Welcome to level eight of the pandemic, in which we transition from full mountain hermit to shy and giddy crustacean, venturing into the world, fully vaccinated and ready for a proper vacation, although still figuring out where it's safe to responsibly pursue one. Iceland, for one, is now opening up to vaccinated travelers. So are a few other countries, but we’re mostly just excited (and ready) to see our long-distance friends in other cities without as much fear. Indeed, if you are fully vaccinated, says the CDC, “you can start doing many things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic”—including hopping on a domestic flight and crashing on your (hopefully also vaxxed) buds’ couches. If you’re fully juiced on Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J, “you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel [in the United States],” the CDC bosses say.
It feels damn good, if weird and surreal.
We’ve adapted to a life of talking to our houseplants, wearing no pants, and forcing chicken crossbody bags to be our anthropomorphic BFF. Some of us might not feel ready to emerge from the mist, let alone bust into #HotGirlSummer fanfare, given how little access to vaccines other countries have. (“Most countries in Africa,” notes one study, “and a few in Asia and South America are in the [major] risk groups for vaccine inaccessibility.” VICE also spoke to a cremator at the center of India’s COVID-19 hell. In many places, the COVID situation is still very bad.) So, for the love of Michael Shannon and literally everyone else: Read the room. Slap on the Purell, and keep up the culture of mask wearing (by… wearing a mask) whenever and wherever mandated or even just recommended. Then you can get ready to massage, bon voyage, and go kiss mommy for Mother’s Day knowing you’re super-protected.
If you have any lingering vaccine questions, we've got you. Now, we want you to turn that nervous traveler’s laugh upside down, grab a holographic vax card holder case, and enjoy the weekend trip you had to postpone this time last year.
The following vaxxed traveler starter pack has but a few humble intentions. We want to keep your hands lubed up on hand sani, and your plane-face protected by a sturdy KN95. We want you to charge your phone in a giant strawberry, and to document your long-awaited travels with a primo disposable camera. We’re all still learning how to do this, but making the precautionary COVID-19 tasks feel more streamlined (with, say, the right toiletries kit) is a great place to start.
Start by securing the literal bag (like this 5-star roller, which is on sale)
One-click locks. Rollers like a dancer. An aluminum frame that can be pounded to death. This is one of those luggage pieces that manages to have a swank ass presence (and looooong lifespan) and a chiller-than-thou luggage presence adjacent to its cousin, the Rimowa (only it’s not $1,080). “I love the finish,” writes one reviewer, “It's not too shiny, it’s kind of a matte finish. [And] I love the fact that the corners are reinforced”; “Zipperless is the best & the TSA [locks are] a great bonus,” writes another. Get it in a lowkey, slightly intimidating matte red. It’s time.
Jen Atkin Large Luggage $385 $269.50 at CALPAK
The softer boi
Maybe you’re just doing a weekender and don’t want to a) drop a significant chunk of cash on luggage and b) bring toooo much stuff with you. (Checking a bag can be the pits, after all.) Luggage isn’t cheap, but there are deals to be found. Like, for instance, Patagonia’s instant-classic Black Hole bag, which is a generous size for a warm-weather jaunt to your “fun city” or choice, but also comes with numerous strap options for keepin’ it comfy, backpack-style, over the shoulder, or just grab and go. Plus, it comes in a bunch of nice colors like “Hot Ember” red, “Peppergrass Green,” and our personal fave, “Coriander Brown.”
Patagonia Black Hole 55L Duffel Bag, $139 at Backcountry
The it-bag of the summer
…is just a carrying case for your vaccine card. We’ve gone in-depth on the blossoming array of vaccine card carriers, which include mostly weirdly specific Dad Joke designs, monogrammed leather horse girl energy, or even ones that feel very Lisa Frank. Get one, or a few—but protect thine magic card before the voyage.
Vaccine Card Holder, $18.99 at Etsy
“We would’ve made out at pre-two-weekend-era Coachella”
Photo: Black Owned Everything
You hot, walking tab of acid. You’re somehow the most approachable, but intimidating person at Laguardia Airport in these sweatpants (which do have pockets. Ka-chinggggg). Is there anything wrong with just picking up some classic Champion jawns for $30? Of course not. But in theeese, you’re definitely the fleeting airport crush we’ll impose three-and-a-half hours of fantasy on (respectfully).
Aliette Les Salines Sweatpant, $325 $195 at Black Owned Everything
A coze travel zip-up
Hot, but not too hot. Minimal and adult-feeling in design, but still feels like you have a bunch of invisible teddy bears on your chest. This polar fleece is the golden child of Nike’s Polartec collab, IMO, because it has all the bells and whistles we want [takes deep breath] including raglan sleeves, two-way zip closure, elasticity in the hem and cuffs; plus, a nylon jersey lining, a standing collar, and that nylon ripstop trim smooches air throughout.
Nike lack NOCTA NRG AU Polar Fleece Jacket, $200 at SSENSE
If your legs swell up, try compression socks
You know those days when you just want someone to sit on your whole body, ever so gently but intently, and crush it into stardust? Do you, too, have a family history of blood clotting? Welcome to compression socks [makes hand-rainbow] which “are specially designed to apply pressure to your lower legs, helping to maintain blood flow and reduce discomfort and swelling,” to quote the NHS. That’s damn important, whilst travelling and sitting on your tuckus for hours. Traditionally, compression socks look like the Tron trailer. Which is tight. But we also dig these, which will make you look like a seasoned Venetian gondolier with many secrets.
Knee-High Compression Socks, $23 at Comrad
Tune everyone out
Yes, we are once again asking you to buy some Howard Leight earplugs for napping. They will make you feel like you’re in a zero-gravity rocket to slumber town, traveling far away from the bro behind you who won’t shut up about his cryptocurrency.
Howard Leight by Honeywell Low Pressure Disposable Foam Shooting Earplugs (5 Pack), $2.95 at Amazon
A Mary Poppins bag of luxury toiletries
Ah, Aesop. Now there’s a cult with staying power. One can one spot a lil bottle of their earthy-fresh hand soap in what feels like every Architectural Digest home tour video at this point (start with Kris Jenner; binge your way to Troye Sivan). Yes, joining this cult is an indulgence. (But please consider our treatise on why that splurge is worth it, in These Strange and Uncertain Times). That’s what makes this travel bundle such a sick deal. For a little over the price of one regular hand soap, you get seven fancy schmancy items, like hand wash, hydrating hand balm, and a chamomile face mask, as well as a face mist that feels like someone is tossing rose petals on you, and toothpaste to have you makeout-ready upon landing.
Departure Travel Kit, $53 at Aesop
At this point, you probably know that KN95 masks are some of the swollest out there for protection against COVID-19 (filtering up to 95 percent of particles, according to the CDC). The black ones match everything, and have a very Blues Brothers effect with the right sunglasses.
Black KN95 Face Mask (50 Pack), $69.74 $39.74 at Amazon
A portable charger you can (actually) see in your bag
Photo: Free People
…because it’s a giant strawberry. You big, clever baby. Or are you a travelling hedgehog? Perhaps the main character of a certain 1980s children's book (IYKYK)? Keep taking selfies. We’re obsessed with you.
Strawberry Portable Charger, $30 at Free People
A lightweight ‘pop-up’ bag for your spontaneous purchases
Is there a better bag in the game than the wumbo boys at BAGGU? They’re super lightweight, and are perfect for stashing that $18 egg salad sandwich you bought at LAX. Their classic bag is also washable, so you can purge it of its accumulated travel scents and have it fresh for a day of vacation shopping.
Big BAGGU, $16 at BAGGU
A shot of caffeine
Who knows what the caffeine situation will be upon arrival, or at the departure bus terminal. Have some concentrated coffee on-hand so that you can juice up to your heart’s content without having to ask your host to run the Bunn again. This magic little bottle by Jot will match your stupid wonderful fancy Aesop travel set, and give you 14 cups of coffee.
Ultra Coffee, $24 at Jot
Just make a new beanie your eye mask
Why did it take us so many years to figure this out? Get a new Carhartt beanie, and pull it over your eyes to zonk out during takeoff—but get a lime green one so that your bud can spot your pretty little head bobbing in at Arrivals.
Carhartt Men's Knit Cuffed Beanie, $16.99 at Amazon
Take a palm-sized vibrator
You will thank yourself (or your partner will thank you). A bullet vibrator takes up as much space as lip balm, so make a habit of keeping one in your luggage for travel purposes alone. The ever cutting-edge sex toy engineers at Dame have made their bullet vibe USB rechargeable (suuuuper rare for bullet vibrators, which normally run on batteries and are très wasteful) as well as water-resistant. They’re also offering a discount on orders over $50 for Mother’s Day!
Zee Bullet Vibrator, $30 at Dame
Oh, and don’t forget a disposable camera
We had some of our photographer buds try different disposable cameras, from Ilford, Fujifilm, Kodak, and more, and give us their notes. As far as post-COVID travel goes, we're thinking of trying a black and white one, for the drama. As our photog reviewer Daniel Topete wrote, “I love that XP2 film is developed in C-41 chemicals so you can get it developed anywhere without the cost and time of B+W processing.”
Ilford XP2 Super Single Use Camera with 27 Exposures, $10.99 at B&H Photo
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