Opinion: Traveling during the pandemic is OK


Photo courtesy of Lincoln Aftergood.

Lincoln Aftergood stands on the beach with his mother and cousin in California over the summer.

Lincoln Aftergood, Reporter

Most people are familiar with the stress of flying and wondering whether you packed enough or if you will get to the airport on time. However, even though traveling is relatively safe during the pandemic, the process has only become more mentally demanding as you have to worry about your own health and be cautious around others.

My mother and I have flown to California and back twice in the past three months. It felt mostly safe, but being in close proximity to strangers was exasperating at times.

Airline companies have started requiring face masks, disinfecting the planes more periodically and filtering air on flights in an attempt to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, on two of the flights, we were seated directly next to strangers, which was irritating because it did not allow for any social distancing at all.

Another major difference while traveling during the pandemic is that many of the stores or restaurants in the airports were closed, so the ones that were open had long, crowded lines for service. It felt slightly unsafe with everyone touching the same surfaces and food on display.

Each time I returned from travel, I got tested at a local testing site and isolated myself until my results came back. While the process was tedious and annoying, it only took four or five days to receive my negative results and go back to normal activities. 

While many feel cautious to travel right now, there are some unexpected positives. 

For one, prices for plane tickets are much cheaper than they normally would be because fewer people are traveling. This means tickets are almost always available and there is little crowding in the airport itself.

Another advantage is that there are no fees for switching your flight plans, so you can arrive and depart from your destination whenever you want. This flexibility gives you the freedom to extend your trip if you want, or even cut it short without any financial consequences.

With these positives in mind, if you do decide to travel in the near future, there are multiple recommendations I would make. 

I would recommend bringing your own food and refillable water bottle so that you do not have to wait in a long line or risk touching contaminated products. Another recommendation that I believe is crucial to traveling right now is getting tested for COVID-19 once you come back. This protects yourself and your community from anything you were exposed to while traveling.

While airlines are currently doing a great job keeping people safe during flights, I wish they would allow for more distancing between customers. Whether it is on the airplane or at an airport store, there should be stricter social distancing between people to reduce transmission and help alleviate the stress of getting COVID-19 while traveling.        

After being stuck in your house for multiple months of quarantine, you might want to take a flight to somewhere more exciting. Personally, I would urge traveling based on the recent safety measures that have been taken in the industry and the little risk of contracting COVID-19 if you maintain safe practices on the trip.