Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

June 26, 2020

Travel in the Time of Coronavirus.

     Travel content has been few and far between on my blog and Instagram since mid-March, because of an elephant in the room that starts with the letter C. I'm sure that a lot of you are in the same boat as me right now- itching for a change of scenery and a summer vacation outside of your city, but also a bit anxious and uncertain about what that could look like while being safe. The CDC guidelines and your state guidelines are an important place to start when it comes to travel plans, but what about day trips? In-state overnight trips at an Airbnb? Further road trips? Potentially flying? 

   I'm sharing thoughts on all things travel today: what trips I've had cancelled, the precautions I took for my Memorial Day Weekend trip, what trips I have coming up, and what I personally feel comfortable doing travel-wise for the rest of the year. 

{I didn't wear a mask most of the time on the beach last month.  As you can see from these photos- I was far away from any strangers! I just wore it walking from the parking lot to the beach when we were around people. But I did put it back on for this photo opp since it matched my bathing suit!}

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     What trips I've had cancelled: 
     Oh, 2020. The year I wasn't supposed to be home very much! It's actually the first year of my adult life that I've had a generous amount of PTO to use, and I was looking forward to that. Figures that's the year we have a pandemic, ha! My spring coronavirus travel losses were international trips with each of my parents (Bermuda with my dad, a rescheduled trip to Spain with my mom), and several East Coast weekend trips (Charlotte, Washington DC, Tampa for a wedding).
    Back in March once my earlier spring travel started getting cancelled, I began making some plans for this summer and the later half of the year, thinking that COVID-19 wouldn't be a huge issue past June. *Spoiler alert* - I was way too optimistic. As of yesterday, I have cancelled a planned July trip home to see my parents in Maine. My back-up plan if that had to happen was to go to Charlotte to see friends... but since they're considered a hotspot for rising cases right now, I won't be headed there anytime soon. 😟 Plan B appears to be cancelled also.
    Marc and I were supposed to be going to a work conference in Chicago in August, which would've been a huge deal as we were the first people from our station to ever attend. It's currently been postponed to later in the fall, but I am fully expecting it to be completely cancelled this year. I also have a birthday weekend trip that requires flying planned in September with a girlfriend of mine... while September is a little early to be making decisions on, at this point I am expecting us to cancel that as well.
    I know that me losing travel plans is so very small in comparison to those that have lost much larger events, like weddings and graduations. And obviously not even comparable in the slightest to those that have lost loved ones to COVID-19, But even with acknowledging that, I will still tell you it's been a huge bummer. And a struggle at times for me to stay positive with trip after trip getting cancelled. I'm sure you feel the same if you've been in a similar boat this year!

     My Memorial Day Weekend trip:
     By the middle of May, I was desperate for a change of scenery. May was the roughest month of this so far for me emotionally and mentally, and having to car shop unexpectedly that month just made everything feel more intense. I knew that I needed a few days away for Memorial Day Weekend, but I wanted to do it as safely as possible, and not take too many unecessary risks.
     I ended up visiting my friend Caroline and her husband in Columbia, SC. Caroline used to live in Charlottesville until this past winter, and I was hoping to visit her this year anyways. Here are the three main reasons why I decided this trip was okay for me to do, and the precautions I took:

  • Separate guest area: Caroline and her husband have a gorgeous townhome, and their guest area is really like its own little suite! I had a separate bedroom and bathroom all to myself, and it was located on a different level of the home then the other bedrooms. Knowing that I wasn't going to be sharing those spaces with anyone made me feel a lot safer (vs. when I have had girlfriends stay at my apartment, they usually stay in my bed with me since I don't have a guest room!). 
  • Working from home: Both of them were working from home, which also made me feel better about visiting. 
  • Discussing safety expectations: Before coming, I was able to be really honest with Caroline about the types of activities that I was and wasn't comfortable with during COVID-19. Having that conversation showed me we were really on the same page about everything, which was great. Everyone is comfortable with different things right now, but I wanted to make sure after arriving I wouldn't be in any situations that felt unsafe with germs/crowds/etc.
  • Case numbers: At the time- I felt comfortable traveling to Columbia with the case numbers and hospitalization rates they had. (Since then they've had a big rise, I'm not sure I still would've gone if the trip was now!)
     So what was the trip actually like? 
  • Meals: South Carolina had re-opened for indoor and outdoor dining when I visited, but I wasn't comfortable yet with indoor (and I'm still not as of now in late-June!). We got drinks after I arrived at a gorgeous outdoor patio bar, and then grabbed ice cream later in the day. Everything else we did was takeout that we could bring back and eat at Caroline's house.
  • Activities: All things outdoors! We did a ton of walking around Downtown Columbia and the Five Points area, and saw as much as we could. My second day there, we did a day trip to the beach to Isle of Palms, which is where these photos were taken! I wore my mask going from the parking lot to the beach since there were a lot of people, but once on the beach I was so glad to see all family and friend groups were social distancing from strangers, and there was plenty of space between everyone. We did try to stop in Charleston on our way back, but there was not any social distancing or mask wearing happening there, so we didn't stay long. Safety first! 
     This trip was much needed and I seriously felt like a new woman coming back to Charlottesville after a few days away. (I'm still planning to do a Columbia Travel Diary soon!) If you're considering doing any travel to visit someone in driving distance this summer, I definitely recommend analyzing some of the same things I did prior to this trip (sleeping arrangements, activities, dining, etc). 

    What trips I have coming up: 
     I have two weekend trips coming in July that I'm very excited about. Obviously they're both very different from the types of travel experiences I thought I'd be having this year, but I'm still so grateful for a chance to get away nonetheless. They are both in places that are easily a few hours drivable to Charlottesville (and short enough to do without a rest stop), in counties that have had very few COVID-19 cases, and in private AirBnbs instead of hotels (I can't quite fathom being in a hotel lobby or shared elevator just yet). 
     Next year or the year after once we're able to travel more freely again, I anticipate that I'll want to make up for lost time and be as far away from Virginia on my vacations as possible. During this time when it's safer to stay closer to home, I'm grateful for the chance to explore more of the mid-Atlantic region! 

    Travel for the rest of 2020:
      One word: uncertain. It seems really risky right now to make plans that are more than a few weeks out, as things can change so quickly. I honestly don't know how I feel about flying for the rest of the year. Just yesterday I cancelled a trip home to Maine that would've required a flight. Ideally I'd like to reschedule that for August or September... but I just don't know. I haven't rebooked a flight yet. (Plus Maine has a slew of restrictions for out-of-state visitors right now which are deterring me, but that's a side topic.) I'm also really worried about a second wave of COVID-19 that'll be worse then what we've seen so far. A big part of me feels like I'll be spending this Thanksgiving and Christmas in my apartment with my roommate and Delilah, instead of us going home to our families, and that few people will be traveling at the holidays this year. (I really hope I'm wrong!)
     Travel is a huge passion of mine, and I don't want to let that die completely in this weird year. I'm hoping to keep pursuing short and safer weekend trips through the rest of the year, like the two I have coming in July. Some girlfriends and I have already been talking about how fun it would be to rent a mountain house for a weekend in the fall once there is foliage. I think this time could be a unique opportunity to play tourist in your own state. Are there cities and towns that you've never been to before and wouldn't normally go out of your way to visit? Make that happen this summer. (One area that I highly recommend for those in Virginia is the Alleghany Highlands.) 

     I am so curious to hear your thoughts on travel in this weird, weird time! Please leave me a comment and let me know what you're thinking and feeling. I'm also curious if you've heard about this proposed second stimulus bill that will be travel focused? I definitely need to research it more- but it sounds super intriguing. 

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese 



  1. I really feel you on this! It seems like first world problems to lament travel plans but it really is a loss. I don't know about you, but I spend so much time researching and planning and reading up on my destination, that I'm not just mourning the travel itself, if that makes sense. Plus planning for the travel/ future travel gives me life, and I feel like completely devoid of joy bc of things being so uncertain.

    Its funny how local travel (for me its south jersey or the poconos) really thought they'd take a loss but so many people who usually travel further, like me, are finding nothing available for close trips.

    Hope your local trips with friends work out.

    1. Yes- agreed 100%! Thanks so much, I hope they do too!

  2. Yes we can all agree that not being able to travel and visit family isn't "comparable . . .to those that have lost loved ones to COVID-19" But I too agree it HAS been "a huge bummer"
    Travel is something I enjoy and it while it doesn't give my purpose in life I certainly look forward to it and having something positive to look forward to is good for my mental health -especially- during these stressful times.

    It was a lot of deliberation, typically we book 3 or 4 months in advance but this was about 4 weeks, but my mom and I are flying to Az(Sedona). The airline we are fling on (I don't know if I am allowed to say the name) isn't seating it's middle seat and the resort we are staying is small. We don't go to any restaurants in town we just pretty much stay at the resort. The "why" bz life is so fleeting. I feel taking a calculated risk is right for me and my mom chose to do that too.

    1. Wishing you a safe and wonderful trip, Nessa! The key right now is just to carefully consider the safety of all parts of a trip and it sounds like you both definitely did that!

  3. Thank you for sharing, Annaliese! We had to cancel our trip as well and we were definitely looking forward to it! Like you, we've had to come up with a Plan C that would allow us to still be able to safely enjoy summer for a smaller amount of time w/ no flying!

  4. Thank you Annalise, we are now thinking of canceling our trip, ....the cases in Az are things change in less than two weeks.....


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