"Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath it's shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning as it wakes every living creature that divides its day between waking and sleeping...
When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength."
~ Maria Montessori, Discovery of the Child
To say that this year was full of surprises is an understatement.
If anything, this year was the perfect time to teach children about the unpredictability of life. This was also an opportunity to teach kids about traveling responsibly and recognizing the impact of our actions to others.
It took us months of discussion and researching before we decided to find a place to celebrate Kara's birthday.
It also took time to find a place that is safe to go to with our bubble (people we live with). I probably reviewed 50+ different Air BnB spaces before deciding on Lily Vacation Farm House.
Here are some basic pointers, should you also decide to travel with your family:
1. Consider whether you are coming from or traveling to a coronavirus hotspot.
The fact is that, families could bring the virus to a previously unaffected community, or they could bring it back home to vulnerable family members. This is why, the first thing I checked was the case count from where we live (which was none), to the case count of the places I was looking at. Luckily, Jala-Jala didn't have any new cases for months. This was definitely a plus when it came to deciding where to go.
2. Check if people below 18 years old or those above 60 years old will be allowed to go through checkpoints leading to your destination.
I also checked the city level health regulations from the places we were looking at and secured the necessary travel passes for my family. We don't want to book a place only to find out later that my kids or my parents (who have been living with us since the lockdown) won't be allowed to get through checkpoints or stay at the place for rent.
3. Book an entire home with a functional kitchen (or in our case, we booked an entire FARM).
We absolutely wanted to avoid contact with other people outside of our bubble. And, I bought more supplies than usual — from towels and linens to water. We also cooked our own food and brought our own disposable utensils. The farm has an outdoor barbecue pit which was perfect for grilling.
4. Review their disinfection process.
Even before the pandemic, I was already the paranoid type. Cleaning doesn't mean germ-free and we have all sorts of UV Sterilizers at home. While searching for a place to stay, I asked each of them on how they disinfect and I really appreciate how Sharon (the manager of Lily Vacation Farm House) explained how they sanitize and sterilize the place to ensure the safety of their guests and their staff.
5. Avoid public transportation (or if you need to, avoid having the need to transfer from one vehicle to another).
This is one of the many reasons why we decided to find a place that we can just drive to (versus fly to). We also have UV Sterilizers for car use, we tried to cover our bases as best as we can.
Was it all worth it?
We think so. The kids really enjoyed having so much space to run around. They also swam from dusk till dawn and met with the animals in the farm. We also got to ride ATVs and had a chance to watch a movie with the whole family outdoors!
I'm definitely going to book this place again.