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Getting Back Out There

Nicolle Kain | Feb 1, 2022

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Young girl laughing while on a beach.

Oh, how I’ve missed traveling! Not being able to step outside of the house and explore new places has been torture. Now the vaccine is out, the weather is nice, and businesses are opening back up. While this is a good sign for those ready to book a trip, there is still some uncertainty.

Do you need to be vaccinated to fly? Should you get tested for COVID-19 before you leave? What are the restrictions? The rules? These were just some of the questions bouncing around my brain as I started to plan my first trip since the pandemic started.

I stood at the gate of Terminal 3 at O’Hare International Airport. Bag? Check. I.D.? Check. Mask? Check. It’s June 2021, and the airport is slightly crowded. As I pass through security, the man behind the glass asks me to pull down my mask to verify my I.D. The line to the Starbucks register snakes around the pods of people hustling to catch their flight. I navigate through the terminal to my flight headed to San Francisco. We wait for the “deep cleaning and sanitation” to be complete before boarding. The pilot welcomes us on board with a smile, or at least I’m assuming he was smiling. “Everyone on board must wear a face mask over their nose and chin for the entire duration of the flight. You may pull it down to eat or drink, but please immediately put it back over your mouth when you are done. If you fall asleep with your mask down, we, unfortunately, must wake you up for you to fix it,” the flight attendant announces multiple times throughout the 4-hour trip. I had gone to urgent care a few days before to secure a negative COVID-19 test result, just in case I needed it to fly. Currently, airports are not requiring this for those traveling domestically. International travel is a little more complicated. To learn more about traveling out of the country, visit Travel | CDC.

I’ve never been to California, but I found a hotel deal on Travelzoo, compared flight prices (How to Score the Best Flight Deals | Seven Corners), and felt an adventure calling my name. Feelings of excitement and nervousness swirled around in my stomach as we prepared for takeoff.

We landed in Oakland International Airport around 8:30 in the morning. Pro Tip for anyone looking to visit San Francisco: fly into Oakland. Oakland is just across the bridge from the City by the Bay, and the airport there is significantly less crowded and not as expensive. We chose to Uber everywhere we couldn’t walk. This seemed to be the easiest way to get around. One Uber driver was even nice enough to drive us down Lombard Street, “the Crookedest Street in the World”!

The first thing on our agenda was a bike tour. Biking is quite popular in San Francisco, and a bike tour is one of the best ways to see the city. The tour took us across the Golden Gate Bridge into the town of Sausalito. Going across the bridge should be on your list of “must-dos” for sure.  Although it can be a little nerve-wracking, the view is incredible!

Another Pro Tip: make sure you book tickets to see Alcatraz Island at least a month in advance. Tickets sell out very quickly, and this is something you won’t want to miss. We saw the famous former prison on our second day in the Golden Gate City. Upon stepping off the ferry, you are given an audio tour narrated by inmates and wardens that lived on The Rock when it was operational. It was so cool to see.

Apart from Alcatraz, I would argue that San Francisco is known for its cable cars. Do you know the difference between a cable car and a trolley? Or a trolley and a streetcar? San Fransisco has them all! Unfortunately, these famous modes of transportation were not available this summer. The cable cars, which had run nonstop for over 100 years, were temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreaks. I guess this means I’ll just have to come back!

During our time in San Francisco, we also visited Alamo Square, home of the Seven Painted Ladies, the famous line of Victorian townhouses. This spot is perfect for a picnic with a view of the San Francisco skyline. If you have the time, I also recommend taking a stroll down Grant Avenue, one of the oldest streets in Chinatown. The delicious food and fascinating culture are worth the extra steps, in my opinion.

I only spent the weekend in this incredible city, but it was certainly a trip for the books! There is so much to see and do here, from eating at Fisherman’s Wharf to walking down the beach. It was nice to go on a little weekend adventure, but I’m excited to be back at my desk at Seven Corners. Traveling is a passion of mine, and I love being able to help others fulfill their travel passions too!

What’s your first trip back to travel going to be? Let Seven Corners help you get there!

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