In quarantine on vacation. Nothing like safe travel with children during a pandemic

Kat Cosley and her family had flown about eight hours to Hawaii for a beach vacation, only to be locked in their hotel room by staff.

Cosley’s family, along with others, have been quarantined on a hotel floor. She still can’t believe it happened.

Like many parents across the country, Cosley and her husband, Frank Trigg, had hoped normalcy was on the horizon in July. That the pandemic was over and that we would soon be moving around like we did before all of this.

The couple, who live in Katy, booked a nine-day trip to O’ahu to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary with their two boys, Lathen, 5, and Frankie, 8, and Cosley’s mother, Margaret Cosley . The adults have been fully vaccinated; the boys were too young for the COVID-19 vaccine. Cosley said she followed protocol – uploaded their vaccination cards to Hawaii’s Safe Travels site, then made an appointment at a Walgreen store to have her children tested for COVID before the flight.

She couldn’t predict that Walgreen’s would run out of COVID testing, and she would be forced to rush her children to a reputable lab for the test just days before they left. The results were negative. But in Hawaii, authorities refused to accept the results, saying the test was not performed by a preferred supplier. The family were transported to their hotel, where they were quarantined in a downgraded room.

Cosley’s boys cried from the bedroom window, as they watched other children playing in the water outside. It’s mom’s worst failure, Cosley thought.

“The kids were so emotional. They didn’t understand why we had come all this way to be stuck in a hotel room. It was hard for everyone, but especially for the children, ”she said.

The next morning, Cosley and her husband spent an additional thousands of dollars on plane tickets for her and the boys to fly to Los Angeles for COVID testing, then return to Hawaii to recoup the remainder of the vacation.

The pandemic has made traveling, especially with young children, a monumental task. It’s not just about making sure they’re protected from germs, but also about being prepared for anything and everything to go wrong. Hawaii has the most stringent COVID entry requirements in the country under the Safe Travels program. To bypass a mandatory 10-day quarantine, travelers must show proof of vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 test from an approved provider, performed no later than three days before arrival.

“I was on top of everything,” Cosley said. “I had done my research and obtained the COVID tests in advance. From the moment I booked the tests it was all downhill from there. I’m thankful we had the money to fly to Los Angeles, but it was a lot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends delaying travel until you are fully immunized. If you are traveling with children who cannot be vaccinated, consider safer travel options, such as shorter air trips and limiting their food and drink intake to keep their mask on.

Yet there is no such thing as a safe vacation during a pandemic.

Although my recent trip with my children was not affected by the COVID protocol, being in a crowded airport with two young children caused enough stress.

It was their first plane flight, just days before the outbreak of COVID-19 cases in early August. We were on our way to Atlanta and I was determined to make it work. I had done my research, like Cosley, and ordered some quality masks and face shields and packed enough wipes and hand sanitizer. I also booked toddler car seats at the Atlanta car rental company to avoid checking our car seats as luggage.

The airport was packed with travelers, toilets were closed in many areas, and a hamburger and three small bottles of water cost $ 50. When I got to the car rental company at midnight, the car seats, which I had confirmed would be suitable for my previous days of 3 and 5, were meant for babies. I had no choice but to drive an hour and a half to my friend’s house with my kids strapped in adult restraints in the back seat, holding my breath so I wouldn’t get pulled over by the police or end up in a car accident.

The next day, I quickly bought car seats from Walmart and filed a complaint with the car rental company, who reimbursed me.

“Parents have had the craziest year, and navigating the trip is no different,” said Kristin Finan, co-founder of Austin Travels Magazine. “I booked a bunch of trips because we were so excited to be back on a plane and then canceled them once the COVID cases increased. Restrictions and protocol change daily. I try to make good decisions and listen to my instinct to travel.

Finan and her husband, Patrick Badgley, took their six children – ages 12, 10, 9, 8, 6 and 5 – on a road trip in a rented campervan to the Grand Canyon in 2020 to avoid the stress of air travel.

“It’s impossible to predict what will happen when you travel with children during the pandemic. At least as parents we all know we’re in the same boat, ”she said.

Our trip to Atlanta was a necessary respite to connect with former colleagues, family and friends. After a year of social distancing, I needed this interaction, and the kids enjoyed it too. Still, I’m not eager to catch another plane anytime soon.

As Cosley put it, “I’m pretty smart and thought I was above everything. But the stress of making sure you’re doing everything to prepare for a trip with kids during a pandemic is too much. “

His advice and mine: don’t travel now.

joy.sewing@chron.com


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