Your previously-scheduled summer vacation is canceled, so now what?
Last fall, after researching and debating and weighing all the options, my husband and I pulled the trigger on booking our first family Disney vacation for spring break 2020. Well, you know what happened in March. So considering ourselves flexible and adaptable, we rescheduled for May 2020…then, August 2020… now we have rescheduled for well into 2021, but we’ve still got vacation time to use in 2020 and three kids who want to do something, ANYTHING, to break up the summer of staying at home. But, the coronavirus’s realities have many of us cautious about traveling, so what do you do?
Our Disney trip was going to include first-time plane rides for two of our kids, so breaking the news to them that if we were going to go anywhere this summer, we’d be driving, was a letdown. But, if there was ever a year to throw it back to the classic road trip, this is it.
Don’t be intimidated by the thought of spending an entire day on the road with your kids. Preparation is your friend, and snacks, lots of snacks. If you’ve got the flexibility in your schedule to get to wherever you’re going, take your time getting there and map out some fun and quirky stops along the way. But keep in mind that the coronavirus has closed businesses and attractions for months, so some may be permanently closed, or have different operating hours and other limiting precautions, so don’t be too spontaneous or you may be disappointed!
And be smart about bathroom stops — everyone should don their masks before entering the gas station, avoid touching unnecessary surfaces, and keep hand sanitizer and wipes in the car to disinfect immediately (especially before consuming any gas station snacks!). And everyone has to “try” when you finally stop because now is not the time for gratuitous pit stops!
Get Back to Nature
We were looking forward to meeting our favorite Disney characters, watching parades and live-action shows, and training at the Jedi academy, none of which are possible in the world of coronavirus, of course. So, it might be the year to trade amusement parks and museums for hiking, swimming, and exploring the great outdoors.
Here in the STL Metro area, we have so many great options all within a few hours’ driving distance, but for “COVID summer” vacation, think bigger and farther. Browse the National Parks map for inspiration, but keep in mind that there may be COVID-related restrictions, so do your research before you pack the minivan.
This is also the summer where we are all jealous of our friends/family with lake houses. We have many great lake options close to home or consider heading north for some more temperate options in Michigan and Minnesota. Although lake rental demand has skyrocketed this summer, check out Airbnb and VRBO for options at every price point.
How often do we lament that it’s been years since we’ve seen our college buddies or our favorite relatives, but our busy schedules just can’t accommodate? This could be the perfect summer for a visit because our schedules are WIDE OPEN (no more excuses). This option requires clear communications about expectations and a commitment on both sides to self-isolate beforehand but may be well worth the effort.
If you’re not comfortable traveling right now, or finances are a little too tight to justify the extra food/lodging, a thoughtful staycation could do the trick this summer.
Since our kids have been deprived of all the great local attractions that the STL area typically offers, the demand to return to the zoo, Magic House, etc. is bigger than ever. We’ve already ventured out to a few, and the reservation systems and extra precautions have left me feeling comfortable with the experience. But don’t be fooled–this option requires just as much advanced planning as an out-of-town trip, because of occupancy limits, limited hours, and offerings.
Some Ideas to Get You Started
- Pick a section of the historic Route 66 and stop at every quirky attraction along the way
- Spend a week at one of Missouri’s beautiful lakes (Lake of the Ozarks is an obvious choice, but there’s also Tablerock, Lake Taneycomo, and Pomme de Terre)
- Spend a week revisiting some STL favorites (the Arch grounds, City Museum, and Six Flags to name a few) or catch up on some of the newer attractions (the aquarium, Ferris wheel, and much more at Union Station)
- Explore a city within half a day’s drive: Memphis, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Nashville are very family-friendly, but keep in mind that many tourist attractions may not be wise or even open if there are local spikes in coronavirus cases.
Happy and safe travels this summer!