As most of you know if you follow me on Instagram, my family traveled for the holidays this year amidst the COVID19 global pandemic. We did not take the decision to leave our home (and fly) to another state lightly. Tons of variables were involved in the decision. In the end, we (along with everyone we were flying to go see) decided we would rather spend the time together than sit at home because of the ‘what-ifs’.
This post isn’t to try to sway you one way or the other. Luckily we all still have the freedom to travel and I do not take that lightly and neither should you. Please be responsible in your decision and your actions when it comes to traveling during a pandemic.
Traveling During a Pandemic
Let me start by saying we 100% would have driven to the destinations if we did not have small children. Callen was only two months old and needed to be fed every three hours and Miller is 2 & HATES being in her carseat. We can usually get about 30-40 minutes from her before she starts letting us know how she feels about it. With two small kids we would have had to make multiple restroom and food breaks and we would have had to stay at a hotel along the way. Flying was the only thing that made sense.
When you are traveling to see someone during a pandemic you definitely want to make sure all parties involved are OK with it. We had to make sure Troy’s family and my family all wanted us to come regardless of the implications. Most of us all go by the ‘live today like it is your last’ motto, so we wanted to do just that and spend as much time together as possible, especially during the holiday season.
You can’t think selfishly during a pandemic. Your actions affect others. Because of this, Troy and I took every precaution for two weeks leading up to our travel date.
-We did not see any friends.
-We did delivery for all groceries.
We basically just didn’t leave the house for two weeks.
-Three days before our trip, Troy and I both took at-home COVID19 tests. You can see the tests on my Instagram stories in case you are curious to get one yourself!
I highly recommend testing before you fly anywhere, to see or do ANYTHING. Yes, many states and countries don’t require it, but again, you cannot be selfish during this pandemic. Testing before you travel will help keep those around you safe.
We used ADL Health (not sponsored) for the at-home kits. They shipped them to us within a day, we did the test as soon as they came in and then dropped them off at UPS. The kit comes with everything you need including the kits and a pre-labeled pouch for you to place the kits back into for drop off. The lab gets the kits within 24 hours and processes the kits right away. The entire thing takes about 72 hours! They send you an email with your test results right away! The swab itself is about an inch long, so it isn’t the most comfortable thing to put in your nose. Troy and I both had to sneeze halfway through it. But, it definitely didn’t hurt!
Right now they are offering the kit for only $119 WHEN YOU USE THIS LINK! If the $119 doesn’t automatically populate at checkout, use coupon code MillerAffect50! This includes the to and from shipping, the kits, and the lab work.
*I do not earn any income from the sales for these at home kits nor am I privvy to any of your personal information. This testing center gave me the discount code in case I had a good experience with them and wanted to share with you*
Testing can ensure you aren’t spreading COVID at an airport, but unfortunately they cannot keep you from contracting it at the airport.
Denver International Airport- We saw little TO NO precautions taken at DIA. Which is so surprising since the entire state was in the middle of a huge shut down (no indoor dining and no gatherings with more than your own household.) The airport on 12/23 was a madhouse. People were everywhere and there was NO social distancing. We flew southwest and people were back to back in line waiting to check their luggage and none of the computer terminals were being wiped down after use. It was just insane.
Then you walked to TSA and they did actually have stickers on the floor where people should stand but no one was adhering to it (we were one of the few!) TSA runs through the same processes as always, so they have not changed anything there to help with the spread of the virus. I feel like they could have at least let us keep our baby and toddler in their strollers, but nope. None of the trays were being wiped down or anything. Just business as usual.
After TSA you are herded like cattle into the amtrak to get to the gate. Unfortunately you cannot get to a gate at DIA without getting in the shuttle. It was completely packed each time and NO ONE was able to social distance while inside. If we would have waited for the next shuttle, that one would have been just as packed as well.
Troy and I wore our masks the entire time and did our best to sanitize, keep everyone at a safe distance, etc, but it was still very unsettling.
Omaha Airport– This airport is rather small so we didn’t have a problem social distancing.
Dallas Love Field- Also a smaller airport, and it definitely felt the cleanest and safest. TSA was rather strict about social distancing in line and the agents had a big plastic barrier to separate themselves from us.
So it will basically depend on the airport you are flying out of. If you are leaving from a smaller airport where you can walk to each gate without having to get on a shuttle you will definitely have an easier time social distancing. It will also depend on the day you fly out. If you are flying out on a weekend or holiday, there will obviously be many more people at the airport. Try to book something during the week, and not on a holiday weekend if you can!
Southwest used to have middle seats open, but I am pretty sure that is because they weren’t booking very many tickets. Once the holidays came around and they realized they could sell out all of their flights they eliminated the ‘no one in the middle seat’ rule. All three of our Southwest flights were completely packed. I think Delta is the only airline currently offering open middle seats *until Mar 30, 2021.
We kept Callen in his Doona carseat in the window seat (I highly suggest investing in a carseat cover if you don’t already have one), I was in the middle seat, Miller was in the aisle, and Troy was across from us. We wiped everything down before we sat (wipe down the tray and handle REALLLLY well since your toddler will naturally be all over it!) I also recommend grabbing the bags and reading material from the back of the seat and keeping it somewhere out of your child’s reach. Those probably haven’t been wiped down very well.
You can take your mask off while snacking or drinking. They pass water around all at the same time on the plane which basically means everyone’s mask will be down at the same time. I recommend waiting 15 min or so AFTER you get your water to pull down your mask to drink it. This allows everyone else to finish with their water and pull their mask back up before you are pulling yours down. Same goes for snacking. Unfortunately a person in your row or right in front of you could be snacking the entire plane ride. It is just another risk you take while flying.
They never once asked how old Miller was or asked her to put her mask on. I have heard both Southwest and Delta are pretty lax about it with toddlers. You just never know if you will be on a flight where the captain will be strict about enforcing it. You know before you go that the rule for most airplanes is that *children 2 and older must wear a mask at all times. We practiced mask-wearing with Miller for a month leading up to the flight just in case.
If you have questions about how to keep a 1 year old busy on a plane, refer to THIS POST. Be on the lookout for a new post soon about tips for keeping a 2 year old occupied.
Different States, Different Rules
It was weird going from a state in lockdown to a state with 100% capacity everywhere (Omaha) and 75% capacity (Dallas). Despite this, during our stay in both Omaha and in Texas we decided not to leave the house or visit with any of our friends. It really sucked to be so close to our friends and not being able to see them or hug them, but hopefully the time will come soon where we can all be together again!
My dad and I did go to the grocery store one day together for diapers and some other things for Miller and it was really weird to see people walking around WITHOUT A MASK ON! In Texas it just isn’t enforced everywhere.
That is definitely something to research and consider as well before traveling. Research the mask-wearing, occupancy, and gathering rules for the place you are wanting to visit BEFORE you book. Make sure you are completely comfortable with what they are enforcing/not enforcing before you go.
Like I said previously, luckily the freedom of travel is still available to us. Just please be smart and vigilant while traveling. Remember to not only protect yourself, but also others around you! It is important that we all continue to wear our masks, wash our hands often, and practice social distancing while at the airport and on the plane so that this freedom is not taken from us.
If you have any other questions about traveling during a pandemic, please ask them below.
*I realize some people are upset that we decided to travel. I respect your opinion and definitely see where you are coming from as well. We did everything we could to protect our families and everyone that we would be in contact with. This is a highly sensitive subject, I know. This post is to just inform people what they may experience while traveling so that they can make an educated decision before deciding to fly.