Ilana Kisilinsky and her husband Yosef had planned to visit Europe this summer. The question was, where?
With COVID restrictions often changing across the continent, planning a route was difficult, said Kisilinsky, 29. The Oakland couple booked tickets to London last month.
But two weeks ago, Kisilinsky was informed that their flights, which allegedly took off from Toronto, had been canceled. At this point they asked themselves, “What is available and what can we do? ” she said.
The couple have booked new flights for their July getaway. The plan, at least for now, Kisilinsky said, is to depart from Pittsburgh, stop in Newark and land in Paris. After spending a few days in France, they will travel to Italy before returning to Paris and finally to Pittsburgh. Before they leave Pittsburgh, they will be tested for COVID. Although they are both fully vaccinated and have been told that their vaccination records should be sufficient in France and Italy, they believe that a recent negative COVID test could be useful.
Despite the constant verification of COVID requirements across Europe, the rules may change, Kisilinksy acknowledged. Yet she “tries not to let that anxiety get over what the trip will be.”
Kisilinksy and her husband are among a growing number of people looking to travel this summer: According to the AAA, more than 47 million Americans are expected to fly or drive over the July 4 bank holiday weekend. These figures would mark the second highest volume of travel on record for Independence Day.
Ari Goldberg, a Squirrel Hill resident, hopes to avoid the holiday crowds, so he and his wife, Rachel, fly to Florida a few days earlier with friends. The three-day trip will be the first time the vaccinated couple have traveled by plane since the start of the pandemic.
Goldberg is not worried about moving away “from a COVID point of view,” he said, but he is concerned about the behavior of other travelers, as the media has noted “heightened anxiety among people travelling”.
Goldberg has reviewed the CDC’s recommendations and plans to follow them throughout the trip.
“There is still a certain level of fear and anxiety, but you still have to live your life,” he said. “Otherwise, what’s the point of all this?”
Zelienople resident Tracy Brien has thought about travel a lot lately.
Brien and his family have just returned from a 12-day road trip to Maine, the excursion inspired by a similar adventure in 2020. Last year, just after quarantine restrictions ended, the family of five headed west in a 32ft Class C motorhome. In two weeks, the Briens visited 17 states and seven national parks. This year, while cruising in the same RV, the Briens didn’t travel so many states, but they saw Acadia National Park in Maine.
“Acadia was amazing,” said Brien, 39. “Being on Cadillac Mountain was amazing.”
Instead of driving the RV to the top, the family rented a smaller vehicle in Maine and took Summit Road. After reaching the top, they watched the sun go down.
“It was literally like being on top of the world,” Brien said.
Brien’s children are 6, 9 and 11 years old. Although she and her husband are vaccinated, the children are not yet eligible, so they remained masked around the others and the family tried to get away as best they could.
It will still be some time before children under 12 are eligible for vaccinations – as of June 23, the UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh was enrolling children aged 6 months to 12 years in a pediatric COVID vaccine trial -19 – but Brien said there are safe and economical ways to travel with children if people want to get away from it all this summer.
“Even if you can’t rent an RV, you can camp,” she said. “If you have a car and you’re a road triper, you can stay in a KOA (Kampgrounds of America), you can pitch a tent.”
Traveling offers a chance to see the great beauty of America, Brien explained.
“Giving our children these experiences and seeing these parks through their eyes is priceless to us,” she said. PJC
Adam Reinherz can be contacted at [email protected]