I'll be the first one to admit that when the Coronavirus/COVID-19 first hit the news I was skeptical and just shrugged it off as a stronger strain of the
flu and something that would be over quickly. I couldn't have been more wrong unfortunately and now I sit very firmly in the "wash your hands, wear your mask, and get your vaccine" corner when it comes to this Pandemic, but I've also traveled quite a bit during this pandemic and it's taught me so much.
To give some back story, I lived in Honolulu, Hawaii on the island of Oahu from December 2019 to December 2020 and Hawaii acted very quickly in regards to this pandemic. As a tourist hotspot, the state knew that we would quickly become a hotspot for the virus if we didn't close down as much as possible and that if we became a hotspot, our hospitals would never
be able to handle the sheer number of patients that would inevitably be admitted, so we shut down. At first, it was only supposed to be a stay at home/work from home (WFH) order for two weeks, but the Pandemic had other ideas on that and Hawaii still remains one of the most locked down states today.
The first time that I was able to travel was in August 2020. I was devastated over the cancelation of my Borneo trip that I was scheduled to go on with Krissy and the TrovaTrip team in June 2020, but I was excited for the opportunity to go to Arizona and help out in hospitals that were overwhelmed with COVID and needed assistance, so off I went! I was extremely nervous about being on a plane with an airborne/droplet virus running rampant across the globe, but then I learned that I wasn't educated well on the mechanics of planes and that I was actually going to be really safe flying.
Planes circulate the air inside them that passengers breather every 3-5 minutes on average and they cycle that air outside the plane and then bring in new air from outside the entire flight. CRAZY, I know, but it's true! That means that the cleanest air possible is coming into the plane every time it cycles because there's not millions of people living up there and breathing in the air. Ummm, yes please! Airplanes have also introduced HEPA filters which is AMAZING.
The airlines that I've traveled with (United, American, Southwest) have also instituted strict mask mandates for all of their flights as well, which really made me feel safer. On all of my flights you were required to wear a mask that covered your nose and mouth and was secure to your face with NO filter holes, and if you didn't have a mask that met their standards, they gave you a disposable surgical mask. I know bandanas are cheap and look cooler, but they're not an adequate mask my friends, I'm sorry. I do however use them when hiking or other outdoor activities as they're easy to move up and down as needed to pass others while outside with fresh air all around and they're better than no mask at all.
Another travel rule that I loved is that Southwest didn't (I'm not sure if this is still in effect) allow for passengers to sit in middle seats in order to help keep passengers distanced as much as possible. All flights were also functioning at lower capacity, mine were at 50% earlier in the pandemic, so that there was spacing between all passengers or groups of passengers traveling together. If you were traveling with someone you could sit together, but if you were traveling solo you wouldn't have anyone in the middle seat next to you. All flights were also, and still are, giving out sanitizer packets or wipes (some give both!) as you board so that you can sanitize your hands and/or your seat prior to sitting. Between flights, the staff sanitize the entire plane in order to maintain safety and decrease spread of the virus too, which is grand.
The last part of traveling that made me feel safe is that a LOT of cities and states are requiring COVID testing or a mandatory quarantine upon arrival. In Hawaii you were required to have a NEGATIVE COVID test within 72 hours of arrival to the islands or you had to quarantine for 10-14 days. This helps to decrease spread of the virus and helps the islands to maintain safe numbers in their hospitals. For Hawaii, it was absolutely vital that we not become a hot spot for the virus because we simply don't have the medical needs to care for that many critically ill and we're too far to get immediate aide. Plus, Hawaii not only cares for their local population and any tourists visiting, but they also care for multiple smaller surrounding islands like Guam and the Marshall Islands.
I don't recommend traveling during a pandemic to everyone, but I do believe that with the right precautions in place, it can be safely done. Wear your mask, wash your hands regularly, don't touch your face, use hand sanitizer when not able to wash your hands, take your vitamins, drink your water, and if it's your thing, get vaccinated.