The New Travel Normal
This was our first time to fly since before The Virus took over the world. And I realized something that day: flying in masks is the new normal.
“Can’t wait for things to get back to normal” is something we’ve all said more times than we can count, but I think most of us know by now that we’ll never fully return to the world we knew before quarantines and banned mass gatherings. As we sat on the plane in our masks, I thought about how there’s no reason in the world to think traveling with masks is going anywhere anytime soon. Or anytime ever.
Planes have always been little cesspools of sickness, and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t be—hundreds of humans sharing a small space that is used day after day. I can fondly recall many many long-haul flights I’ve shared with people who spent the whole night coughing. Oh and all those kids with snotty noses sneezing on me and my toddler. A study was done back in 2015 that showed the seat-back tray table is the filthiest place on the plane. Honestly I can’t think of any place requiring masks makes more sense.
What’s funny is that Katie and I have been wearing masks on plane rides for the last couple of years, but we were doing it to help with the dry air, not so much the germs1. But there was something different about our flight last week. Last week, we had to wear the masks. From the moment we walked into the first airport until the moment we walked out the second, we had those masks tied to our faces.
As we were on the bus headed out to board our plane, I looked down at Justus and thought, This is his new normal. Whether we stick to masks as we know them now or not, he’s the first generation that will be raised in a world that is hyper aware of the threat of a worldwide pandemic. He and his friends will learn about how we used to travel with hundreds of strangers from all over the world and not wear any protection at all and they will be dumbfounded: ”What did you think was going to happen?!” they’ll say in disbelief.
As I looked down at him while we waited in that bus, I was sad that it has to be like this. But I also realized that even if it doesn’t have to be like this, this way makes a whole lot of sense. The three of us have come down with a sickness more than once after one of our around-the-world jaunts. Pandemic virus or not, this is probably better for all of us. So I’m going to do my best not to complain about it.