Enjoying Florida in the New Normal
The rapid spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had an enormous impact on the vacation plans and travel activities of Americans and people all over the globe. With concerns about future outbreaks, the effectiveness of vaccines, and the reality that some virus strains can find ways to mutate, it is unlikely that people will quickly revert to their old habits.
I live in Florida, the only state that gets over 100 million visitors per year and is the home of the world’s greatest family entertainment complex of amusement parks and attractions. Walt Disney World and Universal may be opening slowly but with so many restrictions and limitations one may wonder if a visit is essential. And besides, visitors coming and going face the possibility of 14-day isolations.
As a person who writes about travel and history, I question what I recommend in selecting vacation and trip activities. What skills and options should I include? As a college history professor for fifty years, I tend to look at what might be long term trends and changes in our society and culture.
Let me state then the approach I will take in more and more of what I write and why I will orient my present and future writing. These may reflect some of the trends which I think may be more part of “the New Normal” in vacations and trips:
DRIVING TOURS and EXPERIENCES: I have always been impressed how European cities provide maps, guidance, and options for all types of people. My mother-in-law had health issues and little money while raising five kids so on the weekends she would pack a picnic lunch, take a full-day trip in the old automobile, sight-see and only stop if something met her criteria, and dine in a park.
I think many people will be leery about going to a restaurant or any attraction without observing the present options. Indoor activities such as museums, galleries, and even sporting events will be looked at in a different way than in 2019. Safety will join cost and value when I write about any spot in Florida.
The OUTDOORS and ECO-TOURISM, I believe, will become more popular and more important as an option to visitors and residents. A kayak or snorkel trip is a pretty safe choice for exercise and learning about your destination. Soft adventures like boardwalk tours and zip lines allow for social distance control in a safer setting.
Florida has one of the most diverse and best State Park Systems and it has been underused by a large segment of our tourist population. For every famous park destination, there are two or three park options that will be practically deserted on the weekdays.
INSIDER ADVICE in articles usually emphasizes the best food or the most popular attraction, but it should now include options and ideas that relate to health concerns. Long before the virus I told people that instead of standing in a luncheon crowd to get into a Walt Disney Magic Kingdom restaurant, take the monorail to one of the hotels or the boat to Wilderness Lodge for the lakeside patio restaurant by the Villas. Better meal, same price, and less crowded and rushed environment.
This summer I will inform you of several new e-books and PODs about Florida travel options, including the dates when these publications will be part of free downloads or reduced prices.