Travel used to be so easy. That’s all I think about these days. All we did, was plan where to stay, what to do and zip off to some amazing location. Life was simply too good, for a lot of us, who love to travel, wine and dine.
Who would have thought that even the best laid plans can go awry, when we first encountered the fear of the dreaded Corona Virus, some months back. I remember discussing so many travel plans; some with friends, some with family and looking forward to them all.
But before anything else, Covid took over and the subsequent lockdown and quarantine and life has never and can’t ever be the same again!
The first time I travelled this year, after almost 8 months of being cloistered at home, was in October, to see family, back home; on a trip that can only be deemed urgent and necessary. No way would I take the risk of air travel, if that wasn’t the case!
It was stressful and paranoia inducing and the lack of social distancing on flights, made me swear off trips by airplane, at least until this whole Corona nightmare is over.
But then again, never say never! This month, under pressure from the kids and our desire to fulfil the wishes of my elder one, whose birthday it was, we succumbed. So once again, I was travelling. Except, this time, it was a road trip, to be precise. And which I feel, is the way, most of us will be traveling till Covid is dead and done with.
The reasons are simple: one it makes much more sense to travel in your car, with all necessary precautions and sanitization . Two, because you’re on the road and have a choice to not associate with other fellow human beings or eat at public places like restaurants, you are much safer. The third and final reason being, road trips are really our only choice to holiday in these times, fraught with a disease whose cure is still on its way to us. There’s not much choice and it’s the trendy, healthy thing to do now!
I must say, with all honesty that I was looking forward to a break too, from mundane life, from struggling to write, with such limited time in hand, to managing the home and kids classes and my latent talent bursting forth with endless cooking discoveries, from the four walls of a home. After a point, everything seems boring and we all wanted a holiday, desperately!
We settled for a six hour road trip to a place we had been plenty of times, a familiar hill station. And truly, it was one of the best things we did, this disastrous year. Of course the fears were there, not to mention scores of well wishers or doomsdayers who could be either right or wrong in their caution. Only time will tell.
We looked at many properties; places we’d stayed at before; places friends had recommended and yet didn’t really settle down to finalizing anything for a week almost before our vacation dates loomed large. We had to plan it out fast, as we didn’t want to go when the actual festival holidays would start and there could be a chance that hotels would get crowded. We didn’t want that, not at this time of the year and the current crisis.
After much debate, we settled on a somewhat old, impressive and huge property, in terms of expanse and area since we were not looking to fraternise with co-travellers. We simply wanted a good holiday in peace, with minimum interaction with people. So, it was the Jaypee Residency Manor in Mussoorie that we headed for.
And though we were anxious too, here’s what I found:
Travel, if you must. Go on a holiday. Destress by all means. Don’t feel guilty about wanting or needing a break. Don’t be coerced by what everyone else thinks of you, holidaying in these times; do your own thing.
Go on a road trip. Try to avoid air travel if you can, unless it’s really urgent.
Pack your meals. All of them. Three of four; as much as you may need. Get a picnic basket. Stuff it all. Especially if you travel with kids, whose eating whims and fancies change as fast as the colour of the sky, that you’re gazing out at. Get the packaged snacks, the juices, fruits, anything but be prepared that you may need more than you ever did, on the usual road trip. This time, it’s all different.
I realised it was a life saver, as we kept continuously driving, without a halt for miles to go. For that essential washroom stop, try to minimize that as well and take the sanitiser, use it generously and mask in place, as you do.
If you’re traveling to Uttarakhand, as I did, I must warn you that there is a crazy bit of online paperwork that you must do. Even the hotels, before you reserve a room, make you dive into a lot of virtual Corona induced document work. And yet, when you reach the border when you are about to enter that state, all that work is rendered meaningless! Nobody checks your documents and you’re shooed off, as fast as you came!
On the way, at most little towns that dotted our way, it was not very surprising to see that people there were not wearing masks at all. Social distancing was also absolutely not possible for them. Perhaps Covid 19 had stopped bothering people in these areas or perhaps they had stopped caring. Either way, it is best that you and your family take the precautions yourself and always wear a mask and keep your distance from people. Better safe than sorry.
However, once we reached our destination, it was heartening to see that all safety measures were in place. Once we alighted, our luggage was sanitised thoroughly, our temperature taken, checkins were done via phone. And then we were escorted to our rooms with the staff maintaining a safe distance. The hotel had around 50 percent occupancy, as a staff member told me and that was really the saving grace.
The days flew by quickly; we had hot fresh meals, beautiful pleasant weather, amazing views of the mountains from our sun facing rooms, spread out into a large green area and the best of all was absolutely no contact with anybody. We spoke with our servers on the phone, rooms were sanitised when we were outside and we had silent service.
We even got ambitious enough to go out for lunch at a nearby hotel, where too, safety measures were in place and we lunched under a blue sky, with cool fresh mountain air, in the middle of a forest area, with attentive servers, catering to us. It was actually bliss.
When it was time for us to leave, we wondered why we hadn’t gone on holiday sooner. It wasn’t that scary after all.
We promised ourselves we’d come back for another holiday soon, Covid or not. Who doesn’t need a break? And life has to go on.
Make your peace with that!