How I Roll: TPG Senior Travel Features Reporter Katherine Fan

Mar 7, 2021

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Welcome to a special COVID edition of How I Roll, an airport routine series with a focus on health and safety while traveling. Today, we’re asking TPG Senior Travel Features Reporter Katherine Fan a shortlist of questions about how she travels during the pandemic, covering everything from how she preps for a trip to what she wears on the plane. Here’s what she had to say. Safe travels!

The itinerary:

TPG: What is the last flight you caught?

KF: My last flights were round trip from Austin to Madison, WI, for a family member’s elopement, in February 2021.

TPG: Was the trip for business or pleasure?

KF: I used to be a wedding photographer, so I flew up to document the ceremony. So I guess the trip was a little bit of both?


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A post shared by Katherine Fan (@katherinefangirling)

TPG: With whom were you traveling? If you had a travel companion, what conversions did you have to align on safety precautions? Did you need to reassure them?

KF: I traveled solo, but I did take one trip with a friend in September 2020. She and I had similar precautionary perspectives and felt very comfortable around each other with the precautions we mutually took.

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TPG: Did you plan this trip pre-pandemic, or were these new travel plans?

KF: This trip was planned almost last-minute; elopements are hard to plan around!

TPG: What’s a trip you’re hoping to take in the future, that’s been put on hold?

KF: I really wanted to travel to Antarctica this past winter.

Related: Dreaming of Antarctica: How to book the trip of a lifetime

Pre-departure prep:

TPG: What does your pre-travel to-do list entail?

KF: I have COVID antibodies, so I now have a “second-class vaccine passport”: I have a doctor’s note clearing me to travel, and test results showing I am positive for antibodies as of early February 2021.

TPG: Are you getting a COVID test? If so, what kind?

KF:  I recently got an antibody test. After a quick telehealth appointment through my insurance provider, I was able to book a same-day test for $130 and have it fully refunded by insurance.

Packing strategy:

TPG: Are you purchasing any additional supplies, masks or protective gear for the trip?

KF: I’ve been sticking with my standard N95 mask.

Related: Face shields and sanitizer: 5 things we’re packing for flights during the pandemic

TPG: What are your carry-on essentials?

KF: I have a few extra masks stashed into various pockets of my travel backpack, just in case. One is a fabric mask, the rest are new-in-package surgical masks. Other than that, I’ve got the same usual items.

TPG: What’s your go-to travel outfit, and has it changed at all during the pandemic?

KF: I usually wear a black T, black hoodie, black leggings with pockets, and comfy sneaks. Not much has changed at all on my end. I am boringly basic, but I like to think of myself as a ninja.


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Before boarding:

TPG: Are you getting to the airport early or with just enough time to spare?

KF: I’m getting to the airport these days with a tiny bit of buffer to spare, but the airports have been super empty and I have TSA PreCheck so it’s usually faster than ever for me to get through security. Same for bag checks.

Related: 7 reasons to get TSA PreCheck now — even during a pandemic

TPG: How do you normally prefer to kill any extra time at the airport?

KF: I crash at an airport lounge, or just bum some free Wi-Fi to get some work done.

TPG: Has that changed at all?

KF: I haven’t really changed my airport habits much! I have avoided travel for the most part so when I do travel, I just relax a little bit and let things happen.

TPG: What is your airport food strategy?

KF: If there’s lounge food, I’ll eat that. If not, I buy a taco from my home airport and chow down. I really hate overpriced sandwiches and the super-hard cardboard “bread”, so I’ll actually skip meals if nothing looks palatable. I do love a good McDonald’s, though.

TPG: What differences have you noticed at the airport since the pandemic began?

KF:  It’s so much more empty in airports and on planes right now. And you look way more at people’s eyes to read their emotions, which is probably a nice thing! People leave so much more personal space; it’s awesome. And honestly, everyone seems a lot kinder. Also, this 36-year-old woman got ID’ed at a lounge bar so that’s flattering.

Inflight routine:

TPG: What is your strategy for choosing your seat on the plane?

KF: I used to be an aisle person, but now I’m a window seater. It helps that a lot of my flights have been pretty empty, so I still get the row (and aisle access) anyway.

Related: 7 tips for picking the perfect airplane seat every time

TPG: Do you eat or drink on the plane? Has that changed in any way?

KF:  I will eat/drink on the plane and put my mask back on immediately after.

TPG: Have you noticed any changes in in-flight service?

KF: Service is a lot calmer and very clean.

Everything else:

TPG: Overall, did you still enjoy traveling during the pandemic?

KF: I have definitely enjoyed the few trips I’ve taken. Being back on a plane is so great.

TPG: How much traveling have you done since the pandemic began?

KF: I’ve only taken two trips for family reasons (one funeral, one elopement) and one “time off” vacation in the last 12 months.

Related: Vaccines could be available to all adults by May: Is it time to start booking trips?

TPG: Any travel pearls of wisdom or hacks for flying right now?

KF: My best advice right now is to be respectful of others, be kind to everyone who’s working, and enjoy how much space and distance there is everywhere!

Rapid-fire questions:

Are you Team Ask or Not Ask when it comes to fellow travelers who aren’t wearing a mask?  I wouldn’t ask unless they were in the aisle or something, and then I’d ask a flight attendant to handle it.

Latex gloves — yay or nay?  Nay.

Favorite hand sanitizer brand? The one that smells like watermelon. I’ve only smelled it in places of business so I am not sure what’s going on there.

Favorite mask brand? Just like with water bottles, I’m a fan of the generic surgical masks that don’t make me sad if I lose or destroy them.

Favorite pandemic travel gear innovation?  I can’t think of a favorite pandemic innovation. Masks as fashion statements and conversation starters, perhaps?

Photo by Katherine Fan/The Points Guy

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