Column: Travel with caution in the time of Omicron


Maddy Maes

Chicagoans take the CTa in winter

With the weather in Chicago growing colder by the day, it can seem enticing for many to book a trip to a warmer climate. It can be easy to imagine flying to Hawaii or Cancun, away from the long waits at the L station, hands freezing and ears burning, but we are still in the throes of a pandemic. Many people have made dubious statements about the true impact of the virus, claiming that we have receded into an endemic state. For vaccinated, able-bodied citizens with healthy immune systems, this may be the case, and the virus may not be as deadly for them. Regardless, the question still remains of not whether you can travel, but whether you should. 

It is important to note that even if you want to travel, some countries aren’t allowing entry for foreigners. Recently, the Study Abroad Office at DePaul University cancelled a host of their spring trips and some summer trips due to varying factors. Both summer Japan trips (Japan: Computer Animation and Gaming and Japan: Design and Culture) were cancelled due to the country no longer allowing foreigners to enter for extended casual stay, but other factors, such as communication with sponsors and whether or not the instructors themselves feel safe travelling, also applied to the decision to cancel the trips. 

We are not near enough to the end of the coronavirus pandemic to call it an endemic state. Recent studies show that even if you receive the booster or the vaccine, you are still vulnerable to the disease. Having the vaccine itself may or may not allow you to travel internationally, and things are always changing. Just as in the early stages of the pandemic, an outbreak could leave you stranded at an airport due to flight cancellations, or worse, stuck in the country for much, much longer than you anticipated.

Outside of the question of ethics, or the possibility of getting the virus yourself, I believe that travelling is an incredibly dangerous and expensive option right now. Most likely the attractions you want to see will all be closed, and you will only get a half-baked experience of the real trip for the same cost. Adding to that the danger of contracting the disease, the possibility of being stranded in a different country or state and possibly passing on the disease to others, it doesn’t seem like the most viable option right now. 

However, there isn’t a way to fully suspend travel. Many people need to travel for family or events they can’t skip, so I propose that if you were to go out of state, you keep your trips as short and concise as possible. Maybe only travel for a weekend instead of a week, which allows you to save money and balance your time there as well as protect against the virus. Other than that, taking unnecessary flights to events you can afford to miss should not be attempted, just due to the inherent danger, and you should try to find a way to stay warm and have fun at home.