Travel in the Time of a Global Pandemic

Josh Duncan, Staff Writer

Over spring break, I went on vacation to Hawaii with my family, and it was clearly different than a usual vacation in certain respects.

As we all know, the world is still contending with the coronavirus pandemic that started over a year ago. Many of life’s institutions have dealt with the effects, including schools, sports, and (most importantly to me) travelling. I travel a lot, and I enjoy doing so. Experiencing new things, new cultures, and new climates has always appealed to me, so I was curious to see how a trip in the midst of a global pandemic would turn out. Our original plan was to go to Europe, but we were limited to staying in the United States to avoid having to quarantine in another country for two weeks. Luckily, there are still many choices in a country this large, and Hawaii is a terrific U.S. destination.

Everything started relatively normally. We were picked up to go to the airport at 6 am on a Saturday; everyone had to have masks on, as you’d expect. We arrived at the airport, made it through the usual security, and got to our gate. Up to that point, nothing had been different except having to wear a mask the whole time.

When we boarded the plane, I expected us to be able to take the masks off. After all, movie theaters allow you to remove masks sometimes, especially to eat and drink. However, we were informed that we did have to keep our masks on during the whole flight, and the flight crew would wake us up if we fell asleep without our masks on. They warned us to keep them on so that we didn’t have to be woken up.

When we landed in Hawaii, the procedures were a bit more strict. They involved a survey and generating some sort of QR code for us to scan to be let out of the main airport. We had to show IDs and fill out some short questionnaires at another station before we could find our way out of the airport. After that, the vacation felt normal (with the exception of masks), and nothing felt too restricted. The only restriction was that a lot of sites were still closed in Hawaii, so we spent a lot of time at museums and memorials.

On the way back home, we passed through security and made it to on plane with no problem. We had a layover in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport for 45 minutes, but it didn’t involve any surveys. The flight back to Illinois was smooth sailing from there.

Overall, given the circumstances, travel is still pretty normal and quite enjoyable as long as you don’t mind wearing a mask for most of the trip. Surveys aren’t a part of every destination; Hawaii was an exception because the state had much stricter regulations for entry during the pandemic. If you decide to take a trip during this strange time period, you might get the feeling that it’s 2019 again.