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It sure has been one crazy summer. If you had asked me seven months ago what I envisioned summer 2020 to look like it definitely would not have involved a 1300 mile drive over eight states, and two and a half months spent in Florida. But as we all know 2020 gave us lemons and we decided to turn our summer into lemonade. In June when I drove from New York to Florida during the coronavirus pandemic I detailed my day-to-day feelings and the entire journey in a diary which turned into a very popular blog post. Now as we attempt to do the reverse trip and head from Florida to New York during covid, I’ve decided to document my journey once again. Keep reading to see how my trip from Florida to New York during the coronavirus pandemic turned out.
Driving to New York during COVID-19, Two Resort Stays and Random Thoughts on New York Traveler’s Quarantine
Warning: This account represents my personal experience (and feelings) regarding travel during the Coronavirus pandemic. As always, consult local authorities regarding travel and do your research to ensure you are making the safest choices for you and your family.
August 14, 2020 – Last day as Florida “Residents”
Today is our last official day living like Florida residents and our first official day of a week -long vacation.
Yes, it may have seemed like our entire summer was one vacation but in reality, we were just living our lives and doing what we normally do, just in Southwest Florida. Hubby was still working, we were still doing our appointments, chores, grocery shopping, cooking, and exercising. Hell, when we first arrived in Naples, the kids still had two weeks of school to finish.
Yeah, it’s been a while.
Last week we drove from Naples to Orlando, Florida to spend the week visiting with family, going to LEGOLAND Florida, hanging out at Disney Springs, and staying one night at Walt Disney World. We even got to enjoy a character meal – Breakfast ala Art with Mickey and Friends! Hubby was still working remotely so sadly he could not join us at the amusement parks.
Today however we are leaving the condo we’ve been staying in and heading to the Gaylord Palms resort, still in Orlando, but with the hubby and the intention of vacationing, not just hanging out in a new place.
Two Nights at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Orlando Florida
I had seen lots of bloggers posting about the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center on social media. They hosted some of my friends for a media event earlier in the summer and it looks like a great property and that the crowds were very low this summer.
The Gaylord Palms in Orlando has a full waterpark, beautiful pools, and it is a resort built around an indoor atrium. I thought this looked like a unique and interesting property to check out.
I will have a full review of the Gaylord Palms in Orlando up on my site and had a very good time there. When we arrived on Saturday the pool area was a little more crowded than I would like to see in times of Covid, but by Saturday night the crowds significantly thinned out and we had a very enjoyable pool day on Sunday.
JUST UPDATED OCTOBER 2020: What its like to visit the Caribbean during COVID, my Antigua Trip Report.
August 16, 2020 – Driving from Florida to Jekyll Island, Georgia
After two nights at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, we are finally going to hit the road and head out of the state of Florida. We’re not quite heading home yet. We wanted to stop at one more place along the way to both break up the drive and to enjoy a new resort. In the end we decided to return to the Westin Jekyll Island in the southeast part of Georgia. We stayed at this resort in June on the drive from New York to Florida. In June we only stayed one night, and this time we had two nights, so we were very excited to return to this area.
Leaving Florida was very bitter sweet. There are things we are looking forward to about returning home, but we’ve had such a great summer in our safe, little bubble.
The trip from the Gaylord Palms to Jekyll Island was a little over three hours of driving time. The kids watched movies hubby and I listen to a few podcasts and I had my first Chick-fil-A experience in the Jacksonville Florida area. My friend Anna Marie from Beauty and the Beets told me about a vegetarian Chick-fil-A secret menu item so I was super excited to try this out. You essentially order the wrap without the chicken aka a “veggie wrap”. Get the avocado lime dressing as well, this certainly did not disappoint
After Chick-fil-a, we arrived at the Westin Jekyll Island around 2:30 PM. When we first came here in June it was a strange experience for us because as we pulled into the island, we saw people milling about, no one wearing masks, and no one social distancing. At the time, it was like coronavirus had never happened here.
Well fast forward to August and we saw a lot more social distancing and there was a local mask mandate in place. Overall, there were also way less people vacationing here than we saw in June.
August 18, 2020 – The Drive Back to New York during COVID-19
After an awesome time on Jekyll Island (full post on that coming soon), today was the day it was officially time to head home. I had planned our route so that we would be driving approximately six hours on the first day and 7 to 8 hours on the next. Along the way, I made a reservation to spend the night at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Rocky Mount North Carolina. I regret not stopping in Charleston, but maybe next time!
On our last morning, we stayed at the Westin until about noon – enjoying our last bit of pool and beach time. We hit the road at noon, with the intention to grab Chick-fil-a for lunch before getting on I-95 for the six hour ride.
Yes, I became a little obsessed with the Chick-fil-a!
When we arrived at Chick-fil-a in Brunswick, GA, the drive thru line was about a half mile long. Like the outlet in JAX, they were doing drive thru only. The line moved slow and when we finally got our food, we had to pull over on the side of the parking lot to sit on the grass and eat.
They also gave me a chicken wrap, so hubby had to walk back and get a new sandwich.
By the time we got on I-95 it was almost 1:30. This day of driving was like Road Tripping for Dummies. We also could not use the bathroom at the restaurant, so had to stop at the SC Welcome Center for that. Then around 5:30 the kids were complaining they were hungry (because baby girl didn’t eat her Chick-fil-a for some reason) so we pulled off at a McDonald’s which also had drive thru only, with a very long line.
At that point, with two hours to go, stupid me didn’t realize we were low on gas, so we had to make yet another stop. AND when we pulled into the hotel at 7:45, hubby had not eaten, I was so tired I wasn’t even hungry, so he had to go out and find some dinner. Clearly, we could have condensed the dinner/gas stop with some road trip better planning.
But such is 2020, right?
August 19, 2020 – Driving to New York during COVID and how to avoid NYC Checkpoints
Today was the day.
The last day.
Or the first day home, I guess depending on how you looked at it.
The Fairfield Inn and Suites in Rocky Mount, NC was great. It’s a brand new hotel only having been open a few weeks at the time of our visit. Unfortunately, the indoor pool and fitness center were closed, but since I have been to a few hotels during the pandemic, I expected that.
At the Fairfield Inn, usually they provide a fabulous hot breakfast, but because of COVID, they only had a grab and go option. This was kind of disappointing, as the bags of food provided included an apple, an oatmeal raisin bar and some sort of sausage biscuit you could microwave. Not as well done as the Grab n’ Go at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Naples.
My fault though. I should have inquired about what the breakfast would be before the morning, which was another rookie mistake. Which also meant I had to go out and GET breakfast before departing for New York. Thinking I’d grab something quick, I went to a Dunkin’ Donuts four miles from the hotel.
And what did I see when I arrived?
A LONG DRIVE THRU LINE.
This just added unnecessary time to an already long day and had me all grumpy already.
At least I was caffeinated.
The ride home was long.
Google maps said eight hours from the hotel to our house, but I had not planned to go the fastest way. I planned to drive about an hour out of the way to circumvent any check points at the NJ/NYC bridges.
For those who don’t know – to help enforce the extensive mandatory quarantine most travelers face when arriving in New York, the state has allocated precious resources to setting up “checkpoints” at various places you can enter New York City from New Jersey (which is currently NOT on the list of banned states). As far as I heard, they were stopping cars at random (without any probable cause) and asking you where you were coming from.
I didn’t want to get stopped, or have to fill out some form and then spend two weeks waiting for the government to check up on me. We have been isolating ourselves for five months, wearing our masks always and I personally feel it’s WRONG to put innocent people on house arrest and this is just another scare tactic the government is using.
Although even doctors would agree, you isolate sick people, not healthy people.
Anyway, see my exact route below, but as we came into New York, we were never notified of any quarantine, travel restrictions, etc. Nothing on any marquee or anything. So as far as I know, I will continue to live my life.
With the extra miles, and lots of traffic, we finally arrived home around 7PM.
TO AVOID NYC CHECKPOINTS: Take the NJ Turnpike to the end. The signs say George Washington Bridge, but don’t get on that (Checkpoint). Get off to go NORTH on 9W. Take the Palisades Parkway North into New York State. Then cross at the Tappan Zee Bridge and come back south to the Throgs Neck Bridge.
Have your route planned or look a map before you go. I did get a little lost on side streets going from the Palisades to the Tappan Zee Bridge.
OCTOBER 2020 UPDATE: What it was like to fly during the pandemic
After 1300 Miles, Coming Home to a Clean House and No Air Conditioning
I will say, if you plan to leave your house for an extended period of time, leave your house clean. I was so glad we had gotten our house cleaned right before we left, it definitely helped my mood walking into a clean house.
When we left in June, our air conditioner broke the day before. We were unable to get it fixed before heading to Florida, but luckily when we arrived home, it wasn’t too hot inside the house.
And luckily, we had lots of food in our freezer so there was actually something to eat. I guess all that panic buying I did in the spring paid off!
14-days Later – We survived New York State Quarantine
So today is our last official day of house arrest (that’s what I called it, I was not actually on house arrest)
It’s been a long, boring, wild, 14-days filled with all the emotions.
In fact, for the first week I had to take a CLEAN BREAK from social media and not until yesterday did I get back to my scheduled blog and social media posts.
Honestly, I had nothing good to say.
I didn’t even update this diary.
The air conditioner took five days to get fixed, and of course those days were unseasonably hot, and let’s just say, NOT FUN.
Of course, right?
As that first weekend wore on, it was so hot, none of us could form a thought. We pretty much spent all day sitting in the downstairs living room with the shades drawn and the ceiling fan on high. We had to sleep downstairs, where there are ceiling fans and the temperatures were a little cooler.
We did watch an entire season of Amazing Race on Amazon Prime, which is a great series to watch as a family, so that was something.
By Sunday, the upstairs thermostat was reading 88 degrees, and in all honesty, we should have gone to a hotel. I wasn’t sleeping good, I was so cranky, and I was disappointed that no one offered to help us.
But as we approach the eve of freedom, which is also baby girl’s 9th birthday, I will summarize my “quarantine” here.
We did not spend 14-days sitting in our house staring at the walls. We went to the beach twice, had ice cream, got take out, went to the grocery store, I went paddle boarding, and I got my nails done. Of course, we did all these things WITH INTENTION, in the next town or county over, so as not to run into anyone we knew and obviously did not post on social media about it.
I turned down several invitations to socialize, more because of my liability if God forbid someone got sick, even though I don’t have COVID any more than the next person who has been social distancing and wearing masks.
I did not let my son resume soccer practice, although maybe that was just a good excuse to not have to get back to activities 🙂
I also became obsessed with checking the graphs – the county I spent the summer in has LESS COVID CASES than the one I am quarantined in! Even when you account for population size, we are talking less than 10 people PER 100,000 more that test positive a day.
New York State Quarantine Is Over – Let Freedom Ring
So we survived our 14 days, and I can now proudly say – I went to Florida, seven other states, four water parks, seven hotels, countless beaches, took tours, ate in many restaurants, went to Disney Springs, Universal’s City Walk, and spent two days at Walt Disney World, and DID NOT GET COVID.
Proof that masks and social distancing work, that you can leave your home and be safe, and that you can travel and enjoy life.
Just be careful!
I do hope these ridiculous state mandated “quarantines” are done away with soon. I know I for one will be speaking out against them. Not only has it killed my travel business, even the CDC has said that if you wear a mask and social distance, you do NOT need to self-isolate healthy travelers.
I hope my journey – to Florida and back – has inspired you to get out of the house, and get on with life.
To your comfort level of course!
Definitely let me know if you have questions about this trip and tell me have you left your state during the pandemic? How did it go? Where did you go? Did you have to “quarantine” when you returned?