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I know, I know. Reading the title, you must be thinking, why on Earth would I travel during these times and be so vocal about it? I don’t blame you. I felt absolutely terrible about having to travel, but, in this article, I will be discussing my experience with this trip. 

Precautions I Took

Making sure I was safe and healthy before my trip was a top priority of mine. I made sure to only go out when necessary (which meant only going to school and work), drinking lots of EmergenC, and doing lots of online shopping. 

Before boarding the plane, Hawaii required:

  • Travelers take a COVID test 72 hours in advance

  • Creating an account on their Safe Travels website where I had to post my COVID test results, a recent picture of me, my travel information, and fill out questionnaires. 

  • Checking-in with a QR code that the Safe Travels website provided me with after inputting all of the required documents and information at the airport in San Francisco. 

Hawaii isn’t playing around! They’re not letting just anyone in, and I appreciated that. As anxious as I was about having to travel, knowing that they were making sure travelers were COVID-free was comforting. 

Getting There

Traveling from Orlando to Oahu was a long and exhausting process. From MCO to LA and LA to SFO and SFO to HNL, we traveled for a total of 12 hours (not including the 4-hour layovers). Each airport played audio on a loop telling people to keep their masks on, and everyone was anxiously walking around wearing gloves and carrying sparkly Bath & Body Works hand sanitizers. It was a surreal experience and a shocking contrast to when I last traveled to Chicago back when COVID first struck in March of 2020. 

My best friend and I, despite our exhaustion, had a blast at our layovers. We got to see LA for the very first time, ate lunch at In & Out (the Animal Style Fries were yummy!), and we met a funny uber driver who raved about Disney World. We got to see LAX airport fashion in all of its glory and were shocked at how many people were flaunting designer clothes, shoes and bags. Culture shock is definitely an understatement.

While in Honolulu

Yes, the process to get there was intense, but boy was it worth it. Honolulu was an absolute dream — I’m still pinching myself, to be honest. The people were nothing but kind to us, the food was delicious and the views were stunning. We enjoyed our time so much, we began coming up with hypothetical scenarios about moving there for a few months, meeting the men of our dreams and eating poke bowls every day.

Some funny highlights from the trip include:

  • My camera falling out of my backpack and an MCO employee yelling “Ayy mamiii!” 

  • Watching the iCarly One Direction episode on the flight to SFO

  • Waking up at 5 a.m. to hike up mountains (where I left a little piece of my soul each time)

  • Eating Poke bowls at the Foodland parking lot where a supposed famous surfer and his friend proceeded to shotgun a beer, burp, and yell “Happy Superbowl Sunday” all while staring us down in attempts to get our attention

  • Having to find parking blocks away from where we were staying and walking so much I got a blister on my left foot on the first day of our trip

  • Gabbi meeting Hannah Meloche at North Shore, but being too star-struck to get a picture

  • A local concerned with Gabbi’s driving and yelling “GO GO” to help her turn right — so unnecessary, but appreciated

  • A local coming in with us on an elevator, staring at me and my sunburn and proceeding to say “You guys aren’t from here, right?”

  • A homeless guy spraying pee on his back and talking to himself at the beach

  • Watching surfers at North Shore split their surfboards and everyone going “OOOOH”

  • Gabbi making a five-year plan with a Hawaiian guy she met on Tinder

  • Trying Loco Moco for the first time and getting instant (warning) diarrhea

  • Having Coffee Bean every day from which I would instantly get hyper

  • Laughing at the fact that the weekly positive results in Hawaii went down to 1% while we were there, versus in Florida where that statistic is not even possible (we probably get 1% in less than an hour)

Needless to say, we had a blast. I don’t encourage traveling during a pandemic, but if you absolutely have to, make sure to take the necessary precautions to stay healthy and protect others. 

Yaymelí Meléndez is a Senior at UCF majoring in advertising-public relations with a minor in event management. A few things she is passionate about include: writing, music, photography, movies, k-pop, and sushi. When she's not listening to the TMG podcast or music, going out with friends to drink Boba, or watching Friends re-runs, she spends her time reading and writing about all things pop culture. Be sure to follow her on Instagram to keep up with her escapades: @yaymeli.m
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