First hand travel experience amid COVID-19

The fear and joys of traveling abroad during spring break

Spring break has been known as a time where college students travel to have a fun vacation from school. This spring break we decided to go to Paris, France for a week and embrace the tourist life in Paris! However, this trip we were so excited to go on suddenly got disrupted when President Trump made the announcement that the borders were closing to certain groups traveling from European countries back into the USA.

It was 2 a.m. on Thursday, March 12th in Paris when the announcement was made. Our phones began to blow up with phone calls and texts from people back home. Everyone was telling us to get on the next flight home as soon as possible. Fear began to consume us and the worry of whether we’d be allowed back into the country or if our flights would be cancelled.

We immediately began to pack our suitcases and get ready to head to the airport. After arriving at the airport, we began to look if we could talk to someone and find a way to change our tickets. However, we found out customer service for our airline didn’t open until 4:30 a.m. 

We decided to wait until 4:30 a.m. since it was only about an hour until that time. Once customer service was open we rushed over to talk to them. Unfortunately, they explained that Norwegian Airlines doesn’t have a representative at this airport and that we needed to call their number.

By this point we were frustrated, worried and beyond tired. We decided it would be best to get a hotel near the airport to sleep for a few hours and try to call our airline to try our flights.

We called our airline over and over again and got no answer. We tried to change our flight to another day, but everything was sold out. At this point, it seemed like we would never make it back home. The fear of getting stuck in Paris began to grow more and more. Although we knew we could return to the United States, there was fear that our flight would be canceled or that Paris would go on lockdown. As amazing as Paris was the last thing we wanted was to be stuck in a foreign country.

After trying to sleep for a few hours, we decided to return back to the airport and try to talk to another airline. We had decided that if all else failed we could try to fly into another state in the United States so that at least we wouldn’t be stuck in Paris. 

As we returned back to the airport, we were eventually able to talk to someone who tried to help us find flights back. The problem we faced was that flights back home were over $2,000 each. Even with a credit card, we couldn’t afford to pay that much for a ticket. 

We stuck around the hotel contemplating what we should do. By this point Norwegian Airlines had updated their website with information regarding the travel restrictions. Norwegian Airlines had explained that they did not intend on canceling any flights. At this point, we gained a little bit of peace. However, a lot could change between Thursday morning and Saturday, the day we intended to leave. 

We didn’t know what to do. We had planned to go to Disneyland Paris on Thursday and the Catacombs of Paris on Friday. However, we didn’t even have a desire to go out and explore Paris when all this was happening, but we also had been looking forward to this trip for so long. We decided to go to Disneyland Paris and make the most of the rest of our trip. Although we experienced a period of chaos and fear for about 24 hours, we made the most of our trip and enjoyed our time traveling in Paris. 

Once we returned to LAX, there was so much fear of whether we’d be quarantined or what kind of screening we’d have to undergo. As we got off the plane, we were directed to Customs and then CDC had a separate area for us to go through. As we entered CDC’s area, we had to fill out forms and undergo screening to see if we had symptoms of the COVID-19. After about 3 hours of going through customs and CDC’s screening, we were finally able to drive back home. 

Traveling during our spring break to Paris was very risky and chaotic, but getting this opportunity to travel out of the country was stunning and worth every second of chaos.

Authors:  Nikki Campos & Austin Noronha 

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