It is no question that the entire world has been impacted by Covid-19; and the world of travel is absolutely no exception. Every single aspect of the industry has been hit hard; from airlines to hotels and resorts, but even more important to me are the people who make it all work. The janitors who clean the airports, flight attendants, grounds maintenance, pilots, travel agents.....everyone is losing work. The impact of this virus on our industry has never been more apparent to me than when I finally got the opportunity to travel again.
Four months ago our vast, beautiful worlds shrank in an instant. I, like most people, have spent the last several months at home, quarantining in my little family bubble. When the opportunity arose to hop on a plane back to the Riviera Maya (one of my favorite places in the world!!!) I was instantly conflicted. I know as a travel agent that in order for our industry to survive we are going to have to go first. We have to find out how the world has changed and inform our clients, but all the noise surrounding the pandemic couldn't help but be in the front of my mind. In spite of my trepidation and the pit in my stomach, I knew we had to go.
What I can tell you right away is that it is not as scary as I made it out to be in my mind. The number one tip I can give you is to have a comfortable mask!! There are a lot of options out there, but you are going to want one (OR MORE!!) easy-to-remove mask. You will be required to wear your mask from the time you get into the airport terminal, ALL the way to your destination. The reason I say it needs to be easy to remove is TSA will need to see your face to get through security, and you will need to be able to easily take it down to eat and drink (you have to stay hydrated when flying my friends). We visited 4 airports this trip, and they were all far emptier than I had ever seen. We were by no means the only people flying, but for the high season of travel airports were shockingly deserted.
The small number of travelers makes social distancing easy and masks are required for air travel so everyone had one, but with so few people flying there was a seriously limited amount of provisions available for purchase. Depending on the size of the airport you are flying to and the time of day you arrive, you could have to hike a long way to find water and a snack. The moral of the story is to bring snacks.
Tip number two is to bring hand sanitizer. Within the United States you are able to bring up to a 12oz bottle of sanitizer with you in your carry on (The TSA will swab it, and check it, but you are allowed to have it). Since you will be living in your mask and taking it on and off you want to make sure to keep your hands as clean as possible. Touching your mask with dirty hands and wearing it on your face for hours is not a good idea. Cleaning procedures have OBVIOUSLY been stepped up everywhere and it shows, but it's still important to be aware of what you touch.
On the plane you will able allowed to remove your mask only for eating and drinking. We had an almost three hour flight, and by the end I was ready for some fresh air, but even for me, someone who suffers from anxiety symptoms and is very sensitive to changes in my body it was VERY doable. It is made easier by the fact that everyone else was having to do it too.
My final tip is to have a positive attitude and look for the bright side. Airports, planes, taxies, hotels, and resorts have never been cleaner. Social distancing and the removal of masks can add a little more time to your trip, but with so few people traveling everything is still running smoothly. Know that everyone else you are flying and driving with are getting used to the new way of travel right along with you. From workers to fellow travelers everyone we met seemed to be adjusting well to the new procedures, and you could see in their eyes how happy the workers were to have us flying again. We have all been hit hard by this pandemic, but to get back on a plane and lift off to a beautiful destination felt amazing. It felt like a sense of normalcy to me. As a whole I didn't find air travel too vastly different than before, there are just a few more steps to your day. Come with your mask, hand sanitizer, and positive attitude and you will have a great trip!