After over a year of being isolated due to the pandemic, many students had the chance for their first travel experiences since pre-pandemic life.
Due to the new COVID-19 vaccines being distributed across the nation, travel restrictions have been loosened and the ability to vacation has been permitted.
Liberal arts and engineering studies sophomore Madelyn Cruz said that it was difficult to not be able to travel during the pandemic.
“My family was really big on travel while I was growing up, so to not have that even for one year was just weird for us,” Cruz said. “Now that things have returned a little bit it has been a huge blessing.”
Cruz visited her family in Oklahoma as soon as she got vaccinated and flying was possible again. She said that the biggest difference between traveling before the pandemic and traveling now is the ease of the airports due to a decrease in crowding.
“I was surprised at how empty some of [the airports] were,” Cruz said. “I felt really comfortable with traveling especially because I am vaccinated and have taken the steps to wear my mask and sanitize.”
Cruz said she is really happy to see people “live a little again.”
“I know it was a rough year for everyone and we all kind of needed a little reminder of how exciting and fun the world is, despite problems like this that arise every now and then,” Cruz said.
Animal science senior Shayna Feinerman also had the chance to travel, going to Italy and Greece over the summer. She said that it felt “weird” because Europe had stricter COVID-19 guidelines than California.
“The delta variant was not really a thing yet and at that point California was completely open,” Feinerman said. “As soon as we got to Europe it was a lot more strict because they didn’t have as many vaccines available, but I was still super happy to be there.”
Feinerman said she and her family felt “invincible” and “free again” on the trip before hearing about the delta variant.
According to the CDC, the delta variant causes more infections and can spread faster than earlier forms of the COVID-19 virus. It may also cause more severe illness for unvaccinated people than previous variants.
“I feel lucky that we were [in Europe] before this new variant but I also feel kind of sad that it is still coming about,” Feinerman said.
Architectural engineering junior Sasha Padilla traveled to Mexico after she first got vaccinated and then a second time in July. Padilla said that the first time she traveled to Mexico she was extremely scared because so many people were traveling.
“The day we left for the airport we all had our regular masks, our N95s and our face shields and I did not take that off for ten hours straight,” Padilla said.
She said she did not feel like people were respecting others’ safety while at the airport and on the plane.
“A lot of people had to be reminded to put their masks up and had to be reminded that it is a mandate,” Padilla said. “I just saw a lot of faces and I felt like I was not supposed to see a lot of faces.”
Padilla offered words of advice to those who are thinking of traveling:
“If you are going to travel I think you have a responsibility to the areas you are traveling to to be vaccinated and have basic respect for where you are going,” Padilla said. “I understand the need for people to get away from their homes, just as long as they are being careful about it.”