Before I begin I want to emphasize that the decision to travel at this time is highly personal. While I encourage guests to make decisions based on facts rather than perception, it is also extremely important that you do what is right for you and yours. Look at the facts, speak with your doctor, and then decide if, and where, you want to vacation.
As restrictions begin to ease, thoughts are beginning to return to travel again. I have had several clients who are considering swapping their Caribbean beach vacations for something in the United States because they feel it's a safe option.
Is it really safer to plan your post-quarantine vacation in the United States?
Should you skip having your toes in the sand under a Caribbean sun?
Travelers seem to feel that the United States will offer them safer options but, in many cases, that doesn't appear to be true, especially when it comes to visiting the Caribbean. There are several factors we need to consider here. The first is the big bugaboo: Airplanes.
It's true that even in the best of times airplanes are germ factories. I am always extremely careful to wipe down all surfaces with disinfecting wipes even when we aren't in the midst of a pandemic. Airplanes are now probably cleaner than they have ever been as airlines employ strict sanitizing measures, install HEPA filters in the air systems, and require masks to be work by both employees and passengers. If you employ additional safety measures such as wiping down all surfaces and using hand sanitizer, you will minimize your risk. But, the reality is that there is more of a risk of infection in any enclosed space, so you have to be comfortable with flying.
If you aren't comfortable flying, then a driving vacation to a US destination is your best choice.
If you are comfortable with flying, then visiting the Caribbean may actually be a better option.
The United States has had over 1.5 million infections and over 90,000 deaths attributed to COVID19. By contrast, Jamaica has had 590 cases and 9 deaths. St. Lucia has had 18 cases and zero deaths. Antigua has had 25 cases and 3 deaths. Barbados has had 90 cases and 7 deaths. The list goes on from there.
Even accounting for differences in the population, the islands of the Caribbean have had much lower infection and death rates than the United States, overall.
The United States' reopening protocols are controlled on the state level and the restrictions and enforcement vary widely. Some states are under stay-at-home orders until June while others never issued them at all. Reopening requirements also vary hugely from state to state and, in some cases, county to county.
By contrast, the islands of the Caribbean have instituted strict reopening protocols that are enforced by their federal governments. Since the islands are much smaller, it's easier to enforce the regulations. Also, the islands are used to more heavy-handed governance than we are here in US, so the rules can be more effectively enforced and they are consistent throughout the country.
I live at the oceanfront in Virginia Beach. Our beaches are technically open only for exercise and fishing. Social distancing is supposed to be maintained and no one is supposed to be parking themselves on the sand. I can tell you, firsthand, that this isn't happening. While some people are following the rules, many are not or are looking for ways to get around them. Our boardwalk is packed with people coming within inches of each other, never mind six feet. There is no enforcement of the rules set in place by our governor.
This same scenario is playing out at many beaches across the United States and it will likely only get worse as we enter the summer season and we face the double whammy of the normal tourist season coupled with the reopening of the country. People want to get out and get to the ocean.
In general, the Caribbean beaches are less crowded, especially if you stay at one of the quieter resorts. The hotels are already spreading out the beach chairs to ensure social distancing and implementing a host of other protocols. Sandals and Beaches resorts have introduced their Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness, which are some of the most extensive I have seen to date.
I have seen nothing like it from an American hotel or resort.
So, should you stay in the United States for your vacation this year or head to the Caribbean?
If you want to drive to your trip, staying in the US is your only option as our borders with Canada and Mexico are currently closed, but you may want to avoid the crowded beaches. Luckily, there are are tons of great, open spaces, such as our fabulous National Parks, for you to explore.
If you are comfortable with flying, consider venturing a bit farther afield and visiting the Caribbean for your beach vacation.
In the end, it's up to you.
Want to discuss the options? I've got some great suggestions both in the United States and in the Caribbean. Contact me and let's chat!
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