Traveling Responsibly During COVID: My Choices and Why

I’ve been pretty cautious since the pandemic started. I flew cross country for the last time in March 2020, then started avoiding community events, grocery stores, meeting up with friends, etc. I wasn’t isolating as much as some immunocompromised people still are, but more than the vast majority of people I know.

I flew again about three weeks ago, a calculated risk for the reward of spending eight weeks in a rental van traveling around California. The trip of a lifetime.

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So is it possible to travel and still minimize the spread of COVID? Everyone has a different opinion on this, but, here is my take on it.

I decided to travel within the country, and not to Hawaii.

I booked a nonstop flight with no connections to minimize number of people I would need to sit near for hours.

I got a COVID booster shot about a week and a half before my flight.

I bought some more comfortable 3M Aura N95 masks. This was crucial. I was able to wear the softer mask for several hours at a time without feeling too out of breath.

I wore the N95 mask for the entire time I was in the train to the airport, the airport, the plane, and the train on the other side. I took it off three times in my journey: to get through security at the ID check, in the airport bathroom to take a medication, and in the destination airport in a large empty space to chug a water bottle. Wearing the mask that long was mostly inconvenient because I would have drunk more water otherwise.

About a third of the people on the plane were wearing masks, more than I was expecting honestly.

When I arranged to meet with friends after arriving, I met them either outside in a park or at their house (their preference). I waited a few days to meet up with one friend who had mild cold symptoms then we met up in a park both wearing masks. It was delightful to see people I care about and haven’t seen in years.

I went back to one aikido class and one night of Irish dancing. For both, I wore the N95 mask the whole time I was inside (except for taking a shower after aikido).

I highly recommend this particular brand of 3M Aura N95 mask for exercise. The foam strip conforms to the shape of your nose and prevents the dreaded glasses fog. The mask is softer than most n95 masks I have tried and the flexibility is more comfortable with vigorous movement or falling and rolling. Cloth masks offer little to no protection against germs from unmasked people. A KN95 or N95 offers more protection for both you and friends.

I haven’t had any symptoms of COVID or any confirmed exposures so far, three weeks in. This is partially luck, partially good and careful preparation and reasonable precautions to keep us and our friends safe while enjoying our life and experiences!

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