It’s not too late to take a COVID-19 safe vacation

Here’s how: Planning and compromise the key

We’re past Labor Day and you didn’t take a summer vacation. Maybe it’s because it seemed too scary or difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There’s still time. I managed to take myself to the Outer Banks this summer for a socially distanced escape. Here’s how I pulled it off.

Research

Clearly, I did not want to go somewhere crowded where social distancing was impossible, but I did want to go to the Outer Banks. Those very popular, crowded Outer Banks. Luckily, I learned there are some tiny towns at the very bottom of the Outer Banks. Those tiny towns hold the least busy beaches in the OBX.

There were a few more people here than shown, but there still was plenty of space. KIM MARGOLIS/STAFF
There were a few more people here than shown, but there still was plenty of space. KIM MARGOLIS/STAFF

I didn’t want to stay at a hotel. I feared crowds of mask-less people bumping into me at check-in and leaving their germs behind on the TV remote control. So I searched AirBNB for a place to stay in the tiny town. I found a lovely, clean place above the garage of the owner’s main house.

Close enough to them if I needed something; far enough away to avoid contact. I did run into them and from six-feet away they offered me some great advice for sight-seeing. We also communicated a lot by text message.

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Road trip

The journey proved to require the most adjustments. I’m a road warrior who will not stop until I’ve either traveled a certain amount of miles or must use the restroom RIGHT NOW. I was on the verge of the latter when I pulled into McDonald’s for my traditional road trip bathroom break and coffee.

What was I thinking? The building wasn’t open. So I had to quickly find a gas station for my break. It was not very clean. Then I had to go back to the McDonald’s drive-thru for coffee. Learn from me: State rest areas were open throughout the journey. I should have used them for restroom breaks.

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Almost there! KIM MARGOLIS/STAFF
Almost there! KIM MARGOLIS/STAFF

The vacation itself

The destination selection was perfect. There were three great beaches close to where I stayed. People were mostly NOT wearing masks, but we all were spread out very far from each other. One group sat down very close to me and I simply had to get up and move away. Prepare to do things like that. Lifeguards, restaurant employees cannot manage that for you.

Also, take preventative measures. I was a little frustrated when I went on a ferry to an island and people were standing in line very close to me. I casually got out of line and took my place at the very end. People weren’t being inconsiderate. They were managing their children or they just forgot.

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Staying socially-distant in lines was challenging, but not impossible. KIM MARGOLIS/STAFF
Staying socially-distant in lines was challenging, but not impossible. KIM MARGOLIS/STAFF

Food

I am so glad I brought a lot of food from the grocery to my vacation rental. Eating out isn’t particularly safe right now, and it also wasn’t convenient. Minimal seating means long waits. Leave your name with a hostess long before you’re hungry. Don’t count on hanging out at the bar; they’re full too. Come up with creative ideas. I wanted to sit on a patio but there were no tables available. There were large wooden chairs with small, attached tables. I asked if I could eat there and was happily accommodated.