By Lori Chung
March 30, 2021
Family pictures of one of their last trips to see her sister in Florida seem a lifetime ago to Melissa Stahl and her daughter Emma.
“It will be 494 days since I’ve seen my sister Emily” said Stahl. “She’s my best friend, she’s Emma’s aunt, Emma’s actually named after her. This is the longest we’ve ever gone without seeing each other.”
As public schools go on Spring break, Stahl and her seven year old will leave their cat behind to fly south, cautiously traveling for the first time since the lockdown started.
“I feel safe because my mom is gonna like protect me” said Emma.
“It’s going to be me, my mom and Emma traveling. My mother and I are both fully vaccinated. My sister who we’re going to visit is fully vaccinated. That was really the deciding factor” said Stahl.
Despite higher vaccination rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising everyone to avoid unnecessary travel. However, Stahl is among a growing number of people who feel more comfortable traveling after a year of feeling cooped up.
According to the TSA, for at least 15 straight days this month, more than a million people passed through airport checkpoints. But, as airlines fare better than they did a year ago, hotels in the city are still reeling.
“Business travel, conventions, conferences those things are dead, dead, dead” said Vijay Dandapani, president and CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City.
Dandapani says a bump in the number of people traveling domestically hasn’t helped hotels which rely far more on international and business travel.
“We hope that at some point a vaccine passport, which has been announced by some airlines, will serve to bring people from abroad, because a foreign traveler brings in much more money than a domestic traveler” said Dandapani.
Stahl herself said she’ll be skipping the hotels in Florida, avoiding Disney and opting for a cabin instead. It’s a small cautious step back to normal.
“It’s been pretty isolating at times” said Stahl. “There’s hope now and that means a lot to me.”