The CDC has made its announcement. The federal mask mandate has been extended through May 3rd. The federal mask mandate applies to all airports, train stations, bus terminals, ride shares (i.e. Uber and Lyft), and all transportation entities. Everyone was looking forward to April 18th potentially being the final day that facial coverings would be while traveling. Unfortunately, the CDC decided to extend the mandate to May 3rd. Two weeks can’t be that bad, right? As the saying goes, “Patience is a virtue!”. It is as true as the day it was first said. May 4th is the new date for all Americans to look forward to. As another two week wait commences, what can travelers look forward to come May 4th? Oh, are travelers thinking of the things do come that day. If anyone could think of the top five things which two weeks of patience can buy post-COVID, here they are.

5) Sharing a friendly smile: For two years, travelers couldn’t express themselves facially with masks on. While on board trains and planes, travelers couldn’t talk or smile without a mask on. For heaven’s sake, they couldn’t even eat or drink anything without a mask on. May 4th potentially brings an end to those two years of frustration and impatience. With May 4th just around the corner, travelers can all look forward to sharing that smile they’ve been hiding for two years. For two years, travelers couldn’t smile at the flight attendants. Flight attendants couldn’t do likewise. Let May 4th be the very day the simple sharing of a smile resume. Not for just one day, but for the long run. It’s what the travel world has lacked for two years; two years, too long.

4) A friendly and confident “Hello”: For two years, travelers’ spirits have been in the toilet. Sure, wearing a facial covering on every train, plane, and in every ride-share vehicle has taken away the joy of traveling. That’s the truth! There’s no substitution for the truth. There is however, no substitution for a friendly “Hello!”, or “Good morning!”, when boarding the train or plane. It’s how every trip starts! Business or pleasure, it’s the right way to begin every journey. When we say “Hello!” or “Good morning!”, there’s a particular manner in which we say it. With a mask on, it’s an empty “Hello!”. It’s an unenthusiastic “Good morning!”. Travelers can’t wait to communicate with flight attendants, pilots, train conductors, and Uber drivers in a friendly manner. Starting May 4th, all travelers should share that friendly “Hello!” or “Good morning” with a friendly smile, and a shot of confidence. For two years, that friendliness has been lacking tremendously. May 4th, patience will pay off. Each and every traveler can share that smile hidden for so long. A friendly “Hello” and smile travel a great distance!

3) A friendly conversation with a stranger: Undoubtedly, the COVID pandemic kept us apart. Everyone was forced to stay away from one another. Social distancing created much confusion amongst all Americans. The friendly in-person conversation went away. Case in point, all travelers cannot wait to strike up that friendly conversation with a stranger. In every friendly conversation, there’s much that travelers learn from each other. That’s what traveling is all about. Everyone’s a stranger, until the friendly words of “Hello!”, or “Good morning!” are exchanged. Traveling is meant to bring people together; not keep people apart. The next time on board the plane or train, and beverages are served, passengers should propose a toast to a long-awaited, overdue “friendly conversation”.

2) Sharing a friendly spark of encouragement: If there is anything that travel atmosphere lacked the most throughout the past two years, it was the sense of encouragement. The media would not shut up about the pandemic. All they’ve done was talk negatively about it, and the damage it’ll impose. Politicians wouldn’t shut up in their war of words over the pandemic. Sadly, the advice of health experts was greatly undermined by both the media and political figures. Atop it all, travel experts found it difficult to share any encouragement with the traveling public on what to do or what to believe. What a quagmire! Come May 4th, let the sense of encouragement overflow throughout the train, the plane, and bus. Picture the scene-two Miami-bound travelers sitting next to each other on the plane. One is a business traveler. The other passenger is flying to Miami for a week to unwind from work. The business traveler is preparing to give a big revenue presentation just two hours after arrival. What happens? While the vacationing passenger may be daydreaming about Haulover Beach and the endless nightlife, he takes a moment to share with the business traveler the friendly words, “You’re gonna do awesome! Go get’em!”. The business passenger accepts his friendly words and says “Thanks so much. Enjoy the beach! Do me a postcard!”. That’s all that has to happen. That friendly encouragement, covered up by masks, has hidden something so special. The pandemic has undoubtedly kept us quiet. Wearing masks has made travelers become unsure of each other. Travelers are nervously thinking, “Are they vaccinated?”. Let there be no mistake that on May 4th, the joyful act of sharing a friendly hint of encouragement makes another traveler’s day worthwhile.

1) Sharing a friendly sense of appreciation: Throughout the past two years, the one most vital concept that has lacked in all aspects of the travel world has been sharing a sense of appreciation. During the pandemic, where did it go? It seemed as if everyone grew so apart from each other and so unsure of each other’s vaccination status, that the appreciation for each other went out the window. Pilots, flight attendants, train conductors, bus drivers, and taxi cab drivers all became afterthoughts. Yes, they have been making sure everyone is wearing a mask at all times to ensure their health and safety, and not to pose as enemies. It seemed as if the pandemic made enemies of many. May 4th, the long-lingering sense of resentment and malintent is bound to disappear. It won’t happen overnight, but it is up to travelers whether they want to be appreciative of those who got them to their destination safely, or dislike them for kindly reminding them to fasten their seat belt and enjoy the flight. May 4th, that unrest is destined to disappear. Appreciation is the single greatest element in the travel world. Without it, no flight attendant, no pilot, no train conductor, and no Uber driver will feel respected and honored for what they do for a living. Without appreciation, no total stranger on board a plane or train can have a good day at work or a memorable week on the beach. Appreciation makes the world of travel go round.

Yes, the COVID pandemic has put a dent in the joys of travel. From pre and post-travel testing, to health and safety protocols at hotels, to mask wearing, to the suspension of everyday amenities, it has covered up the joys of it all. May 4th, the federal mask mandate is expected to be lifted FOR GOOD. The pandemic has tested the patience of travelers in all aspects. Every traveler has seen and heard it all. However, let it be said and understood that come May 4th, the five most invaluable elements of travel will joyfully resume. Masks may have covered them up, but on May 4th they will resume with confidence. What’s any trip without sharing a friendly smile? What’s any trip without sharing a friendly “Hello!”? No trip, business or pleasure, goes well without a friendly conversation with a stranger. Certainly, no trip whether business or pleasure, goes well without a friendly spark of encouragement. Above all, no trip of either type goes well without sharing a friendly hint of appreciation. Flight attendants, pilots, train conductors, bus drivers, and alike have all endured the worst of the pandemic. They’ve played an invaluable role in assuring travelers a safe journey no matter when or where. With all that being said, friendliness travels a great distance.

About Author

David Kriso has been a travel writer since August 2011. He is a contributing writer for both of his hometown's newspapers, The Gazette, and The Observer. His articles focus on cruise and railroad travel. David is also published online at ProwsEdge.com, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, Whistlestop.Amtrak.com. David also writes for the publication Examiner.com. On Examiner.com, he writes about cruise and rail travel. David is a long-time train traveler, avid cruiser, and a Disney traveler since age 4.

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