Flying to France During COVID-19

Julia Himmelberger
September 4, 2021

Now that I’ve safely arrived in Paris, I thought it would be a good idea to explain how my travels went. 

The night before my flight, I went to bed early and woke up early to start getting more accustomed to the time difference (France is 6 hours ahead of the east coast). Doing this also made me more tired for my 5pm flight, so that I could sleep on the plane and feel more rested for my 6am landing in France. In retrospect, I probably should have started this routine a few days earlier, but I think it still benefited me in the end. 

I whizzed through airport security in Boston and boarded my flight. The flight attendants stood at the front of the plane to make sure everyone was wearing a surgical mask. Seeing my reusable fabric mask on my face, they stopped me to give me a surgical mask, but then they realized I was double masking and had a surgical mask underneath, so I was good to go. I hadn’t seen this distinction between types of masks before, but I was glad that they were being so vigilant. My plane wasn’t completely full so I had an open seat between me (window seat) and the other passenger (aisle). I watched a couple of shows, ate a mediocre airplane dinner, slept a little bit, and soon enough we had landed in Paris! 

I expected customs to be a long wait and more of a rigorous process, but I think arriving so early in the morning helped my case. There was no line, and they only needed to look at my CDC card and passport before stamping it and letting me through. My friends who arrived later had a very different experience (longer lines and more questions from customs officials), so I was happy that I could get through so easily. After picking up my checked bag at the baggage claim, I followed the signs to the taxi stand. In France, there are strict guidelines about taxi services, so there was someone there directing everyone to specific taxis. While customs was a breeze, the taxi ride was very long, as it was Monday morning rush hour. 

I arrived at my residence in Puteaux (just outside Paris) and felt very gross from the lack of sleep and food. I had forgotten how terrible jetlag feels! I drank lots of water and ate a granola bar and then went out into the city to meet the other students and do some exploring. By noon, I had gotten over the hump of exhaustion and jetlag and by bedtime, I was ready to sleep. Overall, my trip was uneventful, which is what you want when traveling! I’m now settling into Parisian life, with many more stories to tell—so stay tuned! In the meantime, here are a couple of tips if you’re traveling during the pandemic:

  1. Try and adjust your internal clock prior to arriving at your destination, so that you have less jetlag. When you arrive, stay awake until it’s bedtime at your destination. It’s hard but will help you in the long run.
  2. When food is handed out on the airplane, eat when other people are not eating, so that you are not unmasked at the same time as those near you. 
  3. Bring hand sanitizer or wipes with you. The airplane might provide them, but it never hurts to have some on hand.
  4. Wear a surgical mask on the plane, and have extras in your carry-on so that you can switch them out if yours gets damp or dirty. 


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Julia Himmelberger

<p>Hi! My name is Julia (she/her) and I'm from Wellesley, MA. I study French and Political Science at St. Olaf College. I love to read, play ultimate frisbee, and swim!</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
St. Olaf College
Wellesley, MA
French Language
Political Science
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