For more than a year, we’ve been wondering when we could start traveling again. You may already have raised eyebrows if you follow LlywindaTravels, and have roved around the US with us month after month. During the height of the pandemic we moved from Chicago to Ohio, then across the country to Oregon and down the coast to our present home in Pacific Grove, CA. What I mean when I say “travel,” is deciding when it’s safe to return to Peru, or to return to Europe, where we abruptly cancelled our travel plans in 2020.
Peru dropped from our 2021 plans back in September, when the infection rate soared. Since then, the virus has abated somewhat, but very few people have been vaccinated as of March 2021. The death rate in April 2021 is the highest it’s been since the start of the pandemic. We check in with our neighbors via Facebook and Skype. Fortunately, the few who have gotten the virus have all recovered. We will return to Peru in the fall.
These days we wonder what will be different about travel when we can get back to it. We’ve followed the news, infection rates, and countries that allow US citizens to visit. It’s all still a guessing game.
Europe and the UK are open to US visitors. We originally planned to resume our 2020 itinerary right away, had the pandemic ended after only a few months, but you know how that went! When I looked in to what would be different about going to Europe in 2021, I didn’t much like what I saw. Even the most welcoming of countries now requires proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours prior to travel. Upon arrival, many countries have mandatory quarantine, and they really mean quarantine. Sometimes, a fee of up to $2600 per person is part of the process. This seemed like too much time in quarantine, and unnecessary expense. For us, Europe is on the shelf until 2022.
Spending some time in Maine has always been part of our plans, and this could be the year. We’re in California now, and we would have to drive across the entirely of the US to get there. Back in January, we thought that we might go east across Canada, then visiting Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Maine. a combination that would make the cross-country trek worthwhile. Now, we’re almost to May 1, and Canada still has no plans of opening to Americans. Maybe another year.
We looked at spending a month on a Caribbean island, perhaps during September. That seemed possible until we realized that late summer and early fall is the height of hurricane season. Climate change has increased the number and violence of hurricanes, making September poor timing for a visit. A few years ago, we spent a day sitting in the tiny Marsh Harbor airport in the Bahamas waiting for a break in the weather. When our flight was finally not just late, but cancelled, we scrambled to stay another night and managed to leave the next day, but I’d rather not do that again.
That leaves us with the US, home sweet home. Our move east to west was a lot of fun; full of interesting places, and reversing our path we could check out a different part of the country. Having arrived on the west coast via a northern route, we thought about going east on a southern route, perhaps visiting Big Bend National Park, the Natchez Trace, and many other places. Oops. It’s August, and approximately 90o F. and 90% humidity almost everywhere in the south, almost all the time. If you recall how little we liked the weather in Charleston, SC in August (loved the people we met, not the weather), this doesn’t seem like a good choice.
Even closer to where we are now, we thought that we’d like to spend another month in Mendocino, where we began our world travels in 2015. Times have changed indeed, and we were unable to find a house to rent in the area. After trying to find a place to rent over the course of more than two weeks, Jonathan found a very nice house, but it was not available in August. There was nothing else available that met our criteria for an Airbnb, and revisiting the app a few times over an additional week didn’t show any more properties becoming available.
Back at our starting point in Pacific Grove, we took yet another look at the west coast, and Jonathan suggested we try Bainbridge Island, across from Seattle…..if he could find a place to rent. After a couple of rounds of looking, he found a house that is great for us, and we’ve taken the plunge. We’ll be moving to Bainbridge Island, WA for the month of August. We plan to take the ferry across to Seattle and visit the Pike Place Market some time during our stay.
The New Normal?
We are delighted to have a new place on an island (!) for the month of August, yet I’m still somewhat concerned at the scarcity of rental properties. Two years ago, a month or six weeks was far enough in advance to find a month long rental property almost anywhere. Now, it’s not always that easy.
Our introduction to the new world of travel: keep a long list of alternative destinations.
Next: Don’t buy airline tickets until you have a place to stay.
And thirdly: Check on the availability and price of rental cars before you finalize your plans. Rental car companies sold off many of their vehicles during the pandemic and in some places cars are in short supply. This has pushed the price of car rentals way up in certain situations. Can you afford $4,000 for a ten-day rental?
These issues don’t occur in every locality, and I hope they don’t get in the way of any travel plans you have for the coming months. We all have to be ready for some new hurdles and expensive surprises in the travel arena. We’ve decided to stick to the US until at least October, spend the winter in Peru, and take up in 2022 the travels that we planned for 2020, starting in Greece, then on to Vienna, England, and then Croatia. Perhaps by then we’ll understand the new reality better.
PS: When I say “there are no rentals available,” I mean there are no places available that meet our very specific criteria. We want a whole house, not an apartment or condo. We like two bedrooms and one and a half baths minimum, so that we have room for guests, and space for me to spread out my beach glass jewelry materials. A decent kitchen is a must for Jonathan. After all, we eat at home more than 95% of the time. We must have a washing machine (preferably not shared), and off street parking. This may sound too picky, but remember that we are not on vacation, planning to bundle our laundry into suitcases to wash when we’re home again. We ARE home, and have to keep up with the tasks that vacationers often avoid. Again, when I say there are no rentals available, I mean there are no rentals that we would want for an extended stay.