By now you have probably seen that I went on a mini vacay last weekend. You may be wondering how- during the pandemic- I was able to travel, and what it was like. Let me preface this and say that I NEEDED to get away. One of the hardest things about being homebound the past 4 months, is not having easy access to an outdoor space that is my own. Being couped up in an apartment is hard, and I needed a change of scenery for my mind and soul. My husband is also an essential worker and has been working nonstop to keep our business in operation, all while keeping our staff, our customers, and himself safe- so he was absolutely deserving of a quick getaway for sure.
While on our mini vacation, I documented the trip via Instagram and had a ton of questions about the trip. I thought it may be helpful to share what we did that worked, or what didn't work, so that it may help you if you're also looking to getaway and unplug for a bit for a corona-cation.
Duck Harbor Beach, Cape Cod
Location, location, location
I'm sure you're first wondering- why Cape Cod? I grew up going to Cape Cod, MA with my parents on summer vacation. Many of my memories with my mom involve the cape and it is very nostalgic for me. Not to mention- its beautiful. About 4 years ago I took David for the first time, and we visited again the next year and brought my in-laws as I wanted to share the experience of the cape. (See previous posts here and here).
When we were starting to seriously look at places that were within driving distance (as we're not quite ready to fly yet), we thought of the Outer Banks or Rehobeth Beach, but after seeing surging cases and people not complying with safety regulations in both areas, we nixed that plan. We wanted to go somewhere safe and somewhere that already had strict COVID-19 regulations. I knew it was a long drive for just a 3 night getaway, but I started to think of Cape Cod and I researched their pandemic stance. Upon learning of their ultra strict regulations around the pandemic and low number of cases, I knew it would be our best bet. We decided to stay in Provincetown- my favorite town on the cape for its views of the water, quirk, arts, and whimsical atmosphere.
Masks are a mandatory requirement along Commercial Street in Provincetown, Cape Cod
Airbnb or Hotel
Once we decided location, I started to look up Airbnb rentals. Provincetown is mostly all rentals/Airbnb or small B&B's anyways, so staying in a large scale hotel wasn't an option. And to be honest, I preferred an Airbnb as it felt more personal and I wanted to be able to really discuss safety with the host of the rental. I also wanted to have more seclusion with renting a small cottage or home, rather than staying in a hotel with more turnover and more people in and out of it and shared spaces like the lobby or elevator.
The cottage rental at the Whorf Guest House
I found a cute cottage in the heart of Provincetown and spoke directly with the hosts via Airbnb. I made sure they were OK with us renting as we were coming from Virginia, and they also assured me they were taking extreme COVID-19 precautions in their rental. The cottage was on the grounds of their property, but the entire stay we social distanced, wore masks on the property, and had minimal in-person interactions. They assured us the cottage had been throughly cleaned- which I believe as it was spotless when we checked in, and I also brought disinfecting wipes which I used again on commonly touched surfaces. I also brought our own pillows as well, just in case. I felt completely safe in the cottage rental, and would absolutely stay there again!
Would you believe me if I said I felt safer on the cape that I did at home in DC? Because its true. Cape Cod is NOT messing around with coronavirus and I seriously think other states need to follow MA's lead. The entire cape required masks and social distancing and literally everyone adhered to the regulations. In Provincetown itself, masks were required on the main Commercial Street- no matter what. They had police regulating the wearing of masks, and even had town safety ambassadors who handed out hand sanitizer and masks along Commercial Street! The shops were open with limited hours and a limited number of guests at a time. Some even required gloves upon entry as well! In our 3 days there, I only saw one woman blatantly without any sort of mask on Commercial Street and people were arguing with her- it was a scene and police were called! But- in all of three days, only seeing one non-mask wearer is a pretty good average if you ask me.
There is signage all over the Cape requiring mandatory masks upon entry to shops, restaurants, and activities. Restaurants have QR codes to look up the menu on your phone to avoid any contact.
The restaurants enforced masks unless you're seated at your table and legit did not play around. The first night there, we were having dinner at Pepe's Wharf, and the manager stopped a woman who had forgotten to put her mask on as she was leaving and reminded her to put it on. The restaurants had no menus- instead, they had a QR code to scan on your phone to look up the menu, which I thought was a great idea. On another instance, David and I were enjoying a cocktail at Harbor Lounge (our fave spot in Ptown) and a woman at one of the other tables tried to spark up a conversation with us. She was not wearing a mask (as she was seated), but kept moving her chair closer and closer to us while talking. The staff saw what was going on and asked her to move back and not converse with other groups outside of hers without a mask on. I was so impressed with how vocal everyone was about adhering to masks and social distancing. I felt protected and safe in every dining and shopping setting.
Many shops and businesses had displays of masks to show solidarity with keeping the community safe.
On the beaches, everyone wore masks from the parking lots to the sand and was spaced out over 6 ft apart. Walking to/from the water to our spot on the beach was even clear as people were so far apart. I never once felt unsafe, but it did start to get crowded as it got later in the day, so I recommend going to the beaches in the early morning while its pretty empty and leaving early afternoon before any potential crowds.
From DC, the drive to the base of Cape Cod is about 7.5/8 hours, then its another 1/1.5 hours to the northern part of the cape, where Provincetown is located. We planned out our drive with plans to leave super early to avoid traffic and crowds at rest stops. For the drive there, we stopped only once for gas and a restroom break at a rest stop in CT. It was still early that Thursday morning, so the rest stop was not crowded and everyone was wearing masks. We were safely able to social distance and literally didn't waste any time- we went in and got out as quickly as possible. We also had packed a small cooler with snacks and drinks so we didn't have to stop for food.
On the way back, we stopped twice- once in CT and once in NJ. It was a Sunday afternoon, so there was definitely more people and less space to social distance. In CT, everyone wore a mask and we had a good, fast experience. In NJ, though, things got a little uncomfortable. The majority of people were wearing masks, however there were some without masks and the food service was extremely slow, meaning we had to spend more time inside the rest stop around others.
If the rest stops or driving a longer distance is holding you back from traveling, my advice is to take into consideration times of day and plan your drive around that. Weekdays are obviously going to be less crowded at rest stops rather than weekends, so if its something you're worried about, try planning your driving days on week days (early) rather than weekends when there are likely to be more people out. Also while the food/drink options are better at the NJ stops, I felt safer at the CT stops.
For photos, I brought my iPhone tripod and bluetooth clicker so David and I could take photos on our own, without having to plea with someone to take a photo of the two of us (lol, couple travel probs- right?). It may seem silly, but I even lugged the tripod down to the beach and used it for myself, although David was too embarrassed to get in the photo, LOL.
Look for socially distant activities to do. We decided to splurge and rent a sail boat for one of the afternoons. We wanted to do a boat excursion, but also wanted to be safe and not be around a lot of other people. We rented the boat for just the 2 of us, and on board it was just us and 2 captains- one steering the boat and the other was in the cabin doing admin work and we barely saw him. Masks were required in the cabin, and we maintained distance above cabin and had a great experience. I recommend looking into something similar so you can still enjoy things you want to do, but in a private setting. Other options could be a private walking or bike tour, etc. Cape Cod has a number of bike and walking trails along the Cape Cod National Seashore and the atmosphere is absolutely gorgeous, and perfect for social distancing.
I hope this post is helpful if you're looking to travel! I say as long as you can travel safely and socially distant- go for it!
Blonde in the District