CLP Editor Chris Wolski recently took a trip bookended by COVID testing that gave him peace of mind as he traveled to and from his destination.

By Chris Wolski

I recently took a much-needed bucket-list international trip. While it wasn’t a busman’s holiday in the sense that my professional work collided with my leisure time, COVID testing formed the bookends of this vacation, and provided the kind of peace of mind that often seems a distant memory when traveling in the post-COVID world.

Before departing, I was required to take a COVID PCR test. This meant a holiday season in near isolation with lots of Zoom calls filling in for traditional holiday revelry. Thankfully all of my holing up paid off. My COVID test was negative, and I jetted off to the ends of the Earth with the peace of mind that my adventure would not be interrupted by any variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Because I was with a group of COVID-negative fellow travelers, isolated on a small ship, we had a bubble, and a sense of normalcy. Peace of mind never felt so good.

But outrunning a virulent pathogen is impossible. As I arrived home, I felt a sting in the throat, a filling of sinus cavities, and an ache in my hands. For me, in the pre-COVID age, those were the telltale signs of an allergy attack/sinus infection (my trip included traveling to significantly different climates and eight flights total, so an overload of histamines was in the realm of possibility). But I needed to be sure, and that meant COVID testing. This time it was an at-home antigen test and anxiously awaited the results.

It had taken three years and a trip to the literal end of the Earth, but there was no doubt: I had COVID. Thankfully, my symptoms were quite mild (a tribute to the vaccines for sure), but I had the peace of mind of knowing for sure that I had COVID. This allowed me to take the appropriate actions to minimize contact with others and get better.

I felt better, tested again, and finally was negative. Peace of mind, again. I could rejoin the world and get back to my daily life.

With the emergency declaration due to end in May and insurers already charging for tests (I received a not inexpensive bill for the PCR test), I am concerned that COVID testing will be seen as unnecessary—the emergency is officially over, right? Testing didn’t help me avoid COVID, but it gave me the knowledge and peace of mind to enjoy a perspective-changing trip and take the right steps to get over my illness. Ignorance may be bliss for some people, but I’ll take knowing any day.

Chris Wolski is chief editor of CLP.