When I landed an internship with Alaska Airlines straight out of college and later a full-time job in communications, I felt like I won the lottery. Alaska opened up the world to me, just like it does for so many of its guests every day.
If you also love to travel, you can probably relate to how I felt in 2020 (completely, and utterly, aghast).
Though I traveled in high school and college some, it wasn’t until I worked for an airline that I realized just how much I loved it! Travel is both my greatest passion and my favorite hobby. Before the pandemic, I was traveling at least two to three weekends per month, almost always for fun.
Last year, I flew roughly 20,000 miles—about a third of what I would normally fly in a year.
From January through the beginning of March, I traveled mostly domestically until COVID-19 became a public health issue in the United States. Here’s where I visited:
A solo trip to Montreal, Quebec, Feb. 16, 2020
A weekend in Maui, Feb. 21, 2020
A sister’s trip to San Diego, Feb. 2, 2020
A weekend in Anchorage, Alaska, Feb. 28, 2020
A friend’s birthday in Loreto, Mexico, March 13, 2020
Before the world was turned on its head due to COVID, I had plans to go to Ecuador in June, a trip to Chile in the fall and my best friend and I were even planning a trip to Bali to celebrate my 30th birthday in September. Alas, I had to change my plans and go with the flow like everyone else.
Please take your seat … on the couch
The word “homebody” is not something I would ever use to describe myself. However, 2020 had a way of forcing us all to embrace staying home. Unfortunately, for me, I was unable to spend that time with my friends or family due to distance, which made things even worse. There were times where I felt like I lost my identity entirely.
My favorite things to do, besides being with my friends and family, is taking a quick trip to grab tacos in San Diego or jet off to Juneau, Alaska to explore the town.
While I was grateful to be healthy and safe in 2020, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss traveling.
Last summer, instead of traveling, I took long walks around neighborhoods in North Seattle, meticulously planning out what household chores I would do next and reminisce about old trips. I missed traveling so much, I even became one of those people who started referring to different rooms in the house by three-letter airport codes (living room = LIV, bedroom =BDR, etc.).
Don’t get me wrong–I was grateful for my summer exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I went on a lot of hikes, which were wonderful, but I still missed wandering the world.
“I would have jumped on a plane to go just about anywhere.”
At the end of August, I volunteered to take a work trip to Spokane, Washington. When I boarded Horizon Air, Alaska’s regional airline, it felt like I was on my way to Tahiti! I was so excited to walk through the doors of Sea-Tac Airport, only this time, I had a mask covering my nose and mouth, and my travel accessories included a package of Lysol wipes and two bottles of hand sanitizer. But at this point, I would have jumped on a plane to go just about anywhere.
Another flight was in store for me in 2020 (praise the travel gods). In September, my sister and I flew Alaska Airlines to Charleston, South Carolina to celebrate my 30th birthday. Though it wasn’t Bali, it felt amazing to fly again!
By June, Alaska’s safety program (Next-Level Care) had been well underway, which implemented over 100 different ways to maintain the highest standard of safety throughout your journey—from mask requirements, enhanced cleaning, hospital-grade HEPA filters onboard and more—we felt super safe and cared for from start to finish and I’m not just saying that!
So, what does travel look like in 2021?
If only I had a crystal ball that could tell me when life will get back to a sense of normal. For now, this globe trotter is only traveling to domestic destinations. I’m looking for places where I can spend a majority of my time outside and away from other people. Thankfully, there are a lot of national parks and outdoor getaways that Alaska serves, so there are plenty of options.
This is just one travel bug’s take on 2020 and travel right now, but I’m optimistic about becoming ungrounded in 2021.
Some final thoughts & travel tips:
In January, I had the opportunity to visit Maui, Hawaii with my sister for her birthday.
We did our research. When we were initially deciding where we wanted to go, we chose Maui because we wanted a warm location where we could spend the majority of our time outside.
We planned ahead. The state of Hawaii requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test from a trusted testing partner taken within 72 hours of departure. Alaska Airlines makes it very easy. I used Carbon Health and my sister got her test done through Costco. Alaska also pre-clears travelers to the Hawaiian Islands as part of the Hawaii Pre-Clear program, which meant we didn’t have to wait in line when we arrived and got to vacation sooner. You can learn more about the program at alaskaair.com/Hawaii-bound.
(Also, for a nearly touch-free travel experience, be sure to download Alaska’s mobile app.)
We masked up. I’ve recently started double masking when walking through airports and onboard flights as an extra safety precaution. I’m extremely comforted though knowing that the HEPA filters on Alaska Airlines are circulating air through the cabin every two to three minutes, so there’s always fresh air. (Alaska also does a phenomenal job of cleaning their aircraft. Check it out!)
In Hawaii, I also brought my mask with me everywhere I went, even to the beach, and put it on anytime I passed someone outside.
We had a wonderful time! No, not everything in Maui was open. But we did get in a couple of hikes (Waihe’e Ridge Trail was stunning as were the Lava Fields), spent a ton of time at the beach and I also ate my fair share of fish tacos! (Check out Paia’s Fish market in Kihei! They have some of the best.) Most restaurants are open for take-out or at a limited capacity. Just double check or call ahead before you go.
If you choose to travel, just make sure you take the necessary safety precautions and research the destination you’re headed to beforehand. And if you’re not ready, that’s okay too.
Culled from Alaska Airlines website.