In early August, as I was packing my carry-on for a month-long trip to Europe, I was sure I had everything in order for my first international flight since the start of the pandemic. I’d triple-checked the requirements for entering Portugal, where the emergence of the Delta variant had complicated an already fickle travel landscape. I slipped my CDC-issued vaccination card and the negative results of a rapid antigen test taken within 48 hours of my departure into the sleeve of my passport case, completed the passenger locator form issued by the Portuguese government, and dug up an unopened N95 face mask to wear on the plane.
Confident as I was that I’d met all the travel requirements, the nagging fear that I’d missed a step that would prohibit me from boarding my flight crept into mind as I pulled up to San Francisco International Airport. The one scenario I hadn’t considered was that I might have been overprepared.