Our First Post-Pandemic(ish) Family Trip

Our first post-pandemic trip—Is it post-pandemic? Maybe post-vaccinated trip—was in March 2021. We flew to San Diego for a few days and then drove to Palm Springs for five days. Traveling with all the new policies and regulations was a learning experience as well as venturing to states with different mandates.

Arriving at the airport, I initially noticed there is no longer an outdoor baggage check due to COVID. Everyone checking a bag has to wait inside. Everything has been made “contactless” and the kiosks to check-in are quite finicky. If you are traveling soon, allow for about 30-45 minutes of extra time for the checked bag process.

The security process has changed slightly. You begin by pulling your mask down for two seconds so TSA can confirm your I.D. then continue through the line. Nothing has to come out of your bags, not even laptops. Contrary to coming home from California, everything had to come out of your bag. I believe this is an airport-by-airport decision.

The boarding process was the same. They ask that you be socially distant, yet you still line up 1-30 or 30-60 to board (depending on the airline) so it seems to still be a cattle call. This was the first time I felt a bit anxious being around so many strangers.

Once you are on the plane, masks must stay on the entire flight unless you are having a bite of food or drinking your beverage. It is also important to note that if there is a change in cabin pressure, you pull your mask down and put on the oxygen mask, in case you were confused.

first flight pandemicGetting a 3-year-old to sit still and be entertained for a multiple hour flight is a task in itself, adding a mask to that equation is almost impossible. My little one was getting feisty on the plane and really wouldn’t keep her mask on. I recommend bringing a lot of snacks, I think she ate veggie straws for a solid hour. The flight attendants were very patient with the kids and understood that wearing a mask for hours was difficult for them.

Once we got our rental car, which was exceptionally clean, we made it to the hotel. This was the largest change to travel thus far. We stayed at the Embassy Suites; I tend to think it’s the best place to stay with a family. In San Diego, happy hour changed to beverages in your room, there weren’t cleaning services, sack breakfast meals instead of a continental breakfast, the pools were closed and they had a large table in the entryway where guests could have their to-go food delivered.

Once we arrived in Palm Springs, there were many differences. The Embassy Suites just two hours away was very lax on masks. The pools were open, breakfast was open, but it was served like a cafeteria line, happy hour was open, and available in the atrium, but the cleaning services were unavailable.

One part of the trip I failed to think about was dining out. A lot. The kids hadn’t eaten out in a restaurant in a year, and going out to eat is not like riding a bike. We ended up being “those parents” who let their kids watch an iPad at the table. Honestly, it made meals much more enjoyable, so it was worth it.

As different as the trip was from pre-COVID travel, the kids did great. I would do it all again even knowing we would be masked up for the flight, learning to dine out with the kids again, and having a unique hotel stay. Travel will be different moving forward and some of the policies may seem extraneous, but in the end, it is for our health and safety, which makes these precautions worth it.

I am a mom of two girls, 4 & 6 and a baby boy who arrived in June as well as our fur-baby, Walter. I've been married to my southern raised, patient and silly husband for 8 years. Born and raised in Kansas City, I am naturally an avid Chiefs fan. I am the Director of E-Commerce & Retail at J. Rieger & Co. distillery and thoroughly enjoy being a full time-working mom. I am an open book and hope that my real stories of what works for our family and the raw emotions that come with each of life's curve balls helps guide other families along their journey. Being a Mom of two wildly active girls, one whose spirit needs some extra attention, I am currently navigating child advocacy and support for parents who lean on professional resources for children with behavioral disorders. I love getting lost in the kitchen or a book, going on walks and spending time with friends & family.