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Sarasota Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020 5 months ago

Safe Travels: Sarasota locals give traveling advice

Sarasota locals give stories on how they’ve been traveling in an odd year.
by: Harry Sayer Staff Writer

Everything has risk these day. As the pandemic has continued, several locals have decided to brave the environments and find ways to travel always with an eye toward keeping themselves and others safe. Here’s a few on how they kept healthy while seeing the sights. 

Megan Micale

Megan Micale traveled with her husband Kevin and their children Luke and Connor to a number of states this summer, checking out a few outdoor areas. Courtesy Photo.

Micale has been on two trips this summer, a first road trip through Georgia, New Orleans, and Alabama, and then a follow-up through New York, Vermont and Washington, D.C. 

They were more lean, efficient trips, with Micale forgoing friends along the way. She and her family tested negative for coronavirus before heading out on their excursions. 

 Micale prides herself on packing smart and traveling efficiently, but this felt like a different situation. Micale was naturally concerned with COVID-19 conditions and finding ways to avoid risk. She figured avoiding most crowds and friends was the best way to keep safe. 

“I'm always really good at packing the car with food and stopping the least amount normally, she said. “But it was even more than ever not really stopping. So we just powered through and packed the car.”

It’s the little things Micale picked up on — fewer drivers on the roads, more parking. Her hotel rooms had everything wrapped in plastic, She wasn’t expecting to be able to parallel park in downtown D.C. and just walk around, but it was a pleasant surprise. Waits to see such popular stops as the Lincoln Memorial were much shorter. Micale and her boys walked right on up to Honest Abe and then kept it moving to the Washington Monument. 

“Everything just felt almost more clean than ever and less crowded than ever,” Micale said. “So you really kind of felt safer in a way.”
The driving was really what felt different for Micale — she says she felt free. She wants people to not be afraid of going on road trips, she says there are plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors in safety and awareness of the current conditions. 

“Although it was worrisome because of the coronavirus and circumstances, it was one of the most pleasurable road trips I've ever taken,” Micale said.  “…  I had the road trip experience with my children with something that I will never forget."

Heather Hawley

Hawley, a wedding photographer by trade, was supposed to have a busy summer. 

That obviously didn’t happen — every single wedding cancelled — but Hawley has noted a serious uptick in events in the last month or so. She’s been to Lexington, New Orleans, Ohio and Indiana in recent weeks to photograph weddings. 

Hawley has preferred taking flights during this time, as tickets have been cheaper and most airlines have strict masking policies. Some airlines are packing their travelers close together, but Hawley has noted they’ve offered a refund and ways to opt out if passengers aren’t comfortable. 

What’s been more of a challenge for Hawley is getting used to different state’s restrictions. Some areas, like Lexington, have more stringent closing times and masking times, and getting used to different guidelines can be a challenge. Hawley recommends people to know about where they’re headed and how the area will operate before they arrive. 

“It’s different everywhere,” Hawley said. “That's like the one thing that I really learned from traveling as much is to know where you're going and know the rules there. Figure out what you're comfortable as in what you're really wanting to do. If you're wanting to sightsee and go to parks, you're probably going to be great. If you want to go somewhere to check out the bars, you really need to pay attention to what state you're going to.”

Cliff Roles

Roles spent time outdoors in Zurch, Switzerland. Courtesy Photo Cliff Roles.

Roles spent much of his early pandemic months with his “Coronicals” photo series of Sarasota locals living in their new normals. 

But that eventually reached an end, and without the resurgence of in-personal philanthropic events, Roles found himself with time on his hands. What was a veteran photographer to do?

If you’re lucky enough to be in possession of a British passport, as Roles was, you can travel to a European country, which is precisely what he did. Roles recently returned from a seven-week trip across eight countries including Croatia, Italy, Austria, Germany, France and more. It was an eventful time, spent seeing old friends, new vistas, and some special time in Cologne, where he lived for nearly 20 years.

But the possibility of becoming sick and the consequences were always present for Roles. 

The secret, he believes, was constant testing and keeping away from large crowds. Roles would get tested at new locations along the way, both to satisfy the country's guidelines and to give himself peace of mind. He had racked up six negative COVID-19 tests by the time his journey was through. 

“This was ironically the best time to travel,” Roles said. “The planes were empty, the trains were empty, the hotels were empty …The ironic silver lining of this monstrous, horrendous disease is that I was able to travel in peace and quiet.”

Harry Sayer is the Black Tie Reporter for the Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and previously worked the Black Tie beat for the Observer newspaper in Winter Park and Maitland. You can catch him at one of Sarasota's fundraisers and shindigs. 

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