Marc Cuniberti: The economies of travel
In preparation for a couple of trips I had to make this month, I did some research on what to expect. Like some things in life, however, you just can’t find enough good information and actually have to undertake the endeavor yourself to find the answers. And I did.
After making two trips in a row this month, I found out a lot about traveling during COVID-19.
My first trip took me to Newport Beach down L.A. way, which by the way, is in and surrounded by the most heavily infected counties.
What fun this would be cornered on all sides by COVID-19.
Traffic to Sacramento International Airports was light. Indeed, traffic everywhere I went on this southern California trip was tolerable, especially considering L.A. traffic is usually nightmarish.
Upon arriving at our airport, we pulled right up at the drop off. No waiting whatsoever and only a handful of cars were there. Dropping the wife and kids, I headed towards the economy lots only to find both were closed. A fact that would have been nice to know ahead of time.
Had I known I would have used the many stay and fly hotels that offer free parking and a shuttle with an overnight stay.
No worries, however, as the day lot had plenty of space right in front of the terminal. The $29 a day fee took some of the joy out of the up close and personal parking spot.
The airport was empty. No one was at the ticketing booth, in fact it was difficult to find an agent. Once we did check in it was a breeze. The TSA security line was nonexistent to the point where we walked right up and got screened immediately.
Only a hundred or so travelers inhabited the entire airport where there once were thousands. Most stores and restaurants at the airport were open and masking was prevalent. No waiting was the norm for everything.
The plane was on time and seating was prompt. About 40 people were on the plane built for over a hundred. Seating was open but spacing was more than adequate between strangers. I understand now however passenger jet seating is becoming more tightly packed as airlines want to fill the few flights they are operating. I am told to now expect to sit right next to somebody but everyone is required to wear a mask on the plane. Bottled water and check-mix was all we were offered during the flight.
Upon arrival at John Wayne airport in Orange County baggage claim was a breeze. Again, this usually busy airport resembled a moderately packed ghost town. The whole thing felt like something out of the Twilight Zone.
Getting the rental car was eerily interesting. Most all the counters were vacant. Even though we had reserved a car, we wandered for 15 minutes looking for a manned budget counter. Turns out the agents weren’t in the actual airport but instead in the garage. Some companies were sort of combined so you had to wander around to find anyone who knew how to get your car.
It was even more confusing returning the car a few days later. We drove around three times being caught by one-way driveways with spikes in search of a live body to return the car to. Eventually we did find one person who was checking in cars for several companies. If you rent a car, be prepared to be diligent and don’t panic.
Newport Beach was fairly packed on the day we arrived but that slowed to a very dull roar as we entered the weekday. Many of the boardwalk shops and restaurants were closed, the employees and owners either not wanting to risk infection or taking advantage of the liberal unemployment checks and the current bonus. About half the people outside wore masks but inside buildings most did.
All in all, the trip was very odd. We got done what we had to get done and returned home. After 10 days had passed, none of us had contracted any illnesses. We were however very careful being in L.A.
Next week I’ll detail my trip to a destination resort in Reno I had to make. It was just as odd and gave me insight as to why, despite great prices everywhere, the amenities and reasons for going are so hampered and dampened down it might be better to set up a tent somewhere and chill by a campfire or just stay home.
It’s really not worth it.
Marc Cuniberti is an Investment Advisor Representative through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Marc can be contacted at SMC Wealth Management, 164 Maple St #1, Auburn, 530-559-1214. SMC and Cambridge are not affiliated. His website is http://www.moneymanagement radio.com.
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