Rising immunity and modest changes in behavior may explain why cases are declining, but much remains unknown, scientists say.
Virtual counseling has become the norm during the pandemic. Here’s how to decide whether it’s still working for you.
Why parallel play is good for grown-ups, too.
A short routine for right before bedtime.
Across the country, students are returning to classes. We connected with hundreds of them to see how they — along with teachers, administrators and parents — are coping.
Yes, exercise is hugely beneficial. But can too much of a good thing cause tension in your relationship?
Experts offer tools for re-entering the world of commutes and co-workers.
Adolescents are readying for the next step in a seemingly endless set of challenges. Here’s how to help them regulate their emotions.
The writer behind The Veggie talks about the meatless trend and what she envisions for the newsletter.
After a year at home, many families are seeking adventures far from it, whether for this summer or the coming year.
Experts share some advice about how to delicately approach topics like Covid vaccinations, mental health and sexually transmitted infections.
Whether it’s hot, healing or healthy, some singles have been dating differently this summer.
The pandemic has left hundreds of thousands of Americans alone in bereavement, unable to plan proper funerals for their loved ones. Now, they’re planning larger celebrations of life.
Workers want to have more control over their precious hours and avoid burnout. What if the secret is a calendar full of meetings as well as “me” time?
As pandemic restrictions begin to relax, common viruses that cause drippy noses, stuffy heads and other cold symptoms have roared back to taunt your immune system.
Experts offer guidance on indoor fitness classes and more.
As the second wave of coronavirus battered us in India, my partner and I found solace and pride in our stuffed animals.
Expert advice on how to gently offer help and compassion.
These shows will help you to appreciate your bond with your furry friends, learn more about how their brains work and navigate the challenges of spending less time with them as the world reopens.
In a period filled with relentless bad news, one silver lining has been the upward trend in pet ownership. Adoption and foster rates soared during the pandemic, as people sought furry friends to make their isolation more bearable. And despite alarmist headlines to the contrary, most Americans are holding onto their pandemic pets now that the country is returning to normal.
Whether you’re a new or longtime owner, these six podcasts will help you to appreciate your bond with your pets, learn more about how their brains work and navigate the challenges of spending less time with them as the world reopens.
If you’re one of those people who is physically incapable of walking past a dog without stopping to pet it, you’ll feel right at home with this charming show. “Can I Pet Your Dog?” has been delivering joyful canine content since 2015, in a weekly format that combines guest interviews, personal anecdotes and important dog news you might have missed. The hosts, Renee Colvert and Alexis Preston, aren’t just dog owners, but unabashed dog obsessives. Their infectious enthusiasm infuses every segment of the show — whether it’s an interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda about his rescue pup, a listener-submitted monologue or simply a story about petting a really good dog.
Starter episode: “Summer Goals and New Fears”
Despite being only slightly less popular than dogs in the United States (and much more popular elsewhere), cats often get short shrift. They’re routinely shut out of scientific research and caricatured as aloof and antisocial compared with man’s best friend. Enter “The Purrrcast,” a warmhearted safe space for cat people. Hosted by Steven Ray Morris (a longtime producer of the powerhouse true-crime podcast “My Favorite Murder”) and Sara Iyer, the show is primarily relaxed conversations between the duo and various feline fans. Some guests are well-known — Margaret Cho made a recent appearance to talk about her two hairless cats, Sarong and Sacre Coeur — while others are feline professionals, like a founder of a nonprofit cat cafe.
Starter episode: “Nature’s Belly (Cats We Saw on Vacation)”
Dogs and cats (and the sometimes-friendly rivalry between those who love them) dominate the pet ownership conversation so completely that there’s not much room left for other species. And while this show isn’t technically about pets, it’ll satisfy any cravings you might be having for more exotic animal stories. Each installment of “Species” focuses on a different, often highly specific, type of creature — recent highlights include the largest snapping turtle on earth, a rare poisonous bird and a butterfly that’s billed as “a Trojan horse and a Rube Goldberg machine wrapped into one.” The host, Macken Murphy, is able to condense vast chunks of information into engaging and digestible episodes, providing a holistic picture of each animal’s place within a larger ecosystem. Fact-filled and fun, this is an ideal choice to listen to with children.
Starter episode: “Bearded Dragon”
NPR has a podcast for just about everything, and one filled with heartwarming pet stories is no exception. With episodes clocking in at just two minutes, “Speaking of Pets” is an easy way to squeeze a little more animal content into a busy day, delivered in the soothing tones of Alabama Public Radio’s Mindy Norton. The show has been airing as a radio segment since 1995, and its topics range from grooming tips to the latest research on human-animal bonds. One recent episode touched on the dangers of leaving dogs alone in hot cars, while the next switched gears to tell the story of a war hero dog named Rags, who served alongside his soldier rescuer in World War I.
Starter episode: “Separation Anxiety in Pets”
Training is one of the most daunting aspects of dog ownership, particularly when adopting a puppy or introducing a new pet to established household animals. It can also be difficult to distinguish between “normal” bad behavior that’s easily corrected and deeper behavioral issues that need more attention. As its adorable title indicates, “Dr Dunbar’s iWoofs” offers bite-size audio tips on house-training, socialization, equipment and much more. A British veterinarian and animal behaviorist, Ian Dunbar has a palpable depth of knowledge, and on the show, he’s joined by his wife, Kelly, and son, James, in tackling listener questions and dismantling dog-training myths.
Starter episode: “The Myth of Intent”
If you think dogs are the only type of pet that can accompany you on your travels, think again. There’s a whole world of cat owners who take their feline companions with them on coffee runs, car rides, backpacking vacations and more, and “Catexplorer” has been telling their stories for eight seasons. The hosts, Daniel and Hasara Lay, give step-by-step guidance on how to train your cat (yes, really) and transition them into a life of exploration. They share anecdotes from their own feline adventures, coach listeners who are training their cats for the outside world, and talk to fellow “catexplorers” about their successes and war stories. Even if you’re not a cat owner, this quirky show is an uplifting eye-opener.
As vaccination levels rise and Americans head back to the roads and skies, sober travel, a subset of vacations once relegated to 12-steppers and recovering addicts, is going mainstream.
One year into the coronavirus pandemic, after months of gaining weight and feeling groggy, Mayra Ramirez stopped drinking. And this summer, she’ll mark a new milestone for her sobriety: a completely alcohol-free vacation.
Ms. Ramirez, 32, spent the first 12 months of the pandemic working remotely from a tiny Brooklyn apartment, drinking every weekend and many weekday evenings as well. In March, like many others during this hard year, she realized her drinking was spiraling beyond the merely social kind. She has now been sober for three months. So when she began scouting locations for a break with a few non-sober friends, she suggested Sedona, Ariz., where they all will hike and wake up early, and she will avoid potential pitfalls like nightclubs and beachfront bars.
Many Americans turned to alcohol to blunt the stress, isolation and fear of the past 15 months: An October study in JAMA Network Open, the journal of the American Medical Association, found that Americans were drinking 14 percent more than in the previous year. Now, as vaccination levels rise and Americans head back to the roads and skies, sober travel, a subset of vacations once relegated only to 12-steppers and recovering addicts, is going mainstream.
Ditching the drinks
In a June poll of more than 23,000 people by Branded Research, 29 percent of respondents said they planned to take an alcohol-free trip after the pandemic. Forty-seven percent of the respondents to American Express’s Global Travel Trends Report in March said that wellness and mental health were among their top motivators for travel in 2021, and an analysis of social media chatter from Hootsuite, a social-media management platform, showed mentions of the term “sober vacation” jumping more than 100 percent over Memorial Day weekend. Even airlines are going dry: After banning booze in the cabin in 2020, several airlines are postponing a return to serving alcohol thanks to unruly passengers.
“If you had asked me a year ago, it would have been impossible for me to think that I was going to stop drinking for good,” Ms. Ramirez said. “But the pandemic, being at home and just sitting with my thoughts made me flip a switch and say, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”
For the September trip with her girlfriends, Ms. Ramirez will stock the Airbnb fridge with nonalcoholic beer and act as designated driver of the rental car. To complement a new meditation practice that has helped with her sobriety, she has planned visits to Sedona’s supposed energy vortexes, which are said to help with meditation and healing.
“I had anxiety about planning the trip, because I’m newly sober and I knew it was going to be an obstacle to travel sober with other people who are not sober,” she said. “But my friends have been so supportive.”
Ruby Warrington, who published the book “Sober Curious” in 2018, has been fielding regular questions about sober travel in her eponymous Facebook group, where membership has swelled in the last year. She followed that book up in December 2020 with “The Sober Curious Reset,” a 100-day guide to rethinking your relationship with alcohol. Both of Ms. Warrington’s books have tapped into the global movement of “sometimes sobriety” that has been marked by trends like Dry January and #mindfuldrinking.
“The pandemic really shone a light on our drinking habits,” Ms. Warrington said. She herself quit drinking in 2016, and found travel to be the last and most daunting hurdle.
“Vacation drinking is definitely the drinking that I held on to the longest. It was the one hall pass I gave myself,” she said. “A lot of people have looked at their drinking habits during the pandemic and don’t want to go back to what they were. And they don’t want a vacation to get in the way of their progress.”
Close cousin to wellness tourism
Alcohol-free travel companies, like Travel Sober, We Love Lucid and Sober Outside, were organizing completely dry trips long before the pandemic. Now they’re seeing spikes in popularity: Steve Abrams, who founded Sober Vacations International in 1987, said trips for next year are nearly sold out. “I think we’re going to bust loose,” he said.
The Art of Living Retreat Center, a vegan wellness retreat in North Carolina that doesn’t serve alcohol, reports a 50 percent increase in visitors specifically seeking out a sober vacation. Their ranks have also grown at Rancho La Puerta, a fitness and spa resort in Tecate, Mexico, where no alcohol is served in the dining room. “Many guests have shared that through the challenging year, mostly at home, they found themselves drinking more than they ever had before,” said the director of guest relations, Barry Shingle, in an email.
Sober travel is a close cousin of wellness tourism, a sector currently valued at nearly $736 billion and expected to grow by $315 billion by 2024, as the pandemic has amplified our desire to optimize our health.
“Wellness travel, and sober travel being part of it, will become more compelling for individuals who want to keep their immune systems strong,” said Dr. Wendy Bazilian, an exercise physiologist in San Diego. “Post-pandemic, we will be craving a lot of different resets.”
Fay Zenoff, an addiction recovery strategist, will lead a workshop for the sober curious in Mexico this September. She calls sobriety “a new tenant of wellness,” and her workshop offers strategies for evaluating one’s relationship with alcohol. “We are all recovering from something and you don’t have to be sober to benefit from recovery practices,” Ms. Zenoff said.
The weight (literally) of booze in the great outdoors
The pandemic also pushed travelers toward the great outdoors, which also compelled many to ditch the drinks.
Carlos Grider, 37, who runs the travel blog A Brother Abroad, said that with cities on lockdown, he’d seen his readers shift their priorities as they planned trips to national parks and campgrounds.
Mr. Grider has been doing sober travel stints for four years, all corresponding with intense adventures: a motorbike tour through the rice paddies of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam; a meditation training at a monastery in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.
“If you’re going to go on a trek or a hike, you’d have to take the booze with you, and nobody wants to carry that extra weight,” he said. “It’s a positive outcome of the pandemic that has made travel much richer.”
Sarah Fay, 29, agrees. She quit drinking two years ago, and her desire to hike the volcanoes at Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán helped keep her sober through the pandemic.
“I kept telling myself, when the world opens up again, this is the thing I want to do,” she said. “It was a health goal to be able to climb at that elevation. “Ms. Fay made it to the volcanoes in late April. She has shared her sobriety journey on her travel blog, where several readers have reached out for sober travel advice. For women, she said, sobriety is especially important.
“As a female solo traveler, it’s safer,” she said.
The allure of the mocktail
In cities, too, options for alcohol-free fun are expanding. Spire 73, the open-air bar atop the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown, has responded to a demand for virgin drinks by adding nonalcoholic wines to its bottle-service menu; at Regent Singapore, mocktails at the acclaimed Manhattan Bar are being concocted with freshly squeezed juice and steeped tea infusions.
Alcohol-free morning raves, like Daybreaker and Morning Gloryville, had to go virtual during the pandemic, widening their global audience. As in-person parties return, organizers say, more travelers are arriving on the drug-free dance floor.
Eli Clark-Davis, a Daybreaker co-founder, says out-of-town guests have tripled since in-person dance parties resumed in May.
“Instead of just activating in 28 cities, we were in 112 countries. Now they want to visit the real thing,” he said.
Newly sober or sober-curious travelers should plan ahead, said Holly Sprague, the co-founder of Dry Together, an alcohol-free online community for midlife moms, by scouting out sites for mocktails and rethinking habits like drinking at airports.
Ms. Sprague, 46, has been dry for nearly three years. Megan Barnes Zesati, her co-founder, is also 46 and on her fourth year dry. Vacationing sober, Ms. Zesati said, has completely changed her travel experience.
“During my vacations these days, I’m as likely to enjoy a sunrise as a sunset,” she said. “On past vacations I rarely took advantage of mornings. Now they are my favorite times.”
THE WORLD IS REOPENING. LET’S GO, SAFELY. Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our Travel Dispatch newsletter: Each week you’ll receive tips on traveling smarter, stories on hot destinations and access to photos from all over the world.
With people splitting work hours between office and home, it can be a challenge to figure out what tools to use in which situation.
When the pandemic blended our professional and personal lives by forcing many of us to work from home, we learned a valuable lesson about tech. It can be an incredibly useful tool for communicating with colleagues. But when used without care, it can hurt our productivity and our relationships.
Now as some white-collar professionals prepare to return to the office, many businesses are planning a so-called hybrid model, in which workers split their hours between the office and home. And therein lies a new tech challenge.
Instead of one work environment, many of us will have two. We’ll be constantly switching between them, collaborating with some colleagues in the office while others are at home. It may feel chaotic to figure out which tools to use — from email to video calls — for working together in each situation.
“What I’m seeing in the literature is more and more evidence of how important it is to be intentional and deliberate about the way we’re using technology,” said Emiliana Simon-Thomas, a neuroscientist who teaches courses about the science of happiness at work for the University of California, Berkeley. “How is it supporting what I really want to do rather than pulling me in 15 different directions?”
I consulted experts on workplace well-being for their advice on how to deal with this new hybrid setup. Using tech (or unplugging from it) to establish boundaries will be of paramount importance to our new home-and-office lifestyles, they said.
Despite the popularity of remote-work apps like Zoom and Slack during the pandemic, studies have found that the most effective communication tools are still the most low tech. That means that in the office we’ll probably thrive with more face-to-face interaction, and that at home the phone is usually best.
Here’s a guide to how that might play out.
To text, call or Zoom
During the pandemic, the number of phone calls doubled, according to data provided by phone carriers. The phone proved to be a superior method for feeling closer to people and enjoying conversations more, according to a study last year by the Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Another study found that as the use of video-calling exploded in the last year, “Zoom fatigue” became a real concern. Maintaining close-up eye contact and seeing yourself in real time during a video chat can be exhausting, according to Stanford researchers. Plus, sitting stiffly in front of a webcam limits our mobility.
So how do we apply these lessons to a hybrid environment?
When working with colleagues in the office, we can resist the temptation to converse via email or Slack. To make the best use of being near one another, consider a face-to-face conversation or, if you work on separate floors, a phone call.
When working with colleagues from a remote setting, a text or an email is probably fine for quick conversations, like setting up a meeting. But for more serious discussions, a phone or video call is probably better.
Video calls can get tedious, so they should be used sparingly and mainly when there is a clear purpose for video, Dr. Simon-Thomas said. That could be a meeting with visual aids in a presentation. Or a first-time introduction to a colleague, when it’s nice to see a face.
Whether in the office or at home, if you’re going to write to your colleagues, be thoughtful, Dr. Simon-Thomas added. Avoid terse notes, and add nuance and context to your message. Whenever possible, show curiosity when discussing solutions to problems to avoid coming off as a harsh critic.
“We don’t have the intonation, the facial expression and the postural cues that we normally rely on,” she said. “The most mundane response can mean a universe of things to a person that receives it.”
Regardless of our rank in an organization, our time is precious. When our work is interrupted by a digital distraction like a message, it takes 23 minutes on average to return to the original task, according to one study. So in a hybrid work situation, respecting boundaries will be crucial, said Tiffany Shlain, a documentary maker who wrote “24/6,” a book about the importance of unplugging from tech.
There are powerful tools, like scheduling emails and setting a status message, that you can use to let others know you’re busy and to set boundaries.
Let’s say that you work a 9-to-5 job and that at 7 p.m. you have an idea to share with a colleague, so you jot it down in an email. If you shoot off the email, two things happen. One, you have removed your own boundary by letting others know that you work during supper time. Two, you have potentially interrupted a colleague during his or her downtime.
Scheduled emails are a convenient solution. Gmail, the most popular email service, has an arrow next to the Send button to let you schedule an email for a specific date and time; Microsoft’s Outlook app has a similar tool. Scheduling the memo to be sent at 9 a.m. tomorrow would probably make everyone happier.
On the flip side, when you’re busy or clocked out, there are methods to prevent others from bothering you.
In Slack, you can set your status to “away” and write a description like “On deadline.” For email, the out-of-office responder can be turned on to let others know you’re in meetings.
Most smartphones also have a “do not disturb” option to silence all notifications. In the next version of Apple’s iOS, set for release this fall, iPhone owners will be able to set a status message in iMessage to show others when they’re busy. It will also include tools to allow notifications to appear only from specific groups of people, like family.
There are also methods that don’t rely on tools. Ms. Shlain makes a social media post letting people know that she is unplugging for the weekend so they can expect to hear from her later.
“It’s a great thing to communicate but also to let people know that they can do it, too,” she said.
Know when to sign off
On days when you’re working from home with no physical separation between your work and personal lives, you’ll need to make a more deliberate effort to sign off. Sometimes the best way to set a boundary is to have no tech at all.
One method for turning off work mode at home is to create physical distance, said Adam Alter, a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of the book “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” For example, you could set an alarm to go off in a bedroom at 5 p.m., forcing you to leave your office space to clock out both physically and mentally.
Ms. Shlain has a more extreme approach. For the last 11 years, she has practiced a tech version of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. Every Friday evening, she and her family power down their devices, and for 24 hours they do all the things that energize them, like hanging out with friends, painting and taking the dog on a long walk.
“For one day there’s no expectation for me to respond,” she said. “You clear the noise and the space to think bigger picture about your life.”
Then when she’s feeling refreshed on Sunday, she writes emails to her colleagues and schedules them to send Monday morning.
Last year, mountain resorts were overrun by travelers in search of space and fresh air. The visitors are expected back, but now the towns have expanded activities and plans in place to deal with the crowds.
For their vacation this summer, Susan Tyler and her husband have booked a house in the small ski resort town of Red Lodge, Mont., with a group of friends. As they message daily about the trip, the anticipation grows, said Ms. Tyler, a performing arts administrator in Texarkana, Texas. “Being outside with friends is smart and renewing, and it feeds your soul,” she said.
True, but not when the trailhead is so packed you can’t find a place to park. Last summer, pandemic travelers, remote workers and an unprecedented number of new full-time residents descended on mountain towns in search of space and fresh air, prompting longtime locals to complain about overcrowding and quality-of-life concerns. This year promises more of the same.
The difference? Resort towns are prepared, with on-mountain activities back to operating at full capacity, programs in place to educate visitors on outdoors etiquette, plans to address overcrowding and new attractions that highlight the alpine environment.
A mid-May report from DestiMetrics, which tracks lodging in mountain resort destinations, describes bookings as “surging” for this summer, with July, August and September already well ahead of the same time period two years ago, which was itself a record-setting summer for resort visitation and revenue. At the same time, average daily hotel rates were 32 percent higher than they were in summer 2019.
“We’re seeing earlier demand than we’ve ever seen before and at higher levels,” said Anna Olson, the president and chief executive of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce, who noted that lodges in nearby Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks that had closed for most of last summer have reopened, increasing the number of rooms available near the Wyoming resort town; additionally, the Cloudveil, a new Autograph Collection hotel, has opened.
Not just for skiing
Of course, summering near ski resorts is nothing new. Some towns, like Jackson and Whitefish, Mont., have historically attracted warm-weather visitors because of their proximity to national parks. Others, like Colorado’s Aspen and Telluride, have drawn vacationers with longstanding cultural events, like the eight-week-long Aspen Music Festival and School and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. And many ski areas have long offered scenic chairlift rides to hiking and biking trails. But now resorts are increasingly promoting themselves as warm-weather destinations and adding more outdoors-oriented activities like purpose-built bike parks, forest canopy tours, mountain coasters and via ferratas, a European-derived system that consists of permanent steps and ladders bolted into a rock face; users attach themselves with carabiners to steel cables to prevent big falls.
For one, there’s the desire to create more of a year-round — and less snow-dependent — economy. Additionally, passage of the Ski Area Recreational Opportunities Enhancement Act in 2011, and subsequent policy guidelines issued by the U.S. Forest Service in 2014, eliminated cumbersome aspects of the permitting processes on federal land, making it easier for many mountains to develop summer recreation.
Vail Resorts was one of the first to capitalize on the new legislation with its Epic Discovery summer program, introduced at Vail Mountain and Breckenridge in Colorado, and Heavenly in California, starting in 2016. Zip lines, alpine slides, ropes courses and more, along with educational components, aim to let visitors immerse themselves in the mountain environment. Since then, many other resorts have followed suit. This June, for example, Telluride, in southwestern Colorado, introduced its first canopy tour, with zip lines, aerial bridges and rappels.
The approach has been working. Some would even say too well. “Now at most mountain destinations in the West, and at many in the Northeast, the summer occupancy is as high or higher than during the winter months,” said Tom Foley, the senior vice president for business operations and analytics for Inntopia, a resort marketing and e-commerce firm. (He adds that lodging prices, however, still lag behind winter’s peak rates.)
Even resorts that long had infrastructure in place have benefited. Vermont’s Killington introduced its bike park (which sits on a combination of state and private land) 30 years ago. But from 2016 to 2018, visits surged to 30,000 from 12,000, said the resort spokeswoman, Courtney DiFiore. She attributed the growth to new beginner and intermediate trails, more programming for children and an all-season pass option.
This year, resorts expect summer visitation to ramp up several notches, in reaction to the pandemic. “It’s unreal how much demand there is for Jackson right now,” said the ski area spokeswoman, Anna Cole. “Jackson by nature is outdoors and pretty distanced, and people want to get in their cars and drive,” she said. “We fit the bill on all fronts.”
The ski area continues to expand its offerings. The Sweetwater gondola is running for the first time in summer, hauling riders and their bikes to new routes within a growing trail network, and last summer the mountain added to its guided via ferrata routes.
Other resorts, like California’s Mammoth Mountain, have also built via ferratas. For some ski areas with rugged winter reputations (including Jackson Hole), offering hikers the challenge and reward of safely ascending rock features is a fitting alternative to more passive experiences. “We’re not looking for zip lines or mountain coasters,” said David Norden, the chief executive of Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, which added a via ferrata last August. “We want people to engage with the mountain and get that sense of accomplishment.” Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin delves into summer operations for the first time this year with its own via ferrata — topping out at 13,000 feet in elevation, it’s North America’s highest — along with an aerial adventure course.
Taos also introduced lift-served mountain biking last year, tapping into another summer growth area, as resorts across the country have introduced or expanded existing bike parks. Though these projects have taken at least a couple of years to plan and construct, they coincide fortuitously with the pandemic-inspired surge in cycling.
For instance, New Hampshire’s Cranmore Mountain Resort, near North Conway, opened a family-friendly bike park last year, while nearby Loon Mountain opened its version in fall 2019. In Idaho, lift-accessed mountain biking returns to Sun Valley’s extensive trail network after a year’s hiatus and Snowmass, Colo., continues to add trails to its park. Even Mammoth, which was the world’s first resort to offer lift-served mountain biking back in 1986 and now hosts California’s largest park, is still expanding, adding some e-bike-specific on-mountain trails last summer.
Goodbye to the slow season
But the increase in visitors has come at a cost, especially in summer, when recreation takes place across more outdoor venues with greater impact. The upsurge of people vying for space on trails and in restaurants in the summer months means resort towns never get a break. “Discussions about overtourism in mountain towns have been going on for a long time,” said Inntopia’s Mr. Foley, who also noted the scarcity of affordable housing for workers, especially given the recent run up in prices as new home buyers have sought refuge from the pandemic in the mountains. “Every problem that existed before the pandemic is still there and probably worse.”
Many longtime locals say the growing number of visitors, especially those who may not be familiar with low-impact outdoors practices is having a negative effect — and they are taking their objections public. Perhaps the most notorious instance took place in Lake Tahoe last August, as groups of residents, fed up by the onslaught of tourists and an avalanche of litter, staged protests at several busy intersections.
As a result, mountain towns are planning to greet this summer’s visitors with messages about how to encounter wildlife and engage with other people, especially given the ever-changing Covid regulations and staffing shortages in the hospitality industry. “We need the summer of courtesy and kindness,” said Rose Abello, the director of Snowmass Tourism.
Remember to be nice
Whitefish, home to a large ski area and a gateway to Glacier National Park, encourages visitors to Be a Friend of the Fish by limiting social media tagging on popular trails, staying calm in lines or traffic, packing out trash and keeping a safe distance from wildlife. Similarly, Sun Valley’s Mindfulness in the Mountains campaign asks visitors and newer residents to practice good environmental stewardship and adjust their pace and expectations to the area’s “modest, unpretentious, down-to-earth feel.” Jackson Hole’s Wild Rules tool kit provides expectation-managing emails and social media posts for businesses to share with guests, ideally before they arrive. And Breckenridge touts its new B Like Breckenridge program, which emphasizes respect for wildlife, using good trail etiquette, consuming less and walking more.
The town of Mammoth Lakes, home of Mammoth ski area, opted to fund a community host program, with both paid and volunteer ambassadors answering questions and handing out maps that show where dispersed camping is allowed and list important backcountry basics, like how to douse a campfire and bury or pack out human waste. At many resorts, hikers will be encouraged to cut down on trailhead crowding by going midweek or earlier or later in the day or by choosing less-frequented but still rewardingly scenic trails.
How travelers will respond and whether or not this new outreach will have a positive effect could go a long way toward decreasing friction between residents and tourists. “We’re a resort town but also a tight-knit community,” said Laura Soard, the marketing director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber, in Colorado. “It’s newer for us to be giving visitors behavior expectations, saying we want you to come visit us, but we want you to follow our rules and respect our community.”
The return of signature summer events, from outdoor concerts to food festivals, may mean fewer people all heading to the trail at the same time. Last summer, “we saw trailheads being stacked with cars, camping sites full and recreation stores sold out of gear,” said Ray Gadd of Visit Sun Valley. “This summer will have much more of a feeling of normalcy,” he said, mentioning annual gatherings like a multiday wellness festival and well-known writers’ conference that are once again on the schedule.
As for traffic, road trips will likely still be a popular form of travel this summer, but resorts hope to alleviate congestion by encouraging visitors to return to public buses and shuttles or to bike around town. New transportation options that make a rental car unnecessary have special appeal this summer, when cars are in short supply. Taos Ski Valley’s airline, Taos Air, offers new direct flights from Texas and California to a small nearby airport, and then shuttle service to the resort. Travelers to Breckenridge can book a United Airlines package that offers seamless transfer to the resort: They’ll board a 35-seat motor coach directly on the tarmac at Denver International Airport, along with their luggage, for the drive to their final destination.
Among the most important messages mountain towns hope to convey this summer: Plan and book well in advance, whether for lodging, restaurant reservations or guided outdoor activities. “Booking early helps us prepare and makes for a more relaxed experience for guests,” said Abe Pacharz, the owner of Colorado Adventure Guides in Breckenridge. You’ll get a spot on a trip, and perhaps advice on acclimating to the altitude, what gear you’ll need and what activities are the most appropriate.
“You have to have a reservation,” said Ms. Olson from the Jackson Hole Chamber. “The idea that you can come to national parks or ski area destinations and find somewhere to stay or camp is very limited. It may not be their vision of being on the open road and making last-minute decisions, but the reality of coming to these beautiful places with limited resources is that people have to be planners.”
Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places list for 2021.
Train your nervous system like a pet.
Lina Perl, a clinical psychologist in New York City, said these new activities might make you feel a little anxious. But the more you do them, the less power they will have over you.
Try to stick it out until the anxiety starts to fade, she said. If the anxiety remains, don’t give up right away.
Instead, breathe slowly, ground yourself and tell yourself you’re safe, she said.
Please don’t make me stay at that party.
My husband has long had a greater appetite for socializing than I do; this was a semi-frequent clash of ours before the pandemic that was papered over during quarantine because nobody could go anywhere. It would come out in small ways as we were working in the same limited space (my husband likes to chat during the workday; I like to bury my face in a computer in a silent room), but mostly my preferences won out.
Now that we’re re-emerging into the world, the clash is back, and I realize it also extends to our children. Our little one is more like my husband, while our older daughter is more like me. She and I don’t mind seeing people, though sometimes we need to be coaxed into socializing — and always require downtime to recharge. The more extroverted pair can be endlessly out and about, with less recharging needed. None of us is at the extremes of introversion or extroversion, but there is tension when we’re trying to figure out family activities.
When I started talking to experts about how to navigate our differences, the first thing I learned is that not everyone agrees on the definitions of “introvert” and “extrovert,” and it’s essential to define terms if you’re going to assess your own family dynamics. Kenneth Rubin, a professor of human development at the University of Maryland, who has been studying social withdrawal for decades, said that “people throw around terms like ‘shyness,’ or ‘introversion,’ or ‘preference for solitude,’ or ‘social anxiety’ into one big box, when in fact they’re all rather different.”
Shyness is being reticent in social company. With preschoolers, Dr. Rubin said, shyness is based on a fear of the unknown; with older children and adults, it is based on the fear of being judged. Social anxiety is “shyness on steroids,” as Melinda Wenner Moyer put it in our guide on how to deal with shy children. “It’s a diagnosable disorder characterized by a fear of being watched and judged by others that is so intense and persistent that it disrupts daily life,” she wrote.
Introversion is a preference for solitude, and is sometimes defined as losing energy from social situations, while extroversion is gaining energy from social situations. “I really like energy as a shorthand for talking about the whole thing,” said Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” “I tell people to imagine themselves with company they’re truly enjoying and think about how they feel at about the two-to-three hour mark. As an extrovert, you’re wishing for the party to last. As an introvert, no matter how socially skilled you are, you do start to feel like your battery is drained and you need to recharge.” This definition resonated with me — after about two hours of socializing it’s like a switch flips inside me and I need to take a break from people, even if it’s just five minutes in the bathroom silently staring at my phone.
So how do you figure out whether your family members are shy or introverted, and how do you make sure everyone gets what they need, socially speaking? Here are some tips.
Figure out each family member’s preferences. For kids, start by observing them when they’re interacting with others. If they are anxious or disoriented at the playground — always sticking to the periphery instead of jumping into the fray, no matter how long you’re there — they may be shy, Dr. Rubin said. If, like my older daughter, they need a lot of coaxing to leave the house, but enjoy engaging once they’re in an activity, they are likely introverted.
For adults, ask yourself this question, said Ms. Cain: “Imagine if you had an entire weekend to yourself with no social, family, professional obligations. How would you spend your time?” The answer will reveal how much you really enjoy socializing and how much feels obligatory.
Working to understand everyone’s natures and preferences through observation and discussion may seem obvious, but “it’s not obvious at all,” Ms. Cain said. “Most families have unspoken, unrealized expectations about what is the right way to be,” she said. So if you are an introvert in an extroverted family, or vice-versa, your needs may be overlooked or misunderstood.
Discuss plans beforehand. Having discussions about weekend activities you might do as a family and letting everyone voice opinions is essential, said Kristine Nicolini, an assistant professor in the journalism department at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, who wrote her dissertation on introversion and family communication dynamics. You might agree to do two social things on a Saturday, but schedule down time in between play dates and barbecues.
It’s also worth being aware of the family dynamics when you’re socializing, Dr. Nicolini said. Extroverted family members can invite their more introverted siblings or spouses into conversations to make sure they feel included, she said.
Divide and conquer. Doing different activities to satisfy introverts and extroverts some of the time may help get everyone what they need, Ms. Cain said. My husband might take my younger daughter out to her favorite park, while my older daughter and I will stay home and putter and read. Everyone is happy. With us as a couple, my husband will see friends after the kids are in bed, while I stay home and watch TV and fold laundry. We are both living our best lives.
That doesn’t mean we always avoid conflict. Leisure time, especially when we get to go out together without our children, is a zero sum game. I prefer to spend this leisure time just the two of us, while he prefers hanging out with a larger group.
Sometimes we compromise by going out to dinner alone and then meeting friends later. Sometimes I head home before my husband, but am mildly annoyed about it. In a weird way, the pandemic has made me grateful to be back to these old irritations; I find them comforting, like a scratchy old blanket. I’m just so glad we can socialize again at all.