Family Travel

Thinking about travel (asthejoeflies #10)

Note: I sent this as a newsletter a few days ago. I’ll post newsletters that are relevant here from time to time, but please consider signing up for my newsletter and receive all of them when they come out!

Like many of you, I’m missing travel right now. Still, I’m not quite ready to get back on the horse yet. I thought it might be productive to detail some of my feelings on the matter, so here are some of the factors I’m considering.

Evolving risk assessments

As the pandemic has chugged along and as more scientific data comes out, it’s been interesting to document how my risk assessment has evolved. A month ago, I was way more concerned about being outside without a mask than I was about getting on an airplane. From where I sit today, my concern about those two things have flipped (though I do and most of my town does wear masks outside).

It seems less and less likely that the infection can be passed from person to person outside, unless someone straight up spits into your mouth (hey, it could happen!). But since practically my entire town wears masks outside, nobody’s gonna be spitting in my mouth and even if they weren’t wearing masks things would probably be okay.

Aside: Recall from newsletter #8, I’m more concerned with becoming a carrier that passes it on to more vulnerable people than my own personal sickness, although I do know enough people who have gotten sick from this thing now to confidently state that it sounds like if you’re symptomatic it totally sucks.

On the other hand, a month ago I was thinking that flying was a pretty safe place to be. I generally still think planes were pretty safe a month ago: nobody was flying! But now flight loads are picking up and there were some pretty crazy pictures coming out of airports this past Memorial Day weekend. And I’m starting to be less confident in whatever filters planes are using. I thought this newsletter by TProphet really illustrated some of the risks associated with flying right now.

So I’m not sure I’m ready to fly yet, which constricts me to mostly road trips.

Wanderlusting minds think alike

The second thing I’m thinking is that everyone who wants to travel right now probably is thinking of the same places. National parks are probably going to get pretty crowded, I’ve seen news that the Hamptons and Cape Cod are booking up quickly – pretty much if you want to road trip, others who want to road trip are thinking of the same places.

While national parks are probably a great place to go – if they’re overcrowded it might not be ideal. So we’re definitely trying to find a happy medium, looking to rent a house in an area that is nice but won’t be crushed with visitors. We’re also considering bringing all of our groceries in case there’s no grocery delivery or anything like that.

One cool thing I’ve seen some places do, like Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, is take reservations. That helps to limit the number of visitors – I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of popular parks do that.

One more worry

My last worry is less about travel itself but a little more personal. There’s been a lot of judgmental behavior around the whole concept of masks (I won’t get into it here but I’ve made my thoughts clear elsewhere. tl;dr – I wear a mask if a private business or a locality asks me to, I wear a mask indoors unless eating and combine with social distance for maximum effectiveness). However, for me it’s not the judgment around masks that I’m worried about.

About a month ago, stories started emerging of Asian Americans receiving harrassment, both verbal and physical, just…for being Asian. People who look like me are being accused who people that don’t look like me of “creating” the global pandemic. It’s rarely explicit, though sometimes it is. I’ve heard enough stories from friends to say that this is a real thing that’s happening. One buddy texted me and said he was called a ch*nk to his face for the first time in over twenty years.

I live in a city where masks are required, even outdoors, and in a state where masks are highly encouraged outside (and mandated inside for all intents and purposes). So I’m pretty used to wearing a mask going about my everyday life.

What happens if I visit an area where masks aren’t the norm? I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t feel self conscious wearing a mask, as an Asian American, walking around an area where masks aren’t the norm. In a best case scenario, I would just feel uncomfortable and wonder if people are staring at my family and me the entire time. In a worst case scenario…well, I don’t want to think about that. But that’s something that really gives me pause about traveling outside of just holing up in a house and not going out (which is probably for the best pandemic wise anyway).

I’ve been called racial slurs a few times in my life – each time I was just going about my everyday business and people went out of their way to throw it in my face. My wife and I have been told to go back to China many more times than that. I’m not naive: my kids will experience this one day. But I’m not sure I want them to experience with the backdrop of a global pandemic at a time when people are looking for anyone to blame.

This last worry weighs heavily on me as we think about when, where, and if to travel. 

Quick hits

– Wanted to give a quick shout-out and thank you to everyone who participated in the #cuarantinecay5K this past weekend. We received over $600 in donations. Combined with matching from Disney Deciphered and Miles to Memories we raised $2000 total for Give Kids the World. Great stuff.

– Speaking of which, Leslie and I discussed four concerns we have about returning to the Disney parks. We should find out tomorrow when Disney World plans to reopen. Should be interesting.

– Think I mentioned this on a Final Boarding Call of the Observation Deck, but people are on edge right now. We’re all going through something – a little grace goes a long way right now. Or, as Travel Fan Boy would say: be good to each other.

Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

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