The Journal Gazette
Saturday, December 26, 2020 1:00 am

Vacation plans shift, but proceed, despite novel virus

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

The common cold has a way of finding me, especially it seems after I've traveled by airplane.

I've always attributed that to being in the relatively tight enclosed spaces of planes -- even the larger ones -- and that germs flow more freely there.

So being in the worst wave of a global pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives, I had made up my mind months into this that I would not be flying this year.

And then it was vacation time. The desired destinations for my November birthday month were Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. The initial plan was to drive, with the first stop being overnight in Charlotte, North Carolina.

But my husband and I prefer to do far more relaxing and sightseeing than we do driving. So he decided if we went, we would fly. And we would wear N95 masks to reduce our risk of contracting COVID-19, the respiratory virus that has been a contributing factor in the deaths of at least two and perhaps three of our relatives since summer.

N95 masks, even non-medical grade, have had favorable reviews, but I don't care for how they look. I prefer black masks, but it's more challenging to find those N95s in local stores, particularly without the valve -- which the airline wisely required.

So I purchased a couple of three-packs at Meijer. They were moderately priced, about $10 a pack. Even better, the night I went to purchase them, it was buy one and get 50% off the second pack.

My husband has been wearing N95s regularly, for work and in general. Others I purchased had an irritating rub on his ear.

I found the N95 fit nicely. It was easy to breathe in and I felt protected -- not that I wouldn't in the variety of other masks I purchased -- but I was honoring my husband's preference.

We drove to Indianapolis to catch a flight to Charlotte and from there rented an SUV to drive the four hours to Hilton Head. Savannah is just an hour from there -- an easy day trip. It would have cost just a few dollars more to fly to Hilton Head or Savannah, but that would have required a connecting flight and we wanted to avoid that.

With coronavirus cases rising in late October and early November, my husband and I discussed whether we should still take the trip or wait. Airlines have been flexible about changes and delays, due to the pandemic.

What made it a go for me was when I Googled to find a map of states showing positivity rates for COVID. Indiana was orange and red -- the highest levels, while the Carolinas were in the orange and yellow zones, with lower positivity rates.

In booking the flights, thankfully I was able to get us in the rows going and coming with just two seats next to each other. And we were greeted on each flight by an attendant distributing small packaged sanitizing wipes to each passenger. Trust me, I had packed plenty in our carryon bags.

While on the trip, evening news reports made it clear that public health and government officials in the Carolinas and Georgia were sounding the alarm about the spreading virus. Still, it was a needed and perfect getaway for me, despite the constant handwashing and sanitizer use.

I find nothing more calming and relaxing than a room with an oceanfront view. And I felt like the escape may have reduced my potential exposure for contracting COVID -- even if just for six days.

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