For the past 100-plus days it’s been just me, and all of my personalities, living in my Manhattan apartment. I knew I was in trouble when a pigeon landed on my windowsill and I seriously considered letting it in. “Finally, some company,” I said to no one.
Like many New Yorkers, I’ve been desperate to escape the city, even if for only a few days. However, after a quick getaway to Rockland County, I was met with an ill-prepared hotelier and I experienced abject terror of everything — exposed meals, no hand sanitizer, unmasked strangers — I couldn’t control.
Getting out, New Yorkers are learning, is not always as pretty and as stress-free as the fantasy.
But many who can afford to are doing it anyway, renting cars and booking homes and hotels, somewhere, anywhere, in nature. Some are braving the trains; others the jitney. They are podding or going solo for a change of scenery, some taking day trips, others staying a week or even longer, mostly within New York state.
Here, five New Yorkers talk about their first trips post-quarantine. Would they do it again? It depends.
Couples comfort in the Catskills
After being cooped up with my boyfriend for three long months in Park Slope, Brooklyn, we escaped to the Catskills and stayed Monday through Friday in a cute hotel, The Graham & Co., to breathe fresh air. I found the place on Insta, which is my Google. It looked great and offered an unlimited amount of nature. Woodstock was too trendy and too populated. This was a clean, newly renovated, two-bedroom with a full kitchen so we could cook our own meals if we didn’t want to be around people. That was key.
The first morning at the property we woke up at 11 a.m. Everything was peaceful. There was a pool and a hammock. We rented a car through Hertz. I was not going on a train. It was the first time I’d been in a car since quarantine. They disinfected the car and sealed it so we were the ones that broke the seal on the door and that made me feel better. We read, hiked, went sightseeing. We barely saw people, which made me less anxious. I came home feeling revived and creative. — Makeda Saggau-Sackey, 36
A single woman extends her stay
I woke up one morning panicked and thought, “I need to get out of here.” My body was vibrating from anxiety.
Living alone on the Lower East Side is usually fine, but it has been hard during this time because I’ve been doing everything on my own. I started to worry more about my mental health more than my physical health. I’d never booked an Airbnb before. I got on the computer and I found a place in Hudson, N.Y., that had its own entrance, private garden, was clean and the owner had great ratings. He also disinfected with a UV light.
I was nervous taking Amtrak, but I’m a little bold. I have the antibodies. In the 20 years that I’ve lived here, I’d never seen Penn Station or the train so clean. Everyone wore masks. I wiped the seat down. We sat one person per row. The trip lasted only two hours. It was close enough to Manhattan that if Amtrak shut down I could rent a car and come back. Within the first hour my body stopped vibrating. After two days I extended my stay for a week, went home, got my computer and my cat and came back to the house. — Colleen McCarthy, 48
A taste of summer for the children
I am a wedding planner and a single parent to three children, a 7-year-old son and twin girls who are 6. I’ve learned about cabin fever. Most of my couples moved their wedding to next year, so money has been especially tight. I couldn’t afford Airbnb so I posted on Facebook to see if anyone had a second home they were not using during the week and who would let us crash at their pad. I got incredible responses: 12 were solid leads.
We ended up staying in Garrison, N.Y., at the home of a woman I serve on the board with at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. It was a five-bedroom home with a pool and playground. We stayed four nights and five days. They were so generous. They let us stay there for free. I paid for cleaning fees and made sure it was perfect when we left. The kids loved the pool; it’s what they associate with summer. In four months it was the first time they didn’t have to wear masks outside. We took the train from Grand Central. We’re going to do in again in August. — José Rolón, 44
Anxiety by the bonfire
I had been podding with my family, my husband and our two boys, with neighbors and their children. A friend found the Royal Atlantic, a hotel in Montauk. As long as it was clean I was open to going, even though I knew I’d end up wiping everything down, which I did. Only the moms went with our children, five in total. We had two bedrooms and shared a living room.
At the beach there were lots of 20-somethings who were loud and playing beer pong. No one was wearing masks. We went out to eat, which was nice. Afterward we went to John’s Drive-In for ice cream, and too many people standing in line were too close. Later, there was a bonfire on the beach, which is run by the town. We sat far away and went in shifts.
When I got home, I realized I wasn’t sure if it was the best thing to have done. I might not be ready. I’m a traveler, but not now. I don’t think I’ll be doing it again. — Lauren Dimet Waters, 52
I’ve always loved taking road trips; it’s why I bought a jeep in 2012. It has 52,000 miles — all of which are from the open road. My fiancée, Lara, didn’t want one at first. She said we have subways, Ubers and buses. But since Covid-19, the car has given us freedom and independence. It’s your own traveling room.
Last week we went to the Babcock Preserve in Greenwich, Conn. It was 300 acres of green, which felt great to be in. It was our first day trip. It didn’t cost anything to go, it took less than an hour to get there and there were hardly any people. We got to bring our Pomeranian. We walked the trails. It got us out of our apartment box. We didn’t have to wear our masks. It was very liberating. Trips like this are the new escapism. We had lunch in town and walked around; some shops were open, everyone was eating outside. It almost felt normal. — James King, 41