David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 5th Week Of March 2021
David Danto’s ongoing list of disjointed and occasionally random observations and thoughts as we wait-out the pandemic – mostly NOT traveling like we used to.
Well, I did it…I actually did something I haven’t done in over a year. I booked a near-term trip. I’m going to be traveling again.
This isn’t some long-off future trip that I’ve speculatively booked for August…or October…or next January…or beyond. Yes, if you read my blogs you’d know I had done that already, but those are different. My August trip and the others I’ve mentioned are far-enough into the future that even I know they might never happen. I mean, who ever thought we’d be a year into this pandemic and still be essentially locked-down. No, in this case it’s a real trip…one I’m committed to taking. And I’m both excited and nervous.
One of my wife’s relatives is having a family event / party in May on the other side of the US. (I’m on the east coast, they’re on the west.) We were trepidatious about going, but then our relative explained that it will be a completely outdoor event taking place over one long afternoon / evening. We did the math. Positives: My wife and I are both vaccinated (+20.) The party will be outdoors (+10.) We have other vaccinated relatives going (+10.) We’ll be able to see family that we haven’t seen in over a year (+15.) We can take some extra days on the Pacific Ocean coastline to turn it into a real getaway (+10.) We have loads of credit card and hotel points that can make the trip have almost no cost (+10.) We’re eager to finally have a break somewhere (+10.) The airline faire was ridiculously inexpensive (under $250 each for a multi-city itinerary into LAX and back from SAN – a typical $700 fare) (+10.) Negatives: There is no guarantee that the vaccines work against the emerging virus variants (-25.) We’d be flying United (-10.) Can they even remove virus particles from rental car air filters (-5?) Lord knows what kind of services we’ll be able to get at the hotels in this pandemic (-5.) Lord knows what kind of restaurants and attractions are open right now (-5.) Total: +50 – not a slam-dunk but squarely in the positive range. So we decided to do it.
Normally I’m in the “I’d rather die before I check a bag for less than a week away” camp, but in this case I can’t see how we’d be able to manage with just carry ons. Heck, we’ll probably need one checked bag just for the HEPA/UV air purifier we’ll use in the hotel room, the germ-free pillows we’ll sleep on, the bottles of alcohol we’ll spray on everything, and all the spare N95 masks. (Actually, thinking about it as I type this, it’s probably not a great idea to have a checked bag with bottles of alcohol in it if we don’t want to freak out the TSA/airline inspectors. I’ll probably order from Amazon or Walmart and have it shipped directly to our hotel.)
Every time I think at a high level about going I get excited. I can’t wait to see family and to have the break away. I can’t wait to see the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. However, every time I drill down into the details of going I get frightened. We’ll be on a plane…where people will never wear a mask for all six hours of the flight…driving a car we haven’t cleaned – that was driven by lots of other people…eating away from home for a week…sleeping on beds that have held lord knows how many others…etc. This stuff never bothered me before, but we’ve never had a deadly global pandemic in my lifetime before.
I still have nearly two months to drive myself crazy about this stuff, so no need to get it all out of my system in a single blog. There’s still lots of time to plan and panic – and cancel if necessary – but I think this one is really go time.
Just remember, as they say, the light at the end of the tunnel could very well be a train coming at you……
One other quick point for this week’s blog. My wife’s passport had expired in February, and mine was going to in May. We heard horror stories about how long the delay was in getting passports renewed, but the expediting agencies we had used sometimes in the past told us they’d still charge us hundreds for the service, but then they’d be mailing it in just like the rest of us. So we took new photos and sent the renewal forms by expedited mail on March 2nd. We paid the extra expediting fee of ~$70 each to get them returned faster – fully expecting that we’d be lucky if we got them in the estimated 60 days. My wife’s came back yesterday – 21 days later. I’m still waiting for mine. I also don’t know if they’ll automatically transfer my Global Entry to the new passport or if I need to make an appointment to visit CBP at the airport again (email advice welcome of course.)
As always, please feel free to write to me with comments or items I should add to a future Not Traveling blog (or if you just need someone to write to.) Stay safe, be well, hug those you’re sheltering with (but no one else) and do your best to stay positive. We’re going to be in this for a while longer.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.
The Explanation for my Not Traveling blogs: In 2014 I was voted by USA Today readers as one of the top ten business travel bloggers in the USA. Now mind you, I turned out to be number ten on the list of ten, but I did make it on (with my thanks to all those who voted.) Now that we’re all stuck at home and not traveling, I had to think about what to do with my blogs. I could stop writing them entirely – waiting till we all get through the current COVID19 pandemic / crisis. I could wax nostalgic and/or complain about past trips. Or, I could focus all of my efforts on my day job – growing the use of collaboration technologies – especially in light of how many people are now forced to use those tools for the first time. In reflecting upon those choices, what I decided to do is compile an ongoing list of observations during the crisis. Some of these may amuse, some may inform, some may sadden and others may help. My goal will be for you to have seen something in a different light than you did before you stopped to read the blog. I was going to apologize for how disjointed these thoughts may seem when put together, but then it dawned on me that feeling disjointed is our new normal – at least for a little while.