To travel or not

Students, families debate summer travel safety

As of May 5, 107,346,533 Americans (44.7% of the population) have been vaccinated, according to the CDC’s data; all fully vaccinated individuals are able to safely travel domestically without a mandatory test or self-quarantine.

With the world slowly opening up, a select few countries are accepting international travel with various implemented COVID regulations, like a two-week quarantine and mandatory COVID tests, according to travel magazine The Points Guy, thus leaving travelers with an important decision whether they should or should not travel over summer break this year.

Staying Home
The decision to stay home was the most favorable option for Lachezar Todorov, junior, and his family. They were supposed to travel to Bulgaria to see family overseas, but due to COVID regulations, “it’s just not a welcoming place anymore to visit” because they would have to be under lockdown for two weeks upon arrival, Todorov said.

“For us, we would just prefer to stay home because it’s just an easier option for us to stay at home and less money spent with all the tests that you have to take,” Todorov said. “We stay with grandparents [when we visit Bulgaria], so we’d be putting them at risk as well. It’s just not a good idea, and that’s why we’re postponing [the trip] to a later time. Instead, we Skype with them every weekend and we just talk with them.”

While his family decided ahead of time that they would not travel this summer, Todorov say he hopes he will be able to visit his distant relatives in Bulgaria some time next year.

“If everything goes well, next summer would be soon as we would travel or, if not, then next summer whenever; it’s just when everything clears up and we can be safe, and there are no worries,” Todorov said. “We don’t travel anywhere all that much anyway, so it’s kind of regular for me.”

Although he is not visiting Bulgaria this year, Todorov recommends those who do travel pay close attention to COVID regulations per location and take other precautions to reduce spread.

“It’s nice to take the test before and after going to see if you have a strand of the virus, and quarantining is also a good idea, but some places could be too extreme [with their COVID guidelines],” Todorov said. “In Bulgaria specifically, you have to quarantine for two weeks when you come and every day they will send a government official to check that you have not left the premises of your house, and if you leave, that results in a fine. Also, wherever you’re visiting another state of country, you should be mindful of the people around you and who you’re coming into contact with because they may be more at risk than other people.”

Altering Travel Plans
Unlike Todorov’s family, Asha Spetter, sophomore, and her family love travelling and generally take a trip three or four times a year, according to Spetter; however, this year’s challenges interfered with their original summer plans.
“We travel a lot and we’ve taken lots of precautions in order to do so. It’s a family thing to travel, so we were disappointed when our Croatia trip was cancelled last year due to the policy that we can’t travel to [some countries in] Europe or other countries right now,” Spetter said.

While they are not able to go to Europe like they planned, Spetter and her family will travel to Washington state, and she will participate in a pre-college program at Purdue University.

“I’m excited for Washington because I’ve never been to the state, which is interesting, and I really want to go to the Purdue program because I can be alone for a while,” Spetter said.

Spetter is not the only one excited for a change in scenery. Akansha Anand, freshman, also plans to travel with her family over the summer after not leaving the state majority of the year, Anand said.

“I’m most excited to see my grandparents in Michigan, or my cousins in California,” Anand said. “Also, if I go on a road trip, I’m excited to just see the scenery. [Normally] we try to travel once or twice a year, and I usually go to Michigan every summer to see my grandparents, but I wish we had the chance to travel more.”

Although their summer travel plans were altered, both Spetter and Anand plan to enjoy the change of scenery nonetheless.

“I would probably be able to go out of the country over the summer, but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to be possible this summer,” Anand said. “Still, every place I go is so different and it’s fun to find hidden restaurants, and see the different sceneries that make every destination unique.”

While both girls say they are excited to travel, both are fully aware of COVID regulations and plan to pertain to them throughout their voyages.

“I think the most important [COVID regulations] are wearing a mask and avoiding large crowds while social distancing,” Anand said. “Wearing a mask is really just human decency, even if you already have the vaccine. Social distancing helps prevent people who are carriers of the virus or don’t know that they might have it from interacting with people who don’t.”