The serial monotony of the pandemic period kept many otherwise frequent travelers grounded. Certainly, many continued to travel, and others have already returned to routine, but my situation kept me pretty much grounded until now. So, as I’m writing this column, I’m also dusting off a suitcase and preparing to head to the airport in a few days.
This year’s IAFP marks yet another milestone in the return to normal, at least for me. The emails to colleagues are sent, the meetings arranged, and the countdown clock to departure day is running. The anticipation of seeing familiar faces again is tinged with a slight anxiety, too. The return to normal isn’t quite complete, is it? Let’s see: There’s another coronavirus variant brewing, extreme flight delays, and last—but not least—recent WHO headlines about monkeypox to consider. Believe me, that’s one I didn’t have on my traveling risks bingo card and is not even close to normal.
I have to connect through Atlanta to get anywhere, so interrupted travel is more routine for me than most—way more routine. So, I can comfortably put that in the return-to-normal bucket. We have a new puppy that loves to chew things so much we named him Chewy. So, have I hidden all of my shoes? (He’s gotten six pairs so far.) What about the TV remotes? (We lost one.) Are all the power tools in a place he can’t get to? (Yes, he’s even chewed up a power drill.) Are all the power cords tucked away? Check.
As for the rest? Packing is like riding a bike: Once you learn how to do it, you never really forget. Device chargers? Check. Comfy shoes? Check. But even this is a little different now. Will most people be wearing masks? Will masks be enough protection for traveling? How many do I need to bring? Disposable or fabric? Comical statement or designer fabric? These questions mark new ground to consider. Black disposable masks? Check.
On a more serious note, I’m looking forward to sharing my new role at Food Quality & Safety with colleagues I haven’t seen for a while. It will be interesting to reengage on the pre-pandemic issues facing the food safety sector and learning about new ideas by attending as many sessions as possible. I’m excited to learn more about what others have been doing and can’t wait to apply that knowledge to future issues of FQ&S.
As always, send me your thoughts at [email protected]