With COVID-19 looming, the idea of a vacation can feel stressful instead of exciting. If you're anything like me you're constantly thinking, "are we making the right decision?"
I spent the last week on a family stay-cation here on the Outer Banks. We love the town of Duck because it’s quaint and clean while being a short walk to the beach and the soundside no matter where you stay! We also love that Duck is filled with small, local businesses that all need our support now even more than ever! With COVID restrictions beginning to lift I know we’re all a little anxious about what the next right step is. When and how do we get back to normal from here?
When my sister in law called and asked if we were ready for visitors I was so excited. She booked a house in Duck and we spent the best and most needed week together. Why am I breaking quarantine and opting for a stay-cation?
First of all, our kids have been in full on quarantine for over 2 months. They haven’t seen friends or family and it was really starting to weigh on them. Mental health matters, too! While we still feel very protective over our kids during this situation, we figured that if our family has been in quarantine and my sister in law’s family has been socially distant, then I think it’s okay to break free and spend some time together while we continue to make smart and educated choices.
A big part of my thinking lately is that tomorrow isn’t promised to ANY of us. I’m a big believer in the fact that when it’s my time to head to Heaven, I’m going to go be it from COVID or an accident or preferably as an old old lady in my sleep.
So, we packed our swim suits, pjs and bikes and headed to Duck. We told the kids that we were just heading to the beach but what we didn’t tell them was that two of their cousins (and best friends) were in town. When they saw their cousins they were so quick to hug each other and it felt so incredibly normal. For that, I am forever grateful. Seeing their faces light up brought back normalcy almost immediately.
But, like any parent, I did and continue to feel some anxiety about staying in a beach house that another family stayed in last week and spending time outside of the safety bubble that we created in our own home.
After my OBX Staycation, I have a few pieces of advice to hopefully ease your mind and keep you safe if you plan to vacation here sometime soon.
I am a self proclaimed germaphobe and even I can admit that when I walked into the beach rental, I was impressed. It was pristine. I could see a difference in the way that this house was cleaned and I was grateful for the extra care that went into it. Fresh, clean linens were provided and bath towels were in sealed packaging. Now, with that being said, I'd still go behind the cleaning crew and re-sanitize some things. Why? Peace of mind. A quick 30 minutes of sanitizing gave me peace for 7 days. Clorox wipes to all knobs, drawer pulls and and banisters, tv remotes wiped clean and even the things like pool sticks! I tossed silverware and the dishes that we would be using into a sanitize cycle in the dishwasher and voila! While this is 100% not necessary, it made me calm down a little bit. If I’m being honest… and my husband can attest to this, I clean hotel rooms before we enter them even when there isn’t a pandemic. So, this really wasn’t a big deal for me! Call me a control freak and I won't argue with you ;) The best part about having a private home is that you have this control. We brought our Lotus travel crib so the newest addition had a clean place to sleep and play.
2. Make a household plan!
One of the days we were out walking around and I noticed a group of 4 women. They were walking around town popping in and out of stores and only one of them was wearing a mask. Now, if 3/4 of your group has absolutely no plans to wear a mask or take recommended precautions but you’re still sharing a house with those people, then what is the point of your mask? I would have open and honest conversations about the expectations that you have with everyone who will be staying in your house before you book your stay.
3. Designate a grocery shopper.
I honestly think that this should be a part of all vacations, not just pandemic vacations. When you grocery shop with several members of your party, it clogs up the grocery store, makes it very difficult for another shopper to move around and pass you and… it honestly costs a whole heck of a lot more money. With social distancing recommendations it is nearly impossible to keep 6 feet away from people when they’re grocery shopping in a pack! I’d suggest appointing one member to do your big grocery shop and coming up with your list the week before your vacation so you can bring some supplies with you.
4. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
If you are uncomfortable with something in a public place, don’t be afraid of using your voice. Several times I felt like I couldn’t keep a social distance when there were people blocking a row in our small grocery store or even walking on the sidewalk in the Town of Duck. It’s so easy to feel anxious or frustrated in these times but speaking up in a kind way makes all the difference. The way that our small town is capable of doing things during these strange times may not be up to your expectations. Please use kindness and patience! We’re all in this together.
5. Pretend you’re at home.
If you go into your grocery store in NYC with a mask, then please continue that thought process and wear one here. If you would use hand sanitizer when you get back in the car after shopping in Raleigh, then use it here too! You’re on vacation and it’s so easy to let your guard down. I’m not saying you have to have an uptight and stressful vacation but keeping precautions in place may be the reason you have a healthy vacation!
This staycation vacation was so good for the soul. My girls were really beginning to struggle with behavior and my mental health was struggling a bit since I’ve been out of work for so long.
Having my nephews here was invaluable for my kids and getting to see our family meet our newest baby girl warmed my heart.
The change of scenery from my house to the rental in Duck made a huge difference for all of us too!
We tie-dyed t-shirts, went for walks, beach-combed, cooked yummy food, played games on the beach, splashed in the pool and we even drank hard seltzer in the hot tub at 1:00am and I'm not going to lie, it was ALL good for the soul! If you're thinking about visiting the Outer Banks with your family, I cannot recommend it enough. Amid a global pandemic, one thing remains the same, family really is the most important thing!