Families comfortable with summer travel, while others are not

William Custard and Olivia Hohmann

For most people, summer is usually a time to hang out with friends, relax and travel—but since last year, with the advent of COVID-19, everything changed. Travel was either restricted or pretty much canceled. Most of the travel industry, especially airlines and hotels, suffered terribly. However, this summer, declining COVID-19 cases and increased vaccine availability is encouraging many in our community to return to travel, while others continue to choose not to. According to a May 10 upper school survey of 158 students, 90 percent of students plan on traveling this summer, compared to 78 percent of students who traveled last year.

For freshman Patrick Adams, the pandemic ruined his plans to get out of Dallas for a new change of scenery last year.

“We had planned on going to Hawaii, but because of COVID-19, we were unable to go anywhere,” Adams said. “COVID-19 completely canceled our plans for last year and possibly this year as well.”

The Adams family is still deciding on whether or not it is safe for them to travel this summer. They are concerned about contracting the disease, as Patrick has underlying health conditions. If they do travel, they want to make sure that they feel comfortable and safe. Many other families feel the same way about traveling, they need a guarantee that everything will be okay. Similarly, math teacher Chris Northrup’s original travel plans were also ruined by the pandemic last year, but he did not let that stop him from enjoying summer and finding a safer alternative.

 “I drove to see my family in Baltimore,” Northrup said “We were all really careful and it was great to see everyone. I also drove to several state parks around Texas and went camping. It was perfect to be out in nature and away from people. This allowed me to feel safe from COVID-19.”

Like Northrup, many others wanted to travel but did not want to risk their safety.  During the start of COVID-19, the passenger volume on U.S. airlines was down 53 percent and later bottomed down to 90 percent. And Northrup was one of hundreds of thousands of people who did not fly last year.

 “Last summer, things were pretty scary with COVID-19, so I wasn’t comfortable flying on a plane or being in close quarters with anyone else,” Northrup said. “This means that any travel I did was done by walking, biking or car.”

Visiting nearby areas alone allowed Northrup to drive home daily, sleep in his own bed and then go on another adventure the next day. He hopes that he will get to travel more this summer and explore more of Texas, like many other members of the community.

“I’m planning on traveling more this summer than last summer,” Northrup said. “Things seem to be a lot safer and people seem to be respectful of others in terms of distancing and so forth.”

Although COVID-19 is still prevalent, there are more than 15 times the amount of people flying this time of year compared to last year. According to Forbes magazine, AirBnbs are expected to grow by 37 percent this year. However, many people still do not feel comfortable getting on a plane, due to the crowds and the close quarters. There are also people that although they have been vaccinated, still feel that it is their responsibility to stay off of airplanes and public transportation. They are doing this as they do not want to transmit the disease or put other people at risk.

While sophomore Bryce Hill normally travels often over the summer, she did not plan as many trips last year. However, her family still decided to travel to Tennessee and Telluride, and she was able to attend camp. Popular summer camps for students such as Camp Waldemar, Camp Greystone and Camp Longhorn will be resuming operation this summer after being restricted due to COVID-19. According to the same student survey, 17 percent of students attended summer camp, while this year, 75 percent of students will be attending.

“I go to Camp Longhorn and normally it is three weeks, but it was shortened to two weeks because of COVID-19,” Hill said. “Although it was shortened, I was still grateful to go and have fun.”

But Hill plans on traveling again this summer. Her family has not finalized their travel plans, but they have a couple of ideas.

“We are hoping to go to Hawaii if travel restrictions are lifted,” Hill said. “And so far, camp is scheduled to take place this summer.”

Freshman Will Grogan had big plans to travel to London, New York and Vienna last summer but all of his plans were put to a halt. This year, however, they are planning to travel.

“Because of the COVID-19 preventative measures taken by the government and restrictions placed, my family determined it was better to stay off airplanes and stay in the country,” Grogan said. “We will travel this summer no matter what because of increased COVID-19 vaccinations in and around the U.S. and because of more lenient CDC guidelines in travel.”

Grogan’s current plans include going to California, Austria, Switzerland, England and Italy for several academic summer programs and vacations.

“Hopefully this summer everyone can be flexible and expect the possibility of their plans changing. I also hope everyone can be prepared for the worst if they have to stay home” Grogan said.

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