Travel Advent Dec. 16: Traveling During Corona

Let’s get political. Not because I’m going to say anything politically driven, but because there’s no way to talk about corona these days without sounding like you’re choosing a side. So let’s talk about corona for travelers — because it’s the strangest time to be a traveler.

I was lucky enough to go visit the US in October, and after a 22-hour journey without taking off my mask except to eat or drink both ways, I got back to Denmark corona free. I was able to see firsthand how our two societies are handling the virus, and now I can understand why the US is in such a terrible position. We don’t give a shit about each other — including myself, the guy who decided to travel during a pandemic.

In Europe, everything is spotlessly clean, and even in the relatively crowding Amsterdam Schipol Airport, people were practicing good social distancing measures and wearing their masks properly. Everyone had their little bottles of sanitizer and washed their hands often. People in Europe, for the most part, understand that this virus is contracted by being close to each other, and therefore stay home or at least make the effort to distance themselves (again, for the most part).

In the United States, people are traveling as if nothing had changed. I was walking around thinking “where the fuck are all you people going?!” The airports were packed, with people sitting close to each other, taking their masks off to cough or sneeze into their hands, and not washing their hands even after going to the bathroom. I was in the bathroom in Atlanta airport, and one of the baggage handlers came in with his chin diaper mask pulled down around his neck flab. He went up to the urinal, did his business, and left. I couldn’t help but be ashamed of my fellow countryman, sure it’s disgusting to not wash your hands after touching your dick but it’s somehow even more disgusting to do it during a pandemic — and then to go out and do your job which is to literally touch thousands of people’s luggage.

So what can you do if you simply must travel right now? I’m no professional, but from my successful flight experience, I’d say stay away from people as best as possible. Wearing masks gives people a sense of security that they wouldn’t have if they didn’t wear masks. Masks are a bit like football pads — they do some good to protect you and the other guy but if you both ram each other like a pair of horny rhino’s you’re both going to break your necks. When I flew, I made sure to book a window seat, which at least made me feel a bit safer. On top of that, try to book an airline that blocks out the middle seat. I also had the air running over me the entire flight to break up any air particles, so bring a hat or hoodie to keep your head from freezing.

These are all anecdotal fixes because I think the best thing we can do is just do nothing for a little while. I realized this is a bit hypocritical since I was just in the US, but I really didn’t realize it until I landed in Atlanta and I was too far in. We didn’t even have a mask order back then in Denmark, and we were all pretty much convinced that the virus was controlled in our little utopic bubble. But as soon as I got to Atlanta and realized the sheer volume of people traveling at this moment, I realized we’ve probably gone a bit too far.

I had grand travel plans this year as well, but hopefully, if we just suck it up for a few more months we can get back to some form of normalcy soon. Stay safe, keep your distance, and try to spread a little positivity this holiday season. And for fucks sake, wash your hands if you’re a baggage handler.

Feel free to comment below and tell me how full of shit I am — I know I can’t escape a debate if I bring up the ‘rona!

edit: I’ve been told I was a bit too critical of my countrymen. I simply want the best for them, since I believe America to easily be one of the prettiest places on Earth filled with some of the funniest and most charming people I’ve ever met. I’m critical because I want the best for my people, and I apologize for sounding to one sided because I know Europe has not handled the situation well either.

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