Travel Prep

Did you know people are making their own hand sanitizer?

As I walk home from work I see a familiar red baseball cap coming toward me. Could it be my husband? I wait until I’m sure before I give him a kiss. Why are you meeting me? I ask. Does this mean we have a Friday plan?

Yes, he says, CVS and then to the car and to Ellie’s. Ah.

Our daughter Ellie is traveling tomorrow morning to Cuba to present at a conference. It turns out she has been asked by her host to bring hand sanitizer. Travelers to Cuba are used to taking Tylenol, and such, to leave for people there. And now the world has Covid 19 of course. But Ellie has not been able to find any hand sanitizer to buy.

My husband and I split paths, me to Target, him to CVS. We both strike out. Not only is there no hand sanitizer, they are also all out of its ingredients. Apparently you can mix rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel to make it. But still no go- surrounded by a plethora of products, those labels on the shelves are vacant holes.

But we go to Ellie’s and discover other ways we can help. She wants another copy DVD of her film. (For the third contingency plan, in case other ways to show it fail.) We have one at our house. We offer to save her a trip to her workspace by printing and copying some documents while we are home looking for the DVD. Maybe find a universal adapter, another contingency, “just in case” item. She’s in a situation where she relies on the technology but can’t count on what will be available. (And she is a preparer, the one that takes responsibility, and I am proud of her for it.)

So we drive home, search an embarrassingly long time to find those things, put some dinner food and travel snacks in a bag for her, and drive back to her place.

Where we hang out awhile while she makes calls about visa rules, and whether her passport is too close to its expiration date. (Cuba allows you in as long as the passport is valid. Some countries won’t if your passport has less than six months remaining. Like many frequent travelers, she has forgotten to look at hers recently and it expires the end of the month, less than two weeks after her return. But that’s OK. Unless she gets quarantined for Covid19, then what? We decide not to go there.) Worries about her professional wardrobe. And taking money. You have to take cash to exchange. And she needs time to figure out another computer- she won’t be taking hers.


As we leave I glance at a paper we had printed out for her. It looks like recommendations, from a friend who knows Cuba:
“Hotel de Inglaterra has a little red bus that goes each day to the beach $5.
Drumming thing at night in Havana Viejo.
Vinales pinal del rio- a little town in valley. Tobacco tour. Knock on a few doors to find a place to stay.”

Ah, Cuba. I am happy for her. After all this anxiety, there will be fun.

4 thoughts on “Travel Prep

  1. Wow! I didn’t realise there was a hand sanitizer shortage out there. It makes sense but I hadn’t even thought about that. It sounds like she is a very prepared person, I bet it will all go over perfectly!

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  2. How incredibly nerve-racking! I’m running out of hand sanitizer at school, so I also learned that you can make your own. Thankfully I was able to snag some isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel. I do wish your daughter the best; the tip sheet sounds fantastic.

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  3. What a way to spend your Friday night – rather frenetic! Your daughter is so lucky to have you and your husband running all over the place to help her. You are so lucky that she wants you to be part of all of this (even sharing her vulnerability regarding her passport).
    Loved the ending – it isn’t going to be all business and all worries, mom and dad.

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  4. Your piece shows how lucky Ellie is to have helpful parents. It shows how traveling, though fun, requires lots of preparation. It shows a very busy Friday! I hope her trip is a success and that your weekend is relaxing!!

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