International Summer Travel Takes a Hit

Above: COVID-19 has made lakes and parks the go-to vacation destinations this summer.


If you own a cabin on Clear Lake or Okoboji, you’re in good shape, vacation-wise. If you want to take the family to London to see the queen, you’ll want to rethink your plans, as the pandemic has completely shredded long-distance summer vacation plans.

Sitting in his office across Fleur Drive from the nearly deserted Des Moines International Airport, Rick South, of the Travel Center Ltd., summed up the summertime travel opportunities: “For the most part 2020 in travel is at a standstill, except for shorter driving.”

More than likely, he added, you won’t be able to use any international air tickets until next year: “Right now there is no travel outside the U.S. until all the [flight] restrictions are lifted.”

If you insist, you can fly from the U.S. to London. But once there―as well as just about any other foreign destination that will even accept you―you’ll face a week or two of mandatory isolation. The same holds true for Hawaii, said South; it has even arrested people for violating its health safety policies.

Domestically, flights are operating but at reduced levels. You still can fly to Las Vegas, where you’ll find casinos reopening at a reduced capacity. Ditto Orlando, where Disney World has proposed a controlled opening for early July.

For now, cruising is on hold through end of July, said South.

So, less expansive trips, to parks or to visit family members, seem to be the way forward. Olivia Howe Espinosa of Des Moines is finding that to be just how she and her husband, Josh, and their two daughters will spend a week or so next monthmore or less isolated at a cabin on a small lake in remote Minnesota that her father, Greenfield attorney Jay Howe, rents every summer.

If you want to get completely off the grid, yet enjoy the summer, consider a camping-hiking-nature jaunt out West, where populations are way sparser. There are plenty of dude ranches open, and national parks abound and leave room for social distancing.   

I also recalled the Dismal River Club, which is a top-notch golf course tucked into the middle of the Sand Hills of Nebraska. They’ve added a pool, a spa and horseback riding in recent years, so there is much more of a family feel aside from watching Dad swat golf balls.  

Contact them, at 308-546-2900, about becoming a member, first, and availability in their cabins. If so, you’ll find yourself sharing 1,000 square miles of pristine Sand Hills with an entire county population of 682.

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