By KATIE JOLLY and MEGAN TUCKER
Staff Writer and Staff Editor
A lot can change in a year. At one point, we were invested in prom parties and lunch dates with friends. That soon turned into concerns about food shortages and double-masking. This extreme swing from carefree to constantly on-guard left out any possibility of travel or adventure. That is, until we (Katie and Megan) were presented with an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.
Katie: My Aunt Beth, who lives in Tennessee, had been wanting to fly me out to see her for years; the problem is, I am terrified of traveling alone. However this year she suggested I have a friend come with me.
Megan: Katie and I are used to traveling with each other; the first trip we ever took was to Universal Studios in 8th grade. We always talked about going somewhere when we graduated, but COVID seemed to cloud that plan. We are very lucky that conditions have improved enough for safe travel and that we have a place to go.
Plans to Travel
Katie: Ticket prices were at an all time low, at least the lowest I’ve ever seen them. Even with such low prices, vaccines were still not widely available to the public and especially not to the youth. Megan and I didn’t feel totally comfortable flying without them. When we were both finally able to get the vaccine, we started looking into buying tickets more seriously. I watched flight prices for weeks in an attempt to find some kind of pattern, but it seemed like every day ticket prices climbed higher and higher. I called Megan and told her, “we have to get tickets now.”
Megan: The possibility of going to Tennessee seemed like more of a fantasy than anything. I just didn’t believe that it would happen until we actually bought the tickets. I had heard about the price of tickets being really low, and it seemed like people were flying for bread crumbs. When we did finally get our tickets, though, the price had gone up quite a bit. We were still flying for a cheaper price, but it just goes to show how much of society is starting to travel again.
Katie: The last time I had flown was 6th grade, so needless to say, I was pretty clueless about the process, not to mention all the new safety requirements for COVID. Not only would I need to pack a normal bag, but I would also need to include items I usually wouldn’t think twice about.
Megan: The first time I traveled by plane was in middle school, but I have flown a few more times since then. So, I know what a normal packing and airport routine would look like. COVID requires us to alter our plans slightly. Now we have to factor in our personal cleaning and protection supplies like hand sanitizer, extra masks, and even wipes for the airplane’s notoriously germ-y seats and tables. Living in a pandemic has not only changed how we view everyday situations, but it has also revealed how truly gross certain places and things are.
Airport Precautions (COVID and personal safety)
Katie: As someone who is usually very cautious and somewhat paranoid about my surroundings, being without an experienced adult in an airport scares me. Usually, if I saw someone who was making me uncomfortable I could tell an adult, but now I am the adult. We also have to deal with COVID problems as well, so not only are we having to navigate an airport/airplane on our own, but now we have to be mindful of the virus as we do it.
Megan: Because we are traveling on our own, we have to learn how to protect ourselves. We obviously can’t bring personal protection items like pepper spray, so we’ve started finding tutorials on self-defense. There is safety in traveling in numbers, but we can never be too prepared. On top of that, we also have to be mindful of COVID restrictions and guidelines. Even though we are both vaccinated, we would rather be safe than sorry and take precautions. As of now, we plan to double-mask and sit away from people as much as possible.
Katie: Since I haven’t flown in a while, Megan will be doing most of the navigating. This means that my job is to stay awake and to keep an eye on things. I am a night owl anyways, so this shouldn’t be too difficult of a task. My job will basically be to help Megan locate things and to stay up through the flights. I have also been assigned the task of waking up Megan from her naps, so you could say that is a fairly important job.
Megan: In order to get the best ticket prices, we had to settle for strange flight times and layovers. Since we’ll be flying either late at night or early in the morning, we created a sleep schedule. That way, at least one of us will be alert at all times while in the airport and plane. Because I have been in an airport within the last five years, I am responsible for staying awake and getting us around in the terminals.
Traveling was put on the back burner in March 2020. Leaving our homes just didn’t seem like an option. Now that over a year has passed, we finally have some safety to travel. It seems like a big step, especially since Tulare County had us in a restrictive tier for so long. We hope that this opportunity will help us overcome some of our mental blocks related to COVID.