Traveling during a pandemic is a tough no for many Americans. I have friends who still don’t leave the house for groceries and wince at the thought of being out for too long. Strolling the neighborhood for some fresh air is acceptable, but the little social pods that are becoming more popular this summer / fall and where libations and stories are shared with people you miss and love are for these Friends unattractive. Solitary is how they live. And it’s plausible. COVID-19 is scary. The virus infected nearly eight million people in the U.S., and when I fled to the Catskills in April, a third of the confirmed cases came from New York, the epicenter of the tragedy, my hometown. At the time, the CDC recommended that we stay as much as possible. New York was not one of the twelve states provisionally reopened on the first weekend in May. There was still a long way to go to a secluded cottage within state lines. Basic local trips created enough fear. Why would you take the risk of venturing further than Trader Joe in the neighborhood?
But after eight weeks of quarantine with a curious toddler in a cramped Brooklyn apartment, the escape into the thick forests of the Catskills would turn from likely to crucial. I stayed as long as I could. I cooked, cleaned, taught at home, entertained, comforted and looked after my little one and unconsciously neglected my work and myself. The monotony grew tight. I was struggling to find a rhythm that matched the schedule I’d spent hours adjusting for Journey. It took me a moment for my mother, a few days away from everything.
At first I felt guilty about leaving. He was also a victim of the quarantine, right? He longed for connection from his classmates and teachers. He missed our nanny Claudie so much that I encouraged him to write a card titled “Think of You” with us amidst his kind words about taking the B52 bus and going to the library after Corona’s death return to the playground, write an offer of love. Constructive expression helped him deal with it. It was my turn to switch.
Walking is in my DNA. Before COVID, I was out several times a month, this was an integral part of my professional and personal routine. So I narrowed down my search and found a safe way out. For travel. For myself. For us. A quarantine escape was necessary.
Still, COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country. This week, 21 states hit their highest 7-day average for new cases. We have been in this business for nine months and there is no foreseeable end in sight. While international travel may seem far more appealing than road trips to a secluded cottage to rediscover the beauty of your own backyard, we are here. We have this.
Like i did
I’d been planning a glamping-style getaway since Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio ordered us into the house indefinitely in March. That was beneficial, I had a couple of remote outposts on my radar. The first step was to check availability and communicate with a customer service specialist who was able to answer my long list of questions to make sure my experience is safe and COVID-19 free.
My choices were private, lonely escapes, embedded in nature and accessible by car. Quiet places with no common spaces or personal interaction. They were socially distant by nature. And when I was able to confirm details such as: The occupancy was cut in half to provide further protection. An unoccupied night between stays was in practice to tackle everything in the air. Routine cleaning procedures were stepped up to ensure the accommodation facilities were thoroughly disinfected and most importantly, after no COVID-19 cases were reported on the property, I exhaled and booked.
To avoid toilet breaks and gas stations along the way, three hours north of Brooklyn was as far as I dared to go. After my stay was confirmed, I made a list of the things I needed for this special getaway: groceries, supplies, champagne, and cozy lounge attire.
And while supporting local businesses while traveling is important, moving carefully is key during a pandemic. I accepted this as a responsible traveler – face mask, disposable gloves and hand sanitizer in tow, which I still had to do without. Risk to the health and safety of the local population was not an option. In addition, my cabin was fully equipped with a small fridge and stove, as well as an outdoor fireplace where we grilled dinner and made s’mores every evening.
My quarantine escape was intended to recalibrate my mental and emotional wellbeing. Being at home looks different for everyone. I had to flee.
If you need a quarantine escape, take one. Getaway has handcrafted hiding spots across the country and offers cozy, minimalist cabins for couples and groups of four. I stayed at their location in Catskills East, waking up every morning to the swaying of centuries-old trees. If you’re still looking for it, Glamping Hub is another great source of outdoor accommodation. The 30,000 on offer include tiny houses, tipis, domes, yurts and more. Make your choice and travel safely.
See more photos from our trip below.