Traveling during the pandemic can come with its challenges, but it’s not impossible. In July, my friend and I took a trip to Denver, Colorado. While it had everything we needed for a quick getaway, it didn’t exactly pan out how we planned. If you’re planning a trip, keep reading to avoid the situations we didn’t know would await us.
1) The rental car
While flying to Denver would save us some time, I knew I wasn’t quite ready to hop on a plane amid the pandemic. With just an eight hour drive from Kansas City to Denver, a road trip seemed to be the next best option. My car needed some work done so we opted for a rental.
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know I’m a planner. Normally, I would reserve a rental weeks in advance, but that wasn’t the case this time. (A relative changed his mind about me renting his car at the last minute so I scrambled the day before our trip to make the reservation.) I got the confirmation number and thought all would be well, but I was wrong!
When we showed up at Enterprise at 9am to pick up the car, it was nowhere to be found. The rental company told me they had no more rentals and although I had a confirmation number, it wouldn’t help. They said I reserved the car after they had physically closed the day before and there were no employees there to actually confirm the car would be available. They told us we’d have to wait until at least 3pm! We would literally waste an entire day waiting to get on the road. I refused! I called around to other Enterprise locations until I found the ONE that had cars; KCI Airport. We hopped back in the car and drove 25 minutes out of the way to pick up the car in Kansas City North. By the time we dropped my car off at home, we’d already been two hours behind our initial schedule.
Tip #1: Plan ahead! Don’t wait until the last minute to reserve a rental and be sure to ask the rental company if they have plenty of cars available. We’d called three other locations before finding out the airport had vehicles. Also, if renting from an airport, ask about the additional fees. In our case, in-state renters were being charged more up front.
2) The destinations
Once we arrived in Denver, we grabbed a bite to eat and headed to our hotel to rest up. We knew we needed to get an early start the following day for plenty of hiking. Our destination of choice: Rocky Mountain National Park.
The following morning, we got up around 5am and headed about an hour northwest of our hotel to hike in the Rockies, but there was a problem. Due to COVID-19, access to the National Park was limited. It turns out we needed to make a reservation and they didn’t have anymore available. Who knew?! The park wouldn’t be open to people without a reservation until 5pm. This is where we were forced to get creative.
A park employee gave us a map with a list of other hiking trails outside of the park. We were disappointed, but we knew there was nothing we could do. We headed to the Kruger Rock Trail in Estes Park. It was initially challenging, but it was short and gave us a great view.
Tip #2: Do your research. While we enjoyed our trip and did three amazing trails in two days, we never returned to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Know what you want to do and where you want to go. Then, do a Google search or call to check for any changes due to COVID-19.
3) Mask mandate
Luckily, Megan and I were prepared for this one. We wear masks by choice and Kansas City, Missouri has required masks in public for months, but depending on where you’re from, this could catch you off guard.
Just one day before we arrived, Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued a statewide mask mandate. For the most part, everyone seemed to follow this rule. Even when hiking, we would put our masks on as another group was approaching and then removed our masks once the coast was clear. Most of the people we encountered gave us this same courtesy. It felt very much like an unspoken rule.
Tip #3: If you’re using cloth masks, pack enough to have 1-2 per day, especially if you’ll be doing outdoor activities. We had plenty to switch out after a sweaty day of hitting the trails. Also, consider masks that wrap around your head/neck, not your ears. This will keep you from having to hold it or take it all the way off after approaching other people.
Overall, remember to be flexible. If something doesn’t turn out the way you expected, don’t ruin your trip by dwelling on it. Make the necessary adjustments and have a good time. Happy Traveling! ✈️ 🚘
Have you traveled during the pandemic? Tell me about your trip in the comments.