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October 19, 2020 | Comfort level is key during a pandemic. 

Like many new parents who love to travel, Arlene Rowe, 37, had lofty aspirations for her infant son’s first family trip: Paris, perhaps, or Japan.

Then the pandemic hit, and Rowe, a law librarian, found herself juggling work and childcare—all within the same four walls of her Washington, D.C. home.

By the time she began to think about where she and her husband might travel this fall, their priorities had changed. Her parents were approaching their 40th wedding anniversary; her in-laws, their 45th. It had been ages since Max, now 10 months old, was hugged by a grandparent. She hadn’t seen her brother- and sister-in-law, who live near Seattle, since February. A plan was hatched: The family would spend 10 days at a rental in Lake Anna, Virginia, which Rowe found while hunting around for an easy getaway within driving distance.

“It was really just about taking the time to be with each other because that time is so precious,” she says. “We basically needed to cram a year’s worth of holidays into one vacation.”