20 Everyday Things We Can’t Wait to Have Back After the Pandemic

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Women hugging
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The world has been caught in a holding pattern for nearly a year now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. But there’s hope on the horizon. With COVID-19 vaccines now being distributed, 2021 is looking like a happy new year indeed.

While there’s still a long road ahead before the world settles into its new normal, it’s heartening to look ahead to so many activities that have been put on hold for the duration. Here’s a look at just some of the everyday actions we’ll never take for granted again.


Young woman in plane
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Every traveler can list out their pre-pandemic gripes about air travel — the plane’s packed, the security lines are eternal, the seats are cramped. But it’s worth it in the end to land at that family wedding, tropical beach or bucket-list international destination. Keep those passports current, because one day soon the world will reopen.

If you can’t wait to start packing for your next flight, check out “How Can You Go to Europe for 10 Days With Just a Carry-On?

No lines outside Trader Joe’s

Shoppers wait in line outside a Trader Joe's store during the coronavirus pandemic
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If you’re not a Trader Joe’s fan, fill in the name of your favorite space-limited store here, from Costco to your neighborhood bakery. Some coronavirus artifacts will always be with us, but being able to duck into a popular store for “just one thing” without a 6-foot-spaced outdoor wait will feel better than a clearance sale.

Road trips

Family on a road trip
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Compared with flying, road trips seemed somewhat safer during the pandemic, but they, too, are fraught with issues we never thought about before. Is it safe to stop to eat, or to use a restroom? How clean is that roadside motel, anyway? We’re counting down until we can once again get our kicks on Route 66.

Meanwhile, prepare for your next long haul by checking out “13 Essential Things to Pack for a Better Road Trip” and “The Best Roadside Attraction to Check Out in Every State (and D.C.).”

Leaving the house without a mask

Happy shopper with a cart in a store
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Protective face masks now live in our cars and purses, and on the tables right next to the front door. But still sometimes we forget and have to dash back in the house for one — and no mask has ever quite solved that fogged-up-eyeglasses issue. As cute as some masks are, it’ll be so nice to once again see the bottom half of everyone’s face.


Motivation, two men working out
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Maybe you never thought you’d miss the sweat and struggle of an hour on the elliptical, or a tough session with the weights. But now that we can’t feel the burn while surrounded by a group of sweaty strangers, we’re eager to push for just one more rep.


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Humans are huggers — it’s just who we are. From gently enfolding Grandma to scooping up and squishing the newest chubby baby in the family, we’ve missed nothing more than the personal touch.


Family Together Christmas Celebration diverse multi ethnic family
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From coloring Easter eggs with a giant crowd of dye-speckled kids, to serving up Thanksgiving turkey to a multi-generational group, big holiday happenings were put on hold in 2020. But someday soon, we’ll be inviting everyone over for everything. Even you, Cousin Dave.

Dawdling in coffeehouses

A group of friends drinking coffee and taking a selfie
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Coffeehouse culture was booming when the pandemic rudely put it on the back burner. Whether it means catching up with a friend over a cappuccino, or simply slogging solo through spreadsheets with a latte, we’re craving a return to the java jive.


Woman blowing out candles on a birthday cake
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So many occasions went barely acknowledged in 2020. Birthday drive-by parades and graduation yard signs were fun, but can only go so far. Start stocking up on gift wrap and funny hats, because in the iconic words of the late, lamented Prince, we’re going to party like it’s 1999.


Friends at a tailgating party
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Let’s root, root, root for the home team. Once sporting events pack stadiums again, dig out the portable grills and the garish team-logo lawn chairs, because fans of all stripes can’t wait to set up shop in stadium parking lots. Pass the mustard?

School events

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Who’d have thought we’d miss the cacophony of a middle-school band concert, or the barely controlled chaos of a science fair? With many schools shifting to virtual or hybrid learning models, those evenings in musty gymnasiums have never seemed more precious.

Singing in public

Friends singing karaoke
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The silence has been deafening. From church choirs to caroling to karaoke to concerts of all genres, we’ve missed the joyful noise of live music in all its noteworthy forms.

Spa services

Woman painting her fingernails
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Yes, it’s possible to do one’s nails at home, or dye your own hair, or pluck your own brows. But the trained pros out there do it so much better, and the pampering alone is worth the price. And when they’re back, tip like an eccentric billionaire, because they need and deserve it.

Dive bars

Friends watching a game at a sports bar
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Ah, to be able to belly up to the bar once again, to scan the tap beer choices and maybe catch a bit of the big game on a gigantic TV screen. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, or at least your drink order.

Fancy restaurant dinners

Restaurant diners
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Takeout can only go so far. When it’s a milestone birthday or anniversary, nothing can compete with the elegant setting, trained service and gourmet meals served up by the four-star eateries out there. Soon, we’ll toast their skills again.

Co-worker gab sessions

Happy employee
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Did you hear why Linda quit? Can you believe the boss said that? What’s the deal with the weird new client? Working from home has its pluses, but Slack and Zoom just don’t offer up the spontaneous and dishy watercooler conversations that pop up in your average office.

Movies and plays

Women Watching Movie
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The play’s the thing — and the film, too. Sure, streaming services deliver plenty of watch-at-home options, but there’s something special about watching a blockbuster in a sticky-floored cinema or sitting rapt at a live play. Bravo to all the actors who can’t wait to take the stage once again.


Baby boomer friends in a kitchen
Dmytro Zinkevych / Shutterstock.com

In the Before Times, people thought nothing of inviting a friend over last-minute to watch the game, or barbecue a steak, or play a hand of cards. Spur-of-the-moment weekend trips, instant dinner invitations, dashes to the farmer’s market — now all of those choices have to be run through a mental checklist of what’s safe and what’s not. We look forward to being impulsive again.

Fairs and festivals

Festival in Denver, Colorado
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It’s not the corn dogs and cheese curds we miss as much as the comforting camaraderie and craziness of a big public event. Someday soon, we’ll mingle again on the state fair midway, or in the halls and booths of a comic-book convention, and this time, we’ll savor the sweaty crowds like never before.

Blowing out birthday candles

retirement party
Ulf Wittrock / Shutterstock.com

It probably wasn’t ever too hygienic to blow a germy breath across a cake that everyone’s about to eat, but guess what? Once we can safely do it again, we’re gonna.

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