By Nina Huang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
“I’ve been going travel-crazy since I got vaccinated. Even when I wasn’t vaccinated, I was going to Hawaii once a quarter, but typically, during pre-covid, I would travel at least every other month,” avid traveler Jean Yang said.
Yang has traveled a few times during the pandemic and already has an international trip planned for later this year.
She started filling in her time with trips because she hadn’t been able to for so long. Her most recent trip was to Napa Valley with a former colleague.
It was a quick trip and there were plenty of things to do there besides drink wine. They signed up for a bike tour to try something new and different.
“We rode 10 miles on the bike, visited wineries, and it was a really nice way to see Napa in a different way that I’d never done before,” she said.
Next up, she’s headed to Hawaii again with her son, and another friend and her son.
Part of Yang’s motivation to travel more is to get to MVP Gold status on Alaska Airlines. They have been doing a lot of promotions, and she just needed an international trip to get her status. So she booked a trip to Phuket, Thailand this November.
“My anxiety has been higher lately because airports have been more crowded. Before people started traveling again, airports were so bare and they were blocking seats on the planes. But since my anxiety is there, I’m just going to do what I can to be safe.
Keep my mask on, wash my hands constantly, and really just try to minimize my exposure,” she said.
“Everybody should still be safe and considerate of others.”
Traveling around North America
Brian Luong has been traveling almost every month since getting vaccinated. He’s been traveling with the same group of friends, and last year, they got tested a lot. Like Yang, he and his friends also visited Hawaii and they require a negative COVID test 72 hours in advance. Hawaii now allows vaccinated visitors without restrictions. To be safe, Luong would get tested after returning from a trip, too.
In addition to Hawaii, he’s visited Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Austin, and a local trip to Leavenworth. Most recently, he traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in July.
In Mexico, the whole group was vaccinated and they spent most of their time at an all-inclusive resort. The city of Cabo San Lucas implemented a 10 p.m. curfew so they mostly did activities during the day like snorkeling and renting an ATV. He wasn’t too worried about the pandemic as the town was pretty quiet for the most part.
His next trip is to San Diego over Labor Day weekend because he didn’t want to go too far, but wanted to go somewhere he hadn’t visited recently.
In deciding which cities to visit, Luong and his friends based it on which restaurants were open. Los Angeles has a lot of outdoor dining, so that worked in their favor.
“With all of our trips prior to Cabo, we were diligent about wearing masks. We’d make sure we’d sanitize the airplane seats and trays and we still do that now. We were definitely much more diligent about wearing masks,” Luong said.
But with the heat in the summer in Austin, he said that a lot of people weren’t wearing masks so they didn’t wear it as often. However, they did wear them when riding in Ubers since it was required.
“Austin was pretty busy and outdoor bars were open and it was crowded, but we weren’t too concerned because the Delta variant wasn’t as serious yet,” he said.
Luong plans on waiting for other international cities to re-open, before visiting.
Amy Nguyen and her fiancé traveled several times during the pandemic, but mostly to visit family and friends for important milestones.
Last July, during the peak of COVID, they drove 20 hours to go back home to Denver, Colorado for a friend’s wedding. They wanted to avoid any interaction with people, stopping only for gas and bathroom breaks. They also packed groceries and ate sandwiches in the car. They stayed in Montana for one night and then just drove straight through to minimize interacting with other people.
After they attended their best friend’s small wedding that only had 25 guests, they drove right back to Seattle without seeing family.
Then last November, Nguyen had to fly back home because her dad was sick. Things had gotten a little better, but it was still before the majority of people were eligible for the vaccine.
“It was more stressful because I was going home to see my dad who was sick, but it was an emergency situation. He needed surgery,” she said.
Nguyen was very terrified about flying and was feeling guilty about possibly getting her parents sick.
On the plane home, Nguyen took extra precautions. She wore two masks, a face shield, carried wipes, hand sanitizer, and didn’t eat or drink on the plane so that she didn’t have to go to the bathroom.
She got tested after landing and waited at least 24 hours when she knew she was in the clear to go home to her family.
Nguyen stayed in Denver for two months with family and then flew back to Seattle.
They took a few more trips over the summer after getting vaccinated; a few trips back to Denver for family stuff, including her sister’s baby shower, and a trip to Austin for a friend’s baby’s first birthday.
Over the next few months, Nguyen will be going back to Denver again, as well as Tennessee and California for more weddings.
“With the pandemic looming, we don’t want to do unnecessary travel. All the traveling we’re doing now is for a specific reason like big milestones and important family stuff.”
Nguyen and her fiance are avid cyclists and they just bought a new tandem. They want to visit Portugal and do a bike tour. Originally they were hoping to go this fall, but they might have to wait until things are safer.
Right before the pandemic hit last March, they were supposed to visit Japan, but the trip was canceled. They plan to rebook their flights, as soon as those countries open up again.
Nina can be reached at email@example.com.