Are you ready for a beach trip or outlet shopping? As a family we enjoy traveling—yes, with young children at times it can be challenging, but the memories made are worth it! With the recommendations of Dr. LaCroix in mind we set out for Hilton Head last weekend for an overnight trip. I was a little anxious about how it all would go and probably stressed a little too much over it than I should have, but we did end up with some great pictures and laughs that I know will be stories told around the table or at moments we don’t exactly anticipate the stories popping up.
Like the time I always like to remind my mom about speeding off at a stop sign (with all 5 of us in the car) only to realize she had left the car in reverse after stopping a little too far in the road at the stop sign initially. I won’t repeat the words said immediately after this incident by my mother, but we were all glad there was not another car waiting behind us. At the time it was not so much a funny or valued story as it would become in the past few months especially since her passing.
Anyhow back to our recent trip.
We prepared the vehicle with masks, hand sanitizer, and luggage as if we were staying a week. With a toddler, we have officially entered the squealing phase of the entire 3-hour road trip—which my husband’s totally eclectic song list was our saving grace since the baby loves music. We made it to our hotel, right on the beach, unpacked, and headed out to the sand. We arrived on the beach at about 6:30 pm and had a good two hours of fun with the kids. By fun, I mean watching like a hawk to be sure a shark didn’t make a meal out of one of them (because yes, the way things fell we were there at prime shark feeding time), had a death grip on the littlest because he was super fascinated by everything (the sand, water, and anything he could put in his mouth), and were constantly telling the only girl of the bunch that we couldn’t do anything about the wind blowing her hair—because we were at the beach.
Eventually, we found our rhythm and the kids were playing together. We took a walk and found several jellyfish, a very unique crab, and hundreds of tiny clams. We emptied the bag of sand toys that we had purchased at Walmart just moments before and the kids proceeded to slither, pour, pack, and wallow in all of the sand. Successfully driving our parental OCD over the edge we watched with smiles on our faces while they played to their heart’s content.
When the kids were sufficiently covered with sand and nearing 8 pm we made the call to rinse off in the ocean and start to head back for baths and call it a night. Well prepared and thoughtful me, figured while I bathe the children we can have a pizza delivered and they could eat and go to sleep. They had played hard and this would be our downtime once they went to sleep.
Oh, but no— life finds away and this was not in the storylines. First off the rinse—turned into many rinses as they ran back to play in the sand once we got one rinsed off—and we were on some tortuous merry-go-round of getting our kids together to leave the beach. We finally did get everyone to the hotel and in baths, but the pizza never came…. never…and on quarantine with early closings of everything, we were out of luck.
My saving sanity’s grace was that the next day we were headed to the outlets for shopping and on a Forrest Gump mini-tour down in Savannah.
With a considerable number of people out and about these days things seemed to be getting back to normal—but we are still far from normal or normal as it used to be that is. The honest reality of it is that normal will never be normal again. There will be significant changes in our daily lives for a very, very, long time. They don’t have to be bad changes, but they are ones you need to be aware of to navigate—at least with a little bit less stress on your next family outing.
If you are headed to outlets you should know every store has a different policy from the number of people allowed in the store, hand sanitizing, or wearing a mask before you can enter the store. Even as some are opening most shops were still closed and a guard told me the center was running at less than 50% of retailers at the moment with no set date to get everyone opened back up.
I was particularly interested in going to the COACH store. I absolutely adore the unique and very traditional pieces of the different lines, but mostly shop the 70% off discontinued section. When we arrived at the shop my children began to whine and whimper because they don’t think that store is a “fun” store. But as approached the door the light looked dim and there was a sign on the door. I just knew they were closed, and I would not be making a purchase today. Upon closer inspection of the sign though it had a detailed plan for what I would term quite literally, “window shopping.” You had to call the sales associate on the number on the window and tell them what items you would like to see, she would bring them to the window for your viewing and once your selection was made you would process your purchase over the phone and they would slide the bagged items out of the door. Absolutely no contact between the customer and the staff. As I waited at the window reviewing my items and making my purchase several other people approached the store and I relayed the special shopping procedure. Many at first glance thought they were closed as I had assumed, before reading the sign. I was surprised as to how many walked away not willing to make their purchase this way but would join a line of 20 people to wait for their turn to shop in the next store.
To me the shopping experience was a win-win. Mommy got her new Disney themed tote bag at a steal of a price and no stress of having to tell my kids over and over again to not touch anything in the store. Almost as easy as ordering online, but I received my merchandise immediately. No porch pirates to worry about, no lines, and no unhappy kiddos—my kind of shopping!
What I learned from our first overnight trip out during this Covid-19 crisis might help you out as you plan to head out as well:
- Go prepared with Dr. LaCroix’s recommendations in mind. Hand hygiene, masks, and be aware of your family unit at all times.
- When staying in a hotel with an elevator—no one else outside of your family should share that small space. We had to station a parent at the entrance of the elevator to ensure that no one else would come in. Several people were already understanding of the space requirements and we had all lined up about 6 feet apart to wait for our turns, but between floors others tried to jump in. It is extremely awkward to say “I am sorry you have to wait”, but you have to protect your family. I noticed when my husband stood at the front of the elevator and we spread out—most people took the hint that there was not any room and didn’t even try to impose.
- Take snacks and toilet paper with you! Remember everything is on a varied schedule with days open to shortened hours—we would have been out of luck eating that night when our prepaid and tipped, pizza never arrived–except we had purchased snacks at Walmart. Yep, a fun dinner that night–at least the kiddos thought so!
- Back to the masks—Walmart was absolutely packed. We had to circle several times to get a spot—there was definitely not a 6-foot barrier being observed. Mask up in tight quarters and nominate one parent to do the shopping. This worked for us not only as a virus precaution but also limits the “I wanna’s” past every toy or candy aisle.
- Probably the most valuable thing you can do to save both time and gas is to use your cell phone—call ahead everywhere you go! There are different hours as well as policies and procedures as to mask requirements and the number of people allowed into an establishment. Be prepared to be flexible, patient, inconvenienced, stressed, surprised, and thankful for the ability to move freely about our state that some places are not quite able to do yet!
At the end of the trip, we had an amazing time—we were together, we got some great photos, we got to see some amazing animals and creatures—and we got to appreciate the beauty of just being a family in our beautiful state!
Get out and adventure—so much is awaiting us Greenville—just go prepared.