Decoding COVID-19 vacays

To stay or to go? That is the wintertime travel question in this COVID year. Should we or could we travel this year? And if so, where?

After this intense, oftentimes surreal year, it’s no wonder many of us are longing to get away from the reality of it all. Linda Graham, MFT and author, says we all need to experience the refuge and restoration of a break or pause.

And Marika Chandler, director of Outward Bound Canada, notes that “getting away” is a time of making new memories, immersing in a different kind of present than our usual day-to-day, and deepening connections with each other and the natural world.

Whether by vacay or staycay, getting away—here, near, or far—can nourish our well-being by

  • providing time and space to reflect
  • broadening our perspectives
  • engaging different interests
  • moving our bodies in different ways
  • taking some much-needed respite

Cautious vacationing

First things first: check for any COVID travel restrictions that may be in place before you head out. Always follow your local recommendations and rules.

How can people minimize their risk of COVID infection when deciding on an outdoor getaway? “From the beginning,” says Chandler, “spending time outdoors was identified as a lower risk activity.” But, to avoid unanticipated surprises, she recommends taking time to review the details before heading out.

Avoid the 3 Cs

The three Cs we need to avoid or minimize during COVID:

  1. confined spaces with poor ventilation
  2. close contact
  3. crowded spaces

Take time to consider the small but important details—before heading out—that are less easy to control:

  • shared surfaces
  • food prep
  • disinfecting shared equipment
  • sleeping arrangements

Questions to consider

“Key to getting away in 2020 is making sure you’re up to date on the status of the area you’re traveling to,” says Chandler. Assuming the destination you’re considering is open to visitors, here are a few other questions to consider:

  • Is the local health care system overtaxed?
  • Are you adding to any strain on the local or regional system?
  • How are you impacting residents by taking your trip?

Staying in

Whatever the factors that make it feel safer to stay close to home, we can find the replenishment we need with a staycation. A staycation is not selfish or indulgent or a needless luxury. During this time of uncertainty, it’s genuine self-care that revitalizes you so you can return to dealing with the hard stuff day after day with new energy and a new sense of meaning and purpose.

Take time to savor small delights

Staycating allows us time to enjoy the small stuff, says Graham. And those small moments and micro-pleasures that often go unnoticed in the busyness of our days can play a crucial role in restoring our well-being. Take time to notice and savor; don’t let the moment simply pass by.

Graham suggests making your holiday-at-home rich with prescheduled catch-ups; conversations; dinners; and trivia, card, and board games via video hosting.