Travel restrictions are lifting across the world, but some travelers still fear covid

Travel restrictions are lifting across the world, but some travelers still fear covid

Some Americans rush to splurge on summer trips, embracing the idea of ​​“revenge travel” to make up for lost time. But the threat of a new variant lurks and fear of the virus is not so easily dismissed after two years of rapid changes in public health travel advice. Part of “living with the virus” is determining the limits when the responsible way to act is up for debate.

“We’re just kind of in this weird, uncertain time about how we should travel, if we should travel, and where do you travel,” said Charlie Crespo, a Miami-based travel writer.

This “re-entry anxiety” is rooted in the risk that travel could pose to their health and that of those they love, especially for those who are high-risk or immunocompromised. While worries about contracting or spreading the coronavirus still weigh on the minds of some travelers, many others see an opening as the coronavirus gradually becomes rampant.

“People who had trips planned for 2020 and 2021, they get rebooked. They postponed it,” said Kathy McCabe, host of the “Dream of Italy” travel show on PBS. “My travel planner friends and travel agents say they can’t book trips for this summer fast enough.”

For solo travel consultant and blogger Abigail Akinyemi, going from jet-setting every month to staying home for more than a year was a big adjustment. So in the summer of 2021, when the availability of vaccines led to the lifting of travel restrictions, she eagerly grabbed her passport.

“The last half of [2021], I did maybe two trips,” she said. “But I’ve fully accelerated now, which is kind of fun.”

Amanda Dillard, an associate professor of psychology at Grand Valley State University, said the vaccinations lessened the sense of worry and anxiety many people had about traveling at the height of the pandemic. With critical illness protection, those who are not at high risk of serious covid infection feel like they are “back in the driver’s seat” and can resume the activities they enjoyed before the pandemic, she said.

Jen Ruiz, a travel blogger based in Puerto Rico, follows this path. “I’m pretty confident that it’s only a matter of time before travel comes back and it will come back stronger than ever,” she said.

Ruiz has traveled to four US states, Mexico and Jordan since deciding to travel again. She has also taken cruises to Honduras and the Bahamas. The months of travel she lost only motivated her more to check the destinations on her to-do list.

Akinyemi and Ruiz said they mostly stick to outdoor activities and social distancing while traveling. They’ve also seen the devastation the pandemic has taken on the travel industry, and they’re eager to help support struggling businesses.

“It’s hard to make a decision you can stick to in a week, let alone two months.”

— Travel writer Charlie Crespo

Crespo and his wife have also taken trips since being vaccinated, but with much more hesitation. As newlyweds who had saved vacation days, the couple had high hopes of venturing overseas in early 2020. But like many others, they put their overseas travel plans on hold. waiting.

Despite the easing of restrictions, Crespo said, he and his wife do not want to leave the country. In recent weeks, they’ve felt the need to travel further afield – to London, perhaps – but have yet to act on the impulse.

He said the sometimes conflicting and seemingly ever-changing advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other expert sources was holding him back.

“It’s hard to make a decision that you can stick to in a week, let alone two months,” he said.

For potential travelers with weakened immune systems or other health conditions, the risks of contracting the virus come with a higher cost to consider.

Before the pandemic, Rachel Romu used to leave her home in Toronto several times a year. Romu has only traveled for work once during the pandemic, in the summer of 2020. It was an era of strict travel restrictions, meticulous sanitation and HEPA filters. But even now, they said, they are not planning any overseas leisure trips anytime soon.

“With the evolving restrictions, I see myself perhaps even more hesitant to travel,” Romu said. “It is and always will be the most vulnerable populations that are affected.

Illness has loomed over Romu’s life for the past decade: first, a spinal tumor that left them temporarily immunocompromised, and now Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects their connective tissue.

Romu longs to travel to Finland, where they have family, and to live in Europe for a while. But they are acutely aware of the vulnerable position they could put themselves – and others – in with potential transmission of the virus. Romu said they want more people to take stock of the risks their actions might pose to others, especially people in the disability community who are disproportionately impacted as restrictions fall.

“I’m doing everything I can to not have an acute illness after spending so much time struggling and navigating the healthcare system with a chronic illness,” Romu said. “And besides, I think it would be really unsettling to find out that I was someone who brought something back [and someone got sick].”

In Miami, Robert Rexach and his wife have also limited their lifestyle due to reduced restrictions. This month, when Disney announced it was scrapping the mask requirement for vaccinated guests, the couple decided to let their annual passes expire.

Rexach’s wife is immunocompromised and before Disney’s announcement, they felt safe visiting the parks several times a month. Now, he says, “not so much”.

Rexach has the passes until this summer. Without a mask or physical distancing, however, he’s unsure if he and his wife will even return to outdoor spaces at Disney parks.

Despite concerns from people who feel threatened for their health or personal ethics, Dillard, the psychology professor, said she thinks most Americans will adapt to pre-pandemic travel fairly quickly.

“The pandemic has been with us for two years, and people now have a lot of experience dealing with it,” Dillard said. “I think people may have a bit of hesitation, but at this point maybe some of their excitement outweighs the hesitation they had.”