Planning and Preparation for the first trip post quarantine

July 2020

Planning and Preparation for the first trip post quarantine

After four canceled trips, countless missed opportunities, and 17 weeks in quarantine, it was about time to break out and put one of the rough draft creations to use. Evaluating destinations was tricky – international travel was off limits as the US cases continue to climb, and that meant many spots in the US were off limits as well. NJ/NY restricted travel to 16 states and the list is growing. We needed somewhere with a low COVID case count, many outdoor activities, and not going to cost a fortune.

Drum roll… Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine!

Travel logistics have change dramatically since our last trip in January to Chamonix, France. Each state has a website dedicated to COVID measures so it is very important to check each destination for their travel rules. Maine has the “Keep Maine Healthy” initiative which requires travelers to complete a declaration and have a COVID test within 72 hrs of arrival showing a negative result if not opting for the two week quarantine period. Since we were arriving Thursday, we got tested on Monday (through Project Baseline). Our results were back on Wednesday.

But things are changing almost daily so it is critical to know where to find the information you need and check it frequently. When I went to print the declaration form before the trip, I found this new bit of information:

  • “Maine has three options for visitors from other states: 1) getting a recent negative COVID-19 test;  2) maintaining compliance with a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Maine; 3) being exempted if you are from the following states with a similar or better COVID-19 experience than Maine. Those states are: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey (effective July 3) and New Hampshire and Vermont (effective June 26).”

So first we needed the test, we got the test, and now we do not need the test. Honestly, I am still glad we got tested in case there were issues as Maine is making it the lodging establishments and rental properties’ responsibility to screen the visitors and keep paperwork. When we booked our Airbnb, the host responded immediately asking what our capabilities to get tested were and to cancel the booking if we were unable to meet the “Keep Main Healthy” guidelines.

Bottom line, for the unforeseeable future, check the state or country website frequently describing their covid plan and FAQ for travelers to understand what you need to do to comply with travel regulations and have a successful trip.

So now that we were able to enter the state of Maine, it is time to discuss logistics.

How to get there

Even at a nine hour drive, driving made more sense. We could find a cheap flight to Boston but then we would still have to rent a car and drive around five hours. Or we could find a crazy expensive flight to Portland, Bangor or even Bar Harbor itself but we still have to rent a car and drive around three hours. Either way, we still needed to drive so it was just easier to do it ourselves. Personally, I am not nervous to fly and am still looking forward to when we can get on a plane again so that was not a factor – it was really the time and money piece. This way we are in the comfort of our own car, can take our time, and pack as much as we need.

Where to stay

I would have love nothing more than to join the movement to camping but 1) campsites are closed in Acadia 2) no RVs to rent. The attraction of the RV is that you can control everything about your space, similar to your home, during quarantine. Hotels were the last options on my list, though if we did have to stay in a hotel I would have refused room service for the entire length of stay – I’ll make my own bed, thanks! With hotels, there are most certainly going to be other guests and you can’t control what they do to help protect yourself. I hopped onto the Airbnb market and stunned to find there were very few options left… I guess everyone else is traveling to Acadia too (smack my head). I originally wanted an “entire place” to avoid other people but I was able to find this Airbnb that has a suite in the basement with a separate private entrance from the outside so it was just as good as having our own place (hopefully). We are considering packing sheets, pillows, and towels… is it over kill?

Packing

Packing was far from normal for us. I take great pride in our ability to travel extremely light, efficiently, purposeful, and compact. Clothing remained the same as our normal travel – it is the new COVID accessories that added to our packing list. Driving also did not help because it opened us up to an endless list of “what if” items.

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A bag for disinfection: I looked back to our canceled Vietnam trip and the preparations we had ready to go. Hand sanitizer, hand wipes, lots of masks (both cloth and surgical), disinfecting wipes – all things I will be packing moving forward regardless of where we go and the mode of transportation. I also packed paper towels and hand soap in case where we were staying did not have some.

Bags for food: I took some liberties here given the car space but since most downtown areas have not resumed 100% operation (and regardless of where we went we would not be participating in any indoor dining, even if it was open), I did not want to waste time trying to find food and questioning the safety of it. I looked around Bar Harbor and according to Google Maps, most places are doing take out and there is limited outdoor dining. I planned to pack for most breakfast / lunch / snacks that we could eat in the mornings and take hiking. I bought items like granola, oatmeal, almond milk, bananas, apples, bagels, crackers, cheese, and hummus. Reminded me of our New Zealand road trip! I also invested in a cooler backpack to keep the cold items properly chilled on our drive up.

A pen: This will be the unsung hero. Think about how many things you have to sign when you are on vacation – waivers for activities, checks for purchases, tips for dining. I packed several of my own pens to avoid using communal ones.

A cell phone tripod: Gone are the days of asking someone to take your photo… cell phones are ten times dirtier than a toilet seat. Bring a way to allow you to take photos without needing a friendly stranger’s potential COVID germs. I bought this tripod for New Zealand and it worked wonderfully to take landscape shots with use in it – put that camera timer to use. Spoiler for the trip but look at how awesome these photos came out!

If we were flying, I would not bring as much food, certainly nothing that needed refrigeration, but I would pack granola, nuts, bars, oatmeal, and other portable snacks to have for travel and the trip itself. These do not add much weight to your pack and I always have brought snacks while traveling.

Welp, I think that is everything! We bought our Acadia National Park pass ahead of time as instructed, have our declaration forms filled out, COVID tests complete, and gas tank is full. Looking back at the rough draft, it is almost spot on for what we are planning on doing. Dining changed a bit since not everything is open and we do know what to expect when we get there. Some of the trails are closed due to peregrine falcon nesting so we may need to make a few modifications there too. And of course weather can always make for some last minute changes to any itinerary.

I am so excited to finally try out a rough draft and test my remote planning skills! Read how the trip went!

 

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