ARE YOU READY TO TRAVEL?
Are you ready to jump in the deep end and start traveling again?
It has been six months since I have traveled.
I knew that everything was going to look very different when I decided to travel again, but I did not know to what level.
In this blog post I am going to share with you what I have experienced in my two most recent travels to Key West and Wrightsville Beach.
The beginning of the Key West trip was me driving to the major airport closest to my home which is about 1.5 hours away. I always try to save money by parking in one of the long-term parking lots for about $8 a day. When I arrived at the airport to park I could already feel this travel experience was going to be very different.
As soon as I entered the airport there were numerous signs saying "long-term parking lots closed." So immediately started to wander "where am I supposed to park, because I am not parking in the expensive daily parking lot!" Eventually I seen a sign that directed all cars to the daily parking garage and the cost was the same as long-term parking.
At this point I realized just how much the travel industry had been hit since the last time I flew. At this airport before the pandemic almost every parking lot would be close to full, but now everyone was being directed to the one parking garage. I didn't mind this because it put me right in front of the airport terminal and I didn't have to wait on a shuttle.
S/N: With the shuttle not in the picture that meant the possibility of lost jobs for those who drove those shuttles. Hopefully they found another job at the airport.
Inside The Airport
Inside the airport the changes continued. I had a 7am flight and when I went up to the top level where TSA was located I seen that it was only one checkpoint open. During regular travel times this would have been a nightmare and I definitely would have missed my flight. You are to wear your mask during travel except for when they need to identify your face.
The line moved smoothly and outside of it only being one checkpoint open the rest of the process was the same.
Once through TSA I began to look around the terminal at the various food stops and they were not open. Not only were they not open you could tell they were not going to open up later. Each one that I seen was completely stripped. Cinnabon that should have been opened at that time was completely empty and you could tell nothing was there because even the protective gate was not down.
The only places that were open was the gift/magazine/snack shops and of course Starbucks. I was planning to get breakfast at the Delta Sky Lounge, but the location at this airport was closed. That meant I had to take a chance on there being food on the flight.
The airlines are trying to minimize crowding during the boarding process which is a win for Basic Economy customers like myself! Airlines are now boarding First Class then calling passengers with seats in the back first. So in other words they are starting with the highest numbers then going down. It is truly now the saying "The first will be last and the last will be first."
Before you step on the plane one of the flight attendants are there to give sanitizer wipes and another attendant has your snacks in a zip lock bag for you to pick up. The snack bag has cheeze-its, cookies, water, napkin, and Purell hand sanitizer in it. This was a Delta flight so I do not know how other airlines are doing things.
Delta is not allowing middle seats to be booked so in my row of five seats there were only two of us. On the way back home I was the only one in the entire emergency row section! One nice touch that Delta had was that the marketing department alerted the flight attendants to go up to passengers who have not flown in a while to say "welcome back."
One noticeable difference I seen with the air condition is that it was on blast so if you plan to travel make sure to bring a jacket. For the flights that had movies on board Delta passed out earphones for free when those same earphone used to cost money in the past.
Sky Club Experience
Just in case you have a membership at one of the Airline Lounges just know that food is now in wrappers and not out in the open. There are glass dividers at most of the seats in the Delta Sky Lounge and space is plenty if it is not full. Delta has extended membership six additional months to make up for the missed time.
Before you book a hotel room please pay attention to what you are booking. If you are used to a hotel chain serving you a hot breakfast you need to call ahead of time and see what their procedures are at this time. The hotel served hot breakfast in Key West and Wilmington, but I had to give my order to the hotel employee first then my food would be boxed up to go.
I had an issue in Wilmington when it came to food. I ordered a room with drinks and snacks, but when I arrived they informed me they were not doing that. The room was the same price as a regular room, but that was not the point. The employee said that they have asked the company to take that option off and she gave me two free breakfasts for four people (insert side eye).
Many hotels are cleaning your room ahead of time and not cleaning it again unless you request it. They are trying to reduce their employees going in and out of rooms until it is time to completely sanitize it for the next guest. You can get new towels from the front desk each day and put your trash outside your room so they change it.
When I was in Key West and Wilmington I had minimal contact with employees outside of the front desk.
Extra Curricular Activities
Just like the flight and the hotel companies that provide excursions or activities for tourist had to adjust as well.
While in Key West I decided to purchase a Dolphin Watching excursion. When I stepped on the boat the captain began to give out safety instructions. Unless we were eating, drinking, or snorkeling we had to keep our masks on. Before the pandemic each passenger could get their own drinks out the cooler, but the new rules was that his co-captain had to get all the drinks.
I had a great time watching and swimming with the dolphins and it was still a great adventure!
I will admit that travel is very different from when I traveled in February, but I believe that you can still enjoy yourself. Also with the low price of flights I think you can deal with the small changes.
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