Every vacation or stay I’ve planned since March has been a victim of Covid. I know. Diddums.
My usual trips to my block in the French Alps have been canceled. A road trip to the west of France cost a failure. My annual pilgrimage to the luxury temple Hotel Cipriani in Venice had failed. A cheeky long weekend in Norfolk, deserted. And a walk to the lakes, postponed.
What a total mare. I am now wondering if I should even hope to leave or just come to terms with the fact that travel is a risky business before the vaccine is introduced.
I realize that the pandemic has seriously hit the economy and people around the world. With many deaths, prolonged illnesses, disruption to daily life, and business destruction, my demands for a vacation seem trivial.
Maybe, but I’ve been working every day since mid-February. Although I am full of energy and lucky enough to be busy, everyone needs to rest sometimes. My batteries need to be charged. This is the longest route that I have not traveled abroad since the 1970s. I long for a sunshine lunch that starts at 12 noon and ends at 2 a.m. That’s 2 a.m. the next morning. Wash off with fizzy and rosé.
The first lock taught us many things. Gardening is great fun. Owning dogs is essential. A house by the sea is epic. Working from home can be a joy. English fizz is delicious. And homemade products are fun and great to consume.
The second time it wasn’t that much fun. In part because the weather was terrible, outdoor activities and drinks were restricted over the fence with neighbors. It’s also harder to play, catching the popping cork in the dark. But my NHS app also called me on the third day of Lockdown 2.0. I’ve had contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus and had symptoms. Cue 10 days in self-isolation.
I can send and write from home. While I miss my shopping experiences to buy “essentials”, it is hardly the end of the world. With supplies, which I luckily bought in a panic last time, I enjoyed different types of baking and made a challah (Jewish braided bread) for the first time. I picked apples from my trees and baked apple turnovers. Not a wet bum in sight. And I picked the last crop of the season from my vegetable patch – Jerusalem artichoke.
If you’ve ever eaten one you will know the ferocity of the digestive system effects. Maybe they are the ideal food for lockdown? Under normal circumstances, you would not dare to leave the house. One could say that Jerusalem artichoke is a trump card.
Despite all of these horticultural and culinary activities, I still feel restless. We live with unprecedented uncertainty. There are so many worries in a post-pandemic world. Taxes will go up, but which ones? Which investments should I keep? Do I have enough money to do any work on my house that working from home made me realize that I need to do something? Should I be careful with money even if it burns a hole in my pocket?
That’s not the only “post” thing to think about. What about post 9 to 5 in the office five days a week? Will working from home still be a “thing”? Can I still hold Zoom meetings in my shorts? Or socks? Can I go out with friends for lunch or dinner? After all that, will there still be pubs? So many questions. That brings me back to the biggest question of all: should I book a vacation?
If an email falls through your mailbox, it is likely full of travel offers. If I could go to France, I could almost always get a return flight to Lyon for £ 50. Even BA is £ 100 (scheduled, return and including tax). It’s usually double.
Aside from the problems of Covid-19 and quarantine (and whether the ski resorts will even open), my apartment in the mountains is still not ready to welcome me back after a flood. My builder was unable to work, source materials, or make significant progress. So much for the convenience of having your own space. It would be worse if I relied on rentals to cover a mortgage or expenses. So I looked further afield.
I’ve been a fan of Antigua for many years. It’s relaxed and unstuffy. There are some lovely restaurants, great beaches, and it’s an epic vacation destination that’s within a travel corridor. In fact, it was the last trip I took before locking. So I’m thinking of booking again.
A two and a half week trip for weekend ski money. Can it be done?
I could give anything and inject the money. It’s a pretty nice thing to travel to the upper class and stay in a fancy hotel. And yes, I could flush the account at Curtain Bluff or Carlyle Bay for a week, drop £ 10,000 on a trip that typically costs £ 15,000 to £ 20,000, and be done with it.
But I want to go longer, explore the island and throw in some money on unforgettable trips. I’m neither a footballer nor a pop star, so the sums of money it takes to lead the high life for an extended hiatus cannot be justified. With the deals that are out there, I see it as a challenge. A two and a half week trip for weekend ski money. Can it be done?
Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t mind sitting in the wheel for a day flight. You can refuse to turn right, but the deals are so good right now that it might be worth the sacrifice. Last year an economy class ticket to the Caribbean would have returned you £ 900 including tax. This year? The cheapest I’ve found is £ 344 back. And with hotels desperately looking for your business, I’d rather put it in the cheap places.
I’m going to book a 16-night Epic for £ 1,500 and spend the money I’ve saved on renovations, including some snazzy Bert & May tiles and pieces of furniture by Timothy Oulton. This five-star interior lasts longer than a vacation. Maybe I’ll have enough spare to make some money and reserve a table for lunch in a dazzling Caribbean palace. Anyway, I only want the table until two.
James Max is a real estate expert and radio host. The views expressed are personal. Twitter: @thejamesmax. If you have a problem with James, contact him at [email protected]