Covid-19, Traveling, and the Compromises in Between

Friday March 13th, 2020 is a day that most people will remember for the rest of their lives. Since that day, much has changed in the way that people are able to get to any destination. The world has become an unrecognizable place, and has made 2020 a year of adapting to change.
Many families look forward to their holiday vacations as a way to escape their responsibilities and stresses, but unfortunately, the pandemic has made travelling a thing of the past. To prevent the spread of COVID-19 from country to country, nations shut down their borders to non-citizens. Non-essential travel between countries quickly became restricted, causing the cancellation of many people’s vacations and business trips.
As travel becomes more safe and accessible, restrictions and regulations have been put in place in order to maintain safety. Most businesses are running at a limited capacity in compliance with CDC social distancing regulations. Places that normally have large crowds, like theme parks, museums, and hotels, have guidelines in place for a safe experience, like running at a percentage of their full capacity. Guests are also required to wear face coverings and have their temperatures taken before entering an attraction. Safety measures generally taken for air-travel have been updated accordingly as well.
In order to have an efficient balance of safety and profits, airlines have continuously been operating throughout the pandemic, generally in smaller capacities. Although there may be less people on a flight than usual, it is still very possible that you’ll have to sit next to a stranger. The amount of airline tickets for sale is about the same, however the difference is that less people want to be on a plane. One reason is having discomfort in going to an unusual place when staying home is strongly encouraged. It also may be due to face coverings being mandatory for the entirety of a flight, an environment where the air ventilation doesn’t make for a comfortable experience.
Before the pandemic, finding a cheap and clean hotel to sleep in was not much of a problem. Now, hotels are staying open at a limited capacity, and are thoroughly cleaned between each visit. To ensure that their revenue is kept up with health standards and consumer interest is sustained in a time where people aren’t traveling as much. Loyalty programs that hotels and airlines have for their customers are offering new and enjoyable perks. Some new incentives have been created including everyday counting toward lifetime elite statuses for loyalty points, to be redeemed at a later time.
Cruising, a once wildly popular mode of traveling has indefinitely come to a halt. Many cruise lines have different ideas of how they could make a comeback, but none are completely sure of how to execute them. Because thousands of people from different countries stay together, diseases like Covid-19 can easily spread from person to person. The high population density makes cruise lines a dangerous place to be during a global pandemic. It’s hard to give exact details about the way that cruises can safely happen again, but executives say they are optimistic based on people who have already booked itineraries for 2021.
After speaking with 11th grader, Jessica LeMay, along with her other family members who traveled with her, they gave some insight as to their experiences while being out of state during this global transition. Jessica, her parents, brother, and grandma traveled to Florida on March 13th. They reported that JFK airport was “almost empty and lines were extremely short,” a very uncommon occurrence for this international travel center. Masks were only worn by few, as the science behind face coverings was extremely premature. Although mask mandates and social distancing requirements were not put in place yet, panic was beginning to set in as this unknown virus was ravaging more and more people everyday. “When we started our trip in the morning, JFK was much emptier than I’ve ever seen it, which I think was definitely due to a new fear of travelling. When we arrived at the Miami airport that afternoon, it was like nothing was wrong. It was at a normal capacity, and there were not many people taking precautions.” Upon leaving the Miami airport and renting a car, they had to wipe the car down themselves as a precaution, it was not done for them or asked of them to do. Everything was still open in Florida and they did not go anywhere where social distancing was enforced or masks were asked to be worn. This gives an interesting perspective of the world in the lame duck period between normalcy and official quarantine.
Although it is very unfortunate that getaways from normal life have been drawn to a much smaller scale, it’s important to practice safe behaviors and stop the spread of COVID-19, despite the inconveniences that may bring.

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