadventures that I can say with finality that traveling during COVID isn’t worth it. 

To avoid crowded airports my family decided to take a 14-hour road trip to Delaware. This, in and of itself, was horrible. Of course, a 28-hour round trip in a car with two infant siblings would get on anyone’s nerves. But on top of that we also stopped numerous times at dubiously cleaned rest stops and stayed the night at a hotel between 7-hour driving shifts. Even though we went by car rather than plane, I still found myself in too many crowded places; including restaurants, gas stations, bathrooms, and more. Was four days on the beach worth it? Maybe for some. I, personally, have this warning: Tans with mask lines aren’t attractive. 

There’s no traveling option that’s entirely risk free, just various options with different levels of risk. Going by plane to stay in a hotel is probably the worst thing you can do because of the crowded airport and the number of people who may or may not be sick in a hotel. But, even just driving to stay in your lake house involves stopping at rest stops and going out to eat, buy groceries, and do other things. There’s no escaping the risk of spread. 

And even if you ignore the health dangers, it’s still not worth the expense and stress of traveling. In most areas public attractions like theme parks, pools, museums are closed. A lot of restaurants, stores, and even some outdoor attractions are working at a limited capacity. Going on vacation to a town where most everything is closed or limited makes for a boring trip. That’s definitely not worth you or your family getting sick. 

Our trip to Starved Rock held much less risk. We drove, only stopping once, met extended family, stayed in cabins and didn’t go anywhere other than the hiking trails. Yet, we were still affected. Our group of 20 couldn’t hang out anywhere else except in one cabin made for 6 people. At some point the water and electricity went out. It came back on within the hour, but it was scary to realize that  we had nowhere else to go that could possibly take all of us.

Of course, there are always some pluses to traveling; trying new foods, sightseeing, or simply getting out of the house can be refreshing. But these are all things you can experience without leaving the Chicagoland area. Take the time to learn a new recipe, or order from a different take out place. Check out the Field Museum or the Shedd Aquarium, where you can ‘sightsee’ in a space with health-protective measures. Spend an afternoon at the library, a park, or just a random bench. We might not be able to travel anywhere, but at least we can find some semblance of routine-breaking activity to not only get us off the couch but also to break the mental cycle that comes with being home all day, every day.

Stay home, stay safe.