Meredith C. Carroll: How to travel post-pandemic in 41 easy steps

Meredith C. Carroll
Muck Off

1. Ask yourself if the pandemic is really over.

2. Tell yourself the pandemic is really basically over

3. Repeatedly ask others if they think the pandemic is over until you find someone who says it probably definitely is.

4. Ask everyone else about their travel plans while selectively tuning out the people who respond by saying it’s still too soon to travel.

5. Book, cancel and rebook the flight 11 times.

6. Come up with a plan, back-up plan and contingency plan for extra COVID-19 prevention strategies.

7. Study the airline’s mask policy, take notes on the COVID-19 protocols for both the arrival and departure airports, and learn the vaccination requirements for the individual cities and towns you’ll be passing through in the event of a mandatory written test prior to boarding and/or landing.

8. Consider tattooing the rules on your arm just to have all the information in one place.

9. Read about how the rules just changed again and settle on a Sharpie instead.

10. Decontaminate yourself before leaving home like Meryl Streep in the “Silkwood” shower scene.

11. Prep and clothe yourself for the flight with all the care and attention to detail of a doctor scrubbing in for brain surgery.

12. Double check that your fare is refundable.

13. Double check that you have enough masks on hand to last the entire 2-hour 40-minute flight, plus enough extra masks to last another full year. You know, just in case.

14. Regard unmasked people in mask zones with suspicion.

15. Regard masked people in no-mask zones with suspicion.

16. Regard everyone in the airport with suspicion: They all seem like they’ve done this before (traveled post-pandemic, that is).

17. Forget all the COVID-19 prevention strategies.

18. Discover that COVID-19 has not made airport bathrooms any less wretched. (This is not a post-pandemic travel step but rather a simple statement of fact.)

19. Take a moment to fully feel the deep disappointment that comes with realizing that not only are no good airport restaurants open after all this time, but also no bad airport restaurants are open, either.

20. Cling to the memory of the packed lunch you left on your kitchen counter two hours earlier.

21. Stand in line to board early so you spend more time on the plane worrying about tiny corona particles having an osmosis party on the parts of your body not covered in masks, gloves and abject fear and hypochondria.

22. Wipe down your seat with the constitution of a bioremediation specialist or crime scene clean-up crew.

23. Wonder if the seatback pocket on the plane has been cleaned (post pandemic, but mostly ever).

24. Wonder if your seatmate has been cleaned.

25. Regard your seatmate with suspicion.

26. Debate whether, after 657,000 consecutive minutes at home, you’re willing to roll the dice on your seatmate’s hygiene.

27. Wipe down your seatmate.

28. Wonder if it’s too late to have driven instead of flown.

29. Spend 20 minutes deciding if a Biscoff cookie is worth lowering your mask to eat.

30. Wonder if you lose the calories you patriotically choose not to eat on a plane.

31. Wonder if they give special awards to passengers who bravely refrain from eating during 2-hour 40-minute-long flights.

32. Discover that COVID-19c has not made airplane bathrooms any less wretched. (This is not a post-pandemic travel step but rather a cry for help because if not now, when?)

33. Decide for how long to hold your breath when someone else coughs.

34. Ditto for a sneeze.

35. Ditto for people passing by in the aisle.

36. And same for when your seatmate returns from the bathroom

37. Decontaminate yourself after deplaning, although maybe this time with a sponge instead of steel wool (this is not a post-pandemic travel step but rather a cry of mercy from your poor, raw skin).

38. Burn the clothes you wore on the flight.

39. Regret burning the clothes you had on after realizing your bags didn’t make it through to your destination.

40. Remember all the COVID-19 prevention strategies.

41. Decide that during the next pandemic it’ll just be easier to stay home (longer).

More at and on Twitter @MCCarroll.