I will be the first to admit that the idea of traveling during a global pandemic was not my idea of fun but sometimes life has some unexpected plans. In early July I found myself having to make a trip to Santa Barbara for a few days and immediately started researching. Over the course of the few days away from home I came up with a whole new play book for travel in this new world.
Research, Research, Research.
If you have decided it’s time for a road trip (safely) or you have to travel for reasons out of your control I can’t express this first point enough. I started by reading up on the latest restrictions for California and then reached out via Instagram to Visit Santa Barbara. I asked questions about what was open, current mask requirements, and safety precautions that would need to be followed. My goal was to not only be sure my family and I would be safe but also to be sure we were helping to keep residents and other visitors safe. If you are looking into a trip and want to ask questions I suggest starting with the tourism bureau or the hotel, if you are staying in one.
Understand the Rules and Follow Them
This one should seem like a no brainer. Santa Barbara requires masks to be worn by everyone while in public, that includes walking on Stearn’s Wharf, at the Harbor, in hotels, and walking or biking around town. Masks may be removed once you are seated at a restaurant or tasting room or at the hotel pools. I also learned that many restaurants have limits on party size to ensure proper social distancing. 6 seemed to be the magic number everywhere we ate, if your family is larger than that be sure to call ahead and understand how dining outside may work.
Don’t Forget to Pack A Mask
This may seem obvious but don’t forget to pack your masks! No matter where you plan on visiting the likelihood of mask requirements is high. Be sure you have enough to get you through the trip because the excuse of “my mask broke” won’t work.
Plan Outdoor Activities
Since the majority of indoor experiences are off limits take the time to enjoy the great outdoors. Take a bike ride through the city, enjoy an outdoor wine tasting, go sailing or even take a hike. There are so many amazing things to do for couples or families this time of year. While in Santa Barbara a private sunset sail on the Sunset Kidd is a can’t miss and a Red Tile Roof walking tour is the perfect way to see the gorgeous architecture.
While it may at times FEEL like things are back to normal it’s not fair to assume the destination you have selected feels the same way. Don’t assume that things will be open or that hotel amenities will be exactly what you are used to. Food & Beverage may not be available at your hotel, pool bars may be closed, and things may change from day to day, be prepared to go with the flow. Also, hospitality, restaurant, and retail workers are taking a risk each day they show up to work, be gracious and appreciative of them.