Traveling During Covid-19

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 Empty airports, face masks, and social distancing

Very few people are traveling now. There’s a world-wide pandemic of a fast spreading corona virus. But greater than the virus itself is the new world-wide fear. Thanks to an unlimited access to media including TV, social media, etc the fear has spread everywhere, as if the actual fear was the virus itself.

Our arrival to Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport we were in shock at how empty the airport was compared to what we expected. There were no lines and hardly a soul walking around. It was almost like we stepped into some dystopian film. Our flights were less empty though probably at 30% capacity. We first flew to Amsterdam an 8-hour flight approximately, an 8-hour layover there, and then a second approximately 9-hour flight to Dar Es Salaam. On our first flight things were a little lax. Masks were not really enforced, and food service was limited but we got two hot meals and snacks. No alcohol unfortunately. On our second flight we were given a bag of awful sugary snacks and Diet Coke and masks were enforced.

At Atlanta Airport, most people and employees wore masks, though not everyone did. In Amsterdam on the other hand, all passengers wore masks, and signs everywhere told us to wear masks, but almost zero employees wore masks which was odd to us. Luckily, in our lounge where we spent our 8 hours most people didn’t wear masks and we felt comfortable. We get to have unlimited lounge passes thanks to my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card’s Priority Pass, which I fortunately learned about when we spend $200 for a 24 hour lounge pass when we came a day early for our flight one day accidentally and a guy gave us information on a whole new world especially for people who fly super often with cheapo tickets and many long layovers. So, I realize our view isn’t the same as everyone’s when it comes to mask freedom. We respect the rules and wear our masks when required and if masks aren’t required AND most people aren’t wearing a mask we won’t.

Once we arrived in Tanzania the Covid-19 requirements were so strange and almost felt like a show. Enforced 1.5 meter social distancing, employees checking that everyone had their masks securely, mandatory usage of hand sanitizer, and temperature checking. The show part was that there were a large handful of maybe employees filming and taking pictures of this. Totally seemed like a photo op to show how well Tanzania is responding to the Corona Virus. But as soon as we passed the doors to the arrival hall we did not see a single mask! 

Tanzania is one of the few, maybe the only country that never closed its borders, businesses, or prevent tourists from entering. In banks and public institutions masks are suggested and there’s a temperature check at the front door and hand sanitizing station but other than the occasional person you will not see anyone with aa mask or social distancing or distancing at all haha. So as each month brought our dreams of an annual summer backpacking adventure to an end, some vigorous research later we found a super cheap flight to a country we always hoped to visit and one that would allow us to do so during a time when so few feel safe to venture past their front door.


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