Spring Break Travel During a Pandemic

Annabelle Wooster

When students have traveled for spring break in past years, they craved the crowded beaches, packed restaurants, and small souvenir shops. This year looks a little different. Instead, students are packing masks besides their swimsuits and wipes next to their flip flops. They have been creating detailed itineraries in order to keep themselves safe, and ensure a smooth transition back into the classroom at the beginning of April. 

Air travel is a popular option for many students and their families due to the convenience. Even with recent fears over the safety of flying during a pandemic, many students still feel that it is a safe option. 

“We are going to be flying to Florida (and) we will be socially distancing ourselves from other people as well as wearing a mask (while on the plane),” said sophomore Connor Neikirk. 

On the flip side, other students and their families have chosen to drive to and from their spring break destination. They feel it will keep them the furthest away from crowds of people. 

“My family is driving so we won’t be in contact with any other people, like what would happen if we flew,” said sophomore Jane Janiszewski. She will be driving sixteen hours to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.  

Like Janiszewski, freshman Melina Keenan’s family had the same thought. They too have chosen safety over convenience. 

“I am going to Virginia to visit my sister who goes to the University of Virginia…We are driving the whole way there,” explained Keenan.

Other students have also decided to drive. Some have even picked an underpopulated area a little bit closer to Wisconsin, with hopes that it won’t be as busy as other popular spots. 

“I am going to Michigan… We are also not going to a very touristy town. We will be using extra precautions but are mostly going to relax not to go out,” said senior Samantha Schultz.

Schultz isn’t the only one who has taken location into consideration. Many other students are choosing to stay in AirBnb’s, opposed to a shared hotel. 

“We are staying in an isolated AirBnB that has a separate pool so we won’t have to go to the crowded beach where we’d be in contact with hundreds of people. Our AirBnB is all to ourselves and we’d be the only people staying in that house” said Janiszewski. 

The Keenan family has also opted for a more isolated option. They are staying in a cabin. They have also planned out the best way for them to stay separate from other travelers.

“We will be staying in a cabin farther away from other people traveling…Also we will be buying food from a grocery store and cooking at the cabin instead of going to restaurants”, explained Keenan. 

The students that are staying in hotels, or other shared buildings, have created detailed plans of sanitization. 

“We are going to be staying in a hotel and not going out, we plan to use PPE and sanitize the room when we get there with wipes”, explained Schultz.

Even with the plans of precaution set in place, many students are still hesitant to travel. 

“I am a little nervous about traveling but I am confident that we will stay safe especially because we won’t really be near other people”, said Keenan. 

Many of these feelings are coming from a statement released by the Center of Disease Control (CDC). They are recommending that everybody stay home and limit the travel and exposure. 

“Travel increases your chance of spreading and getting COVID-19. CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time. Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19”. 

Other students are confident that their family’s current and past habits will keep them safe. 

“Right now, I feel that my family is very safe about covid. We wash our hands and sanitize very often when we are out in public, and since my family is staying in an isolated house I don’t have any worries. We feel safe wearing masks, so we will be extra cautious when we go on vacation,” explained Janisewski. 

Some students know that they are doing as much as they can. They are now hoping that others will choose to do the same, so everybody can enjoy their time off. 

“I feel that if everyone does their part and wears their mask while traveling it will help keep everyone safe. I am personally excited because it is something exciting to look forward to in this weird time,” said Neikirk. 

Like Neikirk, many of the students are truly excited to finally be able to travel, but they also have worries about the effect the extra exposure will have on the return to school in April. 

“I do think that there will be a spike in cases. This is the first time that people can actually travel again, and I don’t know if people will be as strong following covid guidelines. Even with going back to school five days a week again, that could cause a spike with everyone together again. Returning from spring break could definitely cause a spike since both cohorts will be together again” said Janiszewski. 

Like Janiszewski, Keenan also thinks that the early switch to five day a week learning will be a main reason for a potential spring break related spike. 

“I do think there is a possibility there could be a spike especially considering we are back to five days. Hopefully people are travelling responsibly though and we can keep the case counts low”, explained Keenan. 

She isn’t alone. Other students are anticipating a spike in COVID-19 cases, but are hopeful that people will listen to their bodies and stay home if they experience any symptoms. 

“I do think we will see an increase but I hope people will try their best to stay home if they have traveled and have symptoms,” said Schultz.

Like Schultz, Neikirk is also putting his trust in his fellow classmates to do the right thing.

“I think that if everyone does what they are supposed to do and wears a mask and socially distances then it hopefully won’t be too bad of a spike,” said Neikirk. 

Above all, Schultz realizes that travel is a topic many are unwilling to talk about. She wants everybody to be able to enjoy their time off, but also remember to sanitize, wash, distance and mask up. 

“I think travel is very controversial right now as a lot of people have different feelings on it. I think that if you are doing everything you can to stay safe (wearing masks, quarantining if needed, etc) it is ok”, she explained. 

Like many students, she wants to make sure that everybody does what they can in order to finish out the school year together. 

“I am not 100% for or against travel right now. But I also think that people still need to be cautious especially when coming back to school.”