Victoria’s Secrets: Traveling in a COVID-19 World

My Delta flight to Sarasota left middle seats open for extra protection against COVID-19.
My Delta flight to Sarasota left middle seats open for extra protection against COVID-19.
Reuters

This, too, will pass.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has raged on for a year, I feel a celebration is in order, as the vaccine is helping to keep the virus at bay, which allows us to be social again!

Seeing my friends, relatives and clients without fear is part of the celebration, even if I have to wear a mask. Mask-wearing has turned into a fashion statement and it’s been fun acquiring so many stunning masks.

I have adapted during these difficult times. Formerly a “Boomer,” I am now a “Zoomer”, making multiple Zoom calls daily to stay in touch with my staff. With all of our offices closed, we are making sure to stay connected through Zoom!

I’ve acquired an electric blanket that I keep in my car’s trunk as an essential item, allowing me to make outdoor visits in the chilling cold and dine with my grandchildren, friends and family. I also carry a UVC Air Sanitizer device, feeling safer whenever I eat out.

Staying connected with friends and family is my lifeline, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to make sure we are all safe when we are together! While I have survived and pivoted how I live, do business and show love, I can’t wait for full body hugs to begin again! It’s been much too long!

I am lucky enough to be fully vaccinated—thanks to my daughter for helping me get an appointment!—and now that the vaccine gates are widely opening, hopefully everyone can get the “shots of hope” as we work to obtain herd immunity! Only then, will we truly be able put an end to this terrible pandemic!

But in the meantime, I decided that my bones need the warm weather. So I called my wonderful, loving stepson Jon Yunis and asked him if he’s in town the days I wanted to travel and, with a welcoming and resounding “yes,” I made my reservations.

I know that Jon is a member at the The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club in Sarasota, so I booked the hotel.

I learned that Delta, one of my favorite airlines, had a direct flight to Sarasota and, more importantly, left center seats open, so I booked it!

The Delta terminal at LaGuardia Airport fortunately was not crowded when I arrived at 7:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. flight. A friend had told me that when he traveled last, the terminal was mobbed, so I was ready for more contact than I’d like.

But I was prepared. I wore an N95 mask, a pretty heart-filled red and white mask and, as extra coverage, my daughter Samantha gave me a plastic shield that I put over my favorite navy blue NYPD baseball cap.

Additionally, I wore rubber gloves and sunglasses, as my friend Dr. Pete Michalos suggested. After all, COVID-19 is an airborne virus—he explained to me for the 10th time—so covering my mouth, nose and eyes was a must!

Fully covered in my COVID-friendly regalia, I made my way through security and did not let myself be distracted by the stores that had opened for early travelers. I did buy a bottle of water, but then remembered my “traveling tutor’s” advice for when I get on the plane:

  • Talk to no one
  • Sit alone
  • Do not eat or drink
  • Do not go to the bathroom

I’m a good listener, so away went the water bottle!

When I got to my seat by the window, I was happy to see Delta lived up to its commitment, as the center seats were empty! I huddled in the corner looking out the window as we seamlessly lifted off the ground into a picture-perfect blue sky with scarcely a cloud in view.

I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and have never allowed fear to stop me, but in a COVID-19 world, I was fearful!

I used to take an alcoholic beverage to calm my nerves before I flew, but many years ago, I had a frozen rum daiquiri  and my flight was delayed for hours, so I had another, and another and that was the ugliest flight of my life—I filled two throw-up bags! Boy did I learn my lesson! I stick to one shot of vodka as my limit!

I had always relied on my husbands to help keep me calm while flying—I’d squeeze their hands to the limit!—but I’ve learned how to keep myself calm when I fly alone.

My courage came when I was flying to a convention with the kind and brilliant Queens County Supreme Court Judge Angelo Graci and his wife Pat sitting next to me. Pat saw my discomfort as we were about to take off and she leaned over and said something I have never forgotten.

“Vicki, think of yourself as an air mail letter. Would you ever imagine it not being delivered? Today, you are an air mail letter!”

And you know what? It worked, and her calming advice has stuck with me ever since. I think of those wise words every time I take my seat in an airplane. Use them, too, if are uncomfortable flying!

The nonstop flight to Sarasota was going well and, when the pilot reported we would be arriving an hour early, I tried texting my stepdaughter, forgetting that phones don’t work while the plane is in the air. Lucky for me, she lives only minutes from the airport!

Little did I know, my next traveling challenge was about to begin! My friends who have traveled during the pandemic had advised me to FedEx my luggage to my destination so I could avoid waiting with a huge pack of people at the baggage claim and preventing my luggage from being handled by strangers.

That made sense to me, but my friend Gary Krupnick warned me to send it early because FedEx has been overloaded during the pandemic. Knowing I would be arriving in Florida on Friday, I sent my bag all tucked into a neat, bright yellow plastic bag on Tuesday.

To my great surprise, I found out upon arrival that my bags were delayed and wouldn’t arrive until Monday! Because I was advised not to put anything in the plane’s overhead baggage compartment, all I had was a small, rolling bag and my knapsack!

Fortunately for me, I’ve had some experience with lost luggage. When my kids Josh and Samantha were traveling with me to embark on a Caribbean cruise, our flight was canceled, so I ran like a nut to get us another flight so we could catch our ship before it left. Well, we made it on time, but our bags did not. But fear not—shopping was the answer!

Fast-forward back to now, Hilary and I made our way to the famous Saint Armands Circle, a wide, circular street filled with shops and restaurants. I had shopped at Oh My Gauze! years ago with my late husband Stu. I asked Hilary if it was still open and when she said yes, we went straight there to buy a few items to hold me over until my luggage arrived.

I was surprised and disappointed by the store’s staff’s unfriendly and cold reception. But I was happy to see the shop still in business and shared with a salesperson that I was still enjoying what I had bought there more than a decade ago! I don’t think they cared!

Meanwhile, the sun was shining and I was happy to absorb all its warmth! And nothing was going to deprive me from the pleasure of seeing Jon and Hilary and beautiful Jillian, who, as a third-grader, is a budding writer! Their company and the turquoise waters seen from my room’s balcony is a gift in these extraordinary times. What a treat!

Jon, Hilary and their daughter Jillian.

We must all find our own “treats” to get us through these challenging days!

The stunning view of the turquoise waters from my hotel window. 

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