I Traveled This Past Weekend & It Was Both Amazing & Terrifying

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Traveling During COVID-19
A silly picture I took in Arizona that I never intended to share, but I need a pic for the top of this post! 🙂 The bathroom in our room was nice but we were given an accessible room for some reason. I should probably also say I don’t normally wear a mask inside the room.

Traveling During COVID-19

Since March I have largely been isolated from the outside world thanks to COVID-19. Being able to isolate was a blessing considering so many essential workers had to be out there during the pandemic. And of course medical personnel across the country have done amazing things as well. I want to personally send a HUGE THANKS to all of the essential workers who have been keeping things moving along.

And whether you agree with it or not, moving along is what many parts of the country are doing. Las Vegas opened last Thursday and I was there to cover it for the site. A lot of readers view our posts about Vegas, so it made sense to get back into the world. I’m not quite sure I was ready for what I saw, but I also tremendously enjoyed the experience as well. That was a theme that carried through all of my travels this weekend.

Vegas Is Being Vegas

Traveling During COVID-19
Checking into my “hacked” $27 Caesars Palace hotel room last Thursday night many people had masks. When I got to the casino later I discovered those were largely gone.

As I documented in video, Vegas largely returned back to normal this past weekend. Yes, casinos installed sanitizing stations and they provide optional masks, but very very few people were wearing them and as the weekend went on additional videos I saw made it clear that social distancing wasn’t being practiced in the crowds.

When I was on the Strip what I saw was people trying to get back to some sort of normalcy. Vegas is about fun and largely people were doing the same things they did before COVID-19. They gathered in clumps in casinos, cheered each other on, laughed, joked, drank, smoked and used little protection from what I could see.

My Road Trip to Phoenix

Traveling During COVID-19
National Rental Car at the McCarran International Airport Rental Car Center on Saturday June 6, 2020.

I also traveled to Phoenix this weekend. I’ve been looking at buying a Tesla for a long time, but have been actively waiting to buy for a month. Seeing as I was already going to be out of the house for the Vegas reopening, I felt it made sense to time the purchase of the car to the same weekend.

So on Saturday morning I drove over to the McCarran International Airport rental car center and got a one-way rental from National. It was a small taste of my old life. The center was largely abandoned and National only had 9 or 10 vehicles available. Thankfully a free night cert from One Two Free got me a $6 rental to Phoenix. Not bad.

Picking Up the Tesla

Tesla service center in Scottsdale, AZ. My car is not picture in this photo.

Being out on the open road was fantastic and before long we were in Phoenix at the Tesla Service Center where I picked up my 2014 Model S social distancing style. Everything was completed ahead of time so a few signatures was all it took to get my new car and employees all wore masks. Why did I get a 2014? Well, I got a great deal and decided to save the money over going with a newer model. My car only has 30K miles and was in better condition than most 2016-2017 vehicles I was looking at. I have learned a lot about scoring a deal on a used Tesla this past month and I’ll do a write up about my experience soon.

After picking up the car we headed to a hotel for the night. It was simply too late to drive back and so we booked a Hyatt of course! 🙂 My favorite Hyatt in the area Andaz Scottsdale was very expensive, so I opted for the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch. It’s a Destination Hotels property, giving me another brand on my quest towards another Hyatt Brand Explorer free night!

Back to Hyatt Life – Similar But Different

Traveling During COVID-19
Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch was decent. Nothing fancy but we had a cool golf course view and it is very beautiful. Look for a review soon.

When we arrived at the property it was like walking into the twilight zone. There were glass barriers at check-in and staff was wearing masks, but none of the guests were. We largely avoided indoor areas with other people, but in several instances I saw no one wearing masks or any other protection. There was also a lot of comingling. It’s clear a large portion of the population is beginning to travel again and many/most of them don’t feel there is a danger.

As for the hotel, it’s pretty good. Hyatt has four large resorts in this area and this one seems like the lowest tier of all of the them. With that said my room was $92+ tax for the night so I wasn’t complaining. If I’m in the area and the Andaz Scottsdale is available for a decent rate, I’ll return there, but this was solid given the price.

Traveling During COVID-19 Felt Good, But It’s Not That Simple

Charging my “new” 2014 Tesla Model S at a supercharger in Wickenburg, AZ.

And now I have a confession to make. Well maybe not a confession since it’s in the title and up top, but let me just say how good it felt to be traveling. It felt satisfying to be in a hotel and to be on the open road. It was exciting to see something other than my own house for a change, but there is another side. We wore masks everywhere and socially distanced, but being around so many people indoors (especially unmasked people) caused some anxiety.

I know people who have strong political viewpoints about this are probably getting ready to chime in to either shame me for traveling or to tell me I am an idiot for being scared of people without masks. But the truth is I think many of you are probably in a similar position. I don’t quite know how anyone is so certain of anything at this point and for many of us travel is how we have chosen to spend great portions of our lives. We focus on earning rewards, planning trips and we thoroughly enjoy every moment of the experience so it’s important. Are you torn?

This Is A Huge Learning Experience

Traveling During COVID-19
The view from my hotel room at Ceasars Palace for re-opening night.

I concede that it is indeed possible the virus is weakening and everything is going to be fine, but also that the opposite could be true. Many medical professionals fear the spread will be even worse the second time around. We will have to wait and see. I am hoping for the best and taking caution in case things aren’t quite so rosey. And to be honest I don’t know what else to do. I traveled, but I don’t think I’ll be leaving again for awhile. That’s just my personal opinion for myself.

No matter what the outcome of all of this is and no matter what we ultimately learn about the dangers of COVID-19 when looking at it in the rear view mirror, I plan to look deeply and honestly at my opinions and beliefs during the pandemic and how they varied from the eventual learned truth.  I hope you all do the same as well. We will be better because of it.

Have you been traveling during COVID-19? Specifically have you gotten out recently since restrictions have been eased or lifted? Share your experiences below and your opinion. I look forward to reading what everyone has to say!

Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomerhttps://milestomemories.com/
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. Interesting review. I am perplexed that so many Americans refuse to follow common sense and wear a mask and social distance where possible. I live in Japan and everyone wears a mask. It is just assumed, no rules. We went to the Hyatt Regency in Hakone for a few days and found it very relaxing despite a few new protocols. They are limiting occupancy to 50 percent and no more breakfast buffet. The Shinkansen was almost empty. Staff and guests wore masks moving around and seats in the Living Room were more spaced.

  2. Thanks for a fine snapshot of what’s going on in the travel world. ALL of the evidence shows that masks and social distancing are a key to staying safe and containing the virus. And you are being really sensible about this. Compare NY and NJ and HI with Arizona, Florida, and Texas (where they are now running out of ICU beds). SMART people will understand that this virus has not passed and the pandemic is NOT over. Las Vegas and other resort locations have the potential to turn into “Typhoid Mary” states and could become a major generator of a second wave. The airlines must do better. All of the top medical experts warn that packed planes will result in more illness. CoVid-19 should NOT be a political issue. It’s about science. And while we must re-open, we must be smart and careful about it…unless we want to continue burying loved ones and friends. And remember, if we have to lock-down again, that will really kill the economy. Safe and Smart..it’s the way to go.

  3. Flew SWA TUS to LAS Monday morning, first flight anywhere since Feb. 29, about 60 people on flight. Flew back this morning, Wednesday, 20 on flight. No issues, asked to wear a mask, no big deal. Airports sparsely crowded, parking lots the same. In Vegas downtown the during the time, most casinos took temperature as you entered, chairs were at every other slot, table. If you wanted to sit with your spouse/friend, you had to move a chair over. All employees wore masks, all restaurants offered immediate seating and service. It was like “off season”. Walking on Fremont Street was like at 5AM during normal times, few people. If crowds turn you on, wait another month, otherwise, pretty quiet right now.

  4. I enjoyed reading your column and completely relate to your feelings. The only travelling I have done so far was to go camping which I have not done in over 10 years….Not sure if camping even counts as travelling.
    We went to Big Bear, CA. Felt very safe at the campground since the campsites are far apart. The shared restrooms were clean and I used hand sanitizer and washed hands every time I went (would have of course even not in Covid times..) Very few people wore masks at the campground. Going into town was a different story. Very few people wore masks, no social distancing, bars and restaurants all open and it felt very crowded. I did not feel comfortable there at all. Am not planning any flying anytime soon but am considering more road trips that might include a combination of camping and hotels.

  5. Thanks for the write-up… Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion and view of the world, but COVID-19 does not discriminate.. If it’s any indication, all of my physicians friends (me also, a physician) are taking the utmost precaution. While many infected folks will recover or even be asymptomatic, you could potentially be the transmitter to your family, friends, neighbors unknowingly. Be careful out there.

  6. I have never commented on antlything, but this time i have to. As a medical professional working in the hospital, i have to BURST the bubble of all those that think that they night be hanging out or standing next to or sitting on a airplane does not have COVID 19. Many, snd i mesn Many have tested POSITIVE AND HAVE NO SYMPTOMS. I REPEAT, POSITIVE AND HAVE NO SYMPTOMS. I urge people to think of others for once and fo the right thing. I LOVE to travel I go at the drop of a hat. But i am being cautious. I have to take care of POSITIVE patients with NO SYMPTOMS. No one knows whsts next, just wash hands, wear mask and be safe. You vould be saving th eff life of your love one.

  7. We took a trip to Florida from Phoenix a week ago. I was very impressed with Florida. The resort only allowed up to 50 % occupancy (although they did sell day passes on the weekend) and they allowed 48 hours to occupy a room after a guest vacates for deep cleaning. All staff wore masks (even the staff that managed the beach chairs/equipment and pool servers).
    The restaurants were all spaced out and social distancing is required. Most restaurants are not able to be at full capacity and all staff are required to wear a mask. I can see why Florida has been successful versus Arizona based on their requirements for reopening.
    The flights were mostly over sold or full. Everyone was required to where a mask on the plane and there is no drink service. The Charlotte airport was packed- no seats even in the corridors or gate areas. The restaurants all closed with yellow tape everywhere. Only fast food was open. People were taking chairs out of closed restaurants to find a seat. It was a circulation nightmare. They need to open up the restaurants so people can actually sit somewhere. All other airports had a small amount of restaurants and stores open and ways to social distance except at boarding time.

  8. I’m happy to see that so many people commented here without feeling the need to denigrate those who have an opposing view (whether staying home or travelling). How refreshingly civil! There was that one use of the word “ninny,” but I’ll just ignore that….

  9. Thanks Shawn. Getting ready to start travelling again. At this point I too believe the worst is past. I have met many that have survived the virus. We were told we would all get it at some point. Those who have already been through it don’t need to have a mask. I think if we all act responsible – which means to me that if you get a fever isolate yourself! – we can get everything back to normal. I miss all my friends I see on the road.

  10. I flew to Virginia this past weekend. 4 flights with a connection in Charlotte going and the return through DCA. The flights were pretty much pre-covid, people without masks, enjoying the flight, drinking, etc. Clearly those traveling right now don’t believe the threat of catching covid19 is an issue. The Charlotte regional jet gate area was a zoo and I’d say only about 25% of people (passengers, crew, workers) were bothering to wear masks.

    I’m flying to NYC in 2 weeks time and I am enjoying the low flight loads and generally quiet airports. All the ninnies can stay home for another year as far as I’m concerned.

  11. Took a recent coronacation to SW Utah with my daughter. Had a great time. Never wore a mask and few others did either. I tend to avoid people who lick me or sneeze directly into my face. I also don’t shove my fingers in my eyes and nose. Washed my hands often…which people should have been doing long before COVID. So, overall I’d say my fear level was just about zero. If you’re concerned, by all means stay home. Leaves more room for the rest of us.

  12. As much info about the Tesla purchase as you are willing to give please! I would like one but cannot justify purchasing a new one. I didn’t realize there were a ton of used on the market.

  13. OMG…I was looking at used Tesla cars online before reading your post!! Congratulations!, I’m jealous Can’t wait for your Tesla post soon!

  14. (1) Phoenix-area ICUs are full or near capacity, so please be safe.
    (2) Next time you’re in Scottsdale, just stay at my place. Not as snazzy as a Hyatt, but still fun.

    • Thanks. I did see Phoenix cases spiking. We steered clear of people as best we could so I’m hoping we’re okay. It was a quick trip down there, but maybe next time we’ll do a meetup if there is enough interest.

  15. I am truly appalled at what Debit stated unless he was being ironic. We just arrived today for a stay-cation at Paseo in Huntington Beach, not because of Covid19 but I had a major water leak in my condo and we needed to vacate so they could fix it (I live in Santa Monica). Check in was easy, with minor changes at a very upscale hotel. No one to help with luggage, but the valet got us a cart. The front desk was masked and gloved. The pool and jacuzzi are open but no one was wearing a mask. Pool chairs are binded together in twos but not 6 feet apart (more like a few inches). Lots of sanitizer stations, including in the room. It feels relatively safe so far.

  16. I had to cancel two vacation trips because of the COVID-19 airline issues and events being canceled. I was unhappy I didn’t even get a full refund for my airline just credit. However, I just got back from Myrtle Beach and it was great to be away from New York. People there were not that concerned about social distancing or wearing a mask except The workers who had to. There’s plenty of room on the beach for social distancing and their numbers are down statistically they never had as bad of a problem as the rest of the country. They’ve had great weather and the beaches are very clean and spacious. It felt wonderful to sit down and have a pizza and a beer! Go out to breakfast, dinner, shopping, All the things we used to take for granted that we haven’t been able to do for 3months. I soon as I go back to New York Anxiety set in because we had to wear masks and I can’t breathe with them on

  17. I love Vegas and was disappointing to see the lack of social distancing in the casinos. I was hoping to be able to travel there soon, but everyone has to do their part to reduce risks and unfortunately many Americans do what is good for them alone. My sisters neighbors are COVID positive, but because they dont feel that sick, they started to go out again after one week. Its infuriating. Rates of infection are still going up in several states. I am happy Vegas is coming back, but for all our sakes we need to stay vigilant and keep appropriate distance. Congrats on the car.

  18. I have made 2 trips since the stay at home order was lifted in N.C. I went to a S.C. beach for 4 nights once their restaurants opened for dining (and to walk on the beaches) and last weekend took a trip to the Harrahs casino in the N.C. mountains.

    In both cases I felt fine and am thinking about a road trip to Jacksonville since their poker rooms are open. I wear a mask where required, keep distance and use a lot of hand sanitizer but don’t have any problem traveling

    There are people terrified of travel or the thought of COVID and that is fine for them to stay hunkered down however many are starting to live life again which is required.

    Not only does the virus appear to be weakening somewhat but there are also better treatments. Also the CDC stating it is difficult to get from surfaces and just today the WHO staring it is extremely rare for anyone to get the virus from someone, even if they are infected, with no symptoms should further allow a practical return to a more normal life. Yes the virus is transmitted person to person but typically from someone with symptoms so health checks and temperature checks are much more important than social distancing or masks (both were due to risk of transmittal from someone without symptoms) and this is a major change that could relax some of the current restrictions.

  19. Good for you. I’ve traveled from KC to St. Louis, KC to Denver and KC to Phoenix in the past couple of months. All road trips in my Porsche 911 🙂 Except for a few crazy people in New Mexico it was all fairly normal. Sure the stores, hotels and restaurants require the employees to wear masks but like 98% of everyone else isn’t. Oh and most of the hotel swimming pools are closed or have reduced hours. I guess because no one read the memo that clorine kills viruses and a pool is more dangerous to virus spread after 5pm?

  20. Good for you Shawn! I personally can completely understand exactly what you are saying. I’m ‘itching’ to get out of the house, yet at the same time, I found myself in a store that I don’t usually go to recently (near my home, no less) and the anxiety about it made me uncomfortable the entire time!

    Please do the write up about scoring your Tesla deal, I’m looking forward to reading about it!


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