The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Traveling During a Global Pandemic


As travel is open during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are still roaming the country, and even some the world. As it’s very difficult to maintain proper social distancing on an airplane, some US airlines have taken measures to try and protect their passengers, but others, are not as concerned about the virus.

As seen in this graphid from the United States Public Interest Group, all of the airlines are enforcing mask requirements, but only about half are cleaning between flights, and only four airlines are blocking middle seats. Inside an airplane, it is very difficult to have proper social distancing, even with measures like requiring masks and blocking middle seats, passengers would not be distanced enough from each other to the necessary extent.

Alex Gatti-Roaf, currently a senior at WIS, traveled to Italy over the summer and described his abnormal experience.

“There happened to be about six seats per person on my first flight leaving the country, so we were able to distance ourselves, but on my flight from England to Italy every seat was taken,” Gatti-Roaf said. 

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It was fairly restricted for U.S. residents to travel internationally at the time, and Gatti-Roaf mentioned that his family had initially planned to make a trip to Iceland, but the restrictions on travel for U.S. residents prevented them from completing their trip. They were only able to travel into the European Union at the time because they had EU passports.

When Gatti-Roaf arrived at his final destination in Italy, he was required to quarantine for two weeks. After he finished his quarantine, he went to a small town to visit some family. 

“The place I went to is normally only a tourist spot for Italians, so everything seemed pretty normal considering the pandemic, as many Italians were still traveling around the country for vacation,” Gatti-Roaf said. 

Jasper Courtney, currently a junior at WIS, traveled cross country by car when the school year first ended in June. He started in D.C. and drove west stopping in many different places. 

 Courtney explained that as went further from the east coast more states were being very relaxed in terms of COVID-19 restrictions. He also mentioned that in many of those states and especially in more rural areas, mask-wearing was not enforced or required. 

It would make sense to think that because of the pandemic, one’s traveling experience would be very abnormal or different. That being said, Courtney expressed that some of the places they visited did not seem different than they would have before the pandemic, mostly because the activities he and his family were doing were outside. At some points, however, his experience was reasonably different from what he expected. 

“It just felt extremely quiet and calm and empty in some places, there were mostly locals around and a few other tourists but not many,” Courtney said, explaining those differences.

Even though the experience may not be the same, traveling during the pandemic is still possible and in part enjoyable, and can even be done safely with outdoor activities. Roaf and Courtney both considered their trips successful even with this risk involved. One can hope that soon this will all be over and that there will be no need to fly with a mask on and with the middle seat blocked, but for now, nothing is certain. 

By Jonas Tomkin

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