Traveling during a pandemic is a hard “no” for many Americans. I have friends who still won’t leave home for groceries, and who cringe at the thought of being out for too long. A stroll through the neighborhood for fresh air is acceptable but the small social pods that have become increasingly popular this summer/fall, where libations and stories are shared with people you miss and love, are unattractive to said friends. Solitary confinement is how they’re living. And it’s plausible. COVID-19 is scary. The virus has infected close to eight million people in the U.S., and when I fled to the Catskills back in April, a third of the confirmed cases were coming out of New York, the epicenter of the tragedy, my hometown. At the time, the CDC was recommending that we stay in as much as possible. New York wasn’t one of the dozen states that tentatively reopened the first weekend of May. Road-tripping to a remote cottage within state lines was still a stretch. Essential local travel brought on enough anxiety, why risk venturing any further than the neighborhood Trader Joe’s?
But after eight-weeks of quarantining with a curious toddler in a cramped Brooklyn apartment, escaping to the dense woods of the Catskills would graduate from probable to crucial. I hung in for as long as I could. I was cooking, cleaning, home-schooling, entertaining, comforting and catering to my little one, and unconsciously neglecting my work, and myself. The monotony became confining. I struggled to find a rhythm that complimented the schedule that I’d spent hours customizing for Journey. I needed a mommy moment, a few days away from it all.
Initially, I felt guilt around leaving. He’d been a victim of quarantine too, right? He craved connection from his classmates and teachers. He was missing our nanny Claudie so much that I encouraged him to write a “thinking of you” card, where we slipped in a love offering amidst his kind words about them riding the B52 bus and returning to the library and playground once Corona is over. Constructive expression helped him cope. It was my turn to shift.
Going is in my DNA. Before COVID, I traveled several times a month, it was an integral part of my professional and personal routine. So I narrowed my search and found a safe way out. For Journey. For myself. For us. A quarantine escape was necessary.
Yet, COVID-19 cases across the country continue to rise. This week, 21 states hit their peak 7-day average of new cases. We’re nine months into this thing with no foreseeable end in sight. And while international travel may seem a lot more appealing than road-tripping to a remote cottage to rediscover the beauty in your own backyard, it’s where we are. It’s what we have.
HOW I DID IT
I’d been plotting a glamping-style getaway since Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio ordered us inside indefinitely back in March, which was advantageous, I had a few secluded outposts on my radar. The first step was checking availability and communicating with a customer service specialist who could answer my long list of questions to ensure my experience would be safe and COVID-19 free.
My picks were private solitary escapes nestled in nature and accessible via car. Quiet places with no communal spaces or in-person interaction. They were socially distant by design. And once I was able to confirm details like: occupancy had been slashed in half to provide further protection, an unoccupied night in between stays was in practice to tackle anything airborne, routine cleaning procedures were intensified to ensure lodging options are deeply disinfected and most importantly, zero COVID-19 cases being reported on the property, I exhaled and booked.
To eliminate bathroom breaks and gas stops along the way, three-hours north of Brooklyn was as far as I was willing to venture. Once my stay was confirmed, I made a list of things I needed to bring on this particular getaway: groceries, supplies, champagne and cozy lounge wear.
And although it’s important to support local businesses when you travel, moving carefully is the key during a pandemic. I went into this as a responsible traveler—face mask, disposable gloves and hand sanitizer in tow, whatever was left behind I would have to do without. Risking the health and safety of the local community wasn’t an option. Plus, my cabin was fully decked with a mini fridge and stove, and a fire pit outside that we used to grill dinner nightly and make S’mores.
My quarantine escape was designed to recalibrate my spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Being at home looks different for everyone. I needed to getaway.
If you need a quarantine escape, take one. Getaway has handcrafted hideaways across the country and offers cozy, minimalist cabins for couples and parties of four. I stayed at their Catskills East location and woke up each morning to the sway of century-old trees. If you’re still looking, Glamping Hub is another great outdoor accommodation resource. Its 30,000 listings include tiny houses, tipis, domes, yurts and more. Have your pick and travel safe.
See more photos from our trip below.