I'm writing this from the balcony of my hostel overlooking over the city with a view of Castelo de Sao Jorge, sipping on delicious local red wine, thinking..."Could life be any better?"
This is how I would have started this blog, but unfortunately, the world is on hold at the moment with the pandemic of Covid-19, a virus that's been spreading rapidly throughout the world hitting every major city and rural town, no community is immune from this virus.
Frank and I just spent an entire month of February in South America, enjoying the beautiful weather and discovering local breweries in Quito, Ecuador, and immersing in the local culture and meeting new friends in Medellin, Colombia. We had months worth of travels and events planned for when we come back to the States, music festivals, snowboarding trips, a couple of trips to Europe. 2020 was going to be a year full of travels and adventures.
Sinners Micro Cerveceria, Quito Ecuador
We came back to California in March and everything just started falling apart. European countries started locking down and closing borders due to the rapid increase in infected patients, the death rate steadily climbing, and everyone is in a panic and decided to start hoarding toilet paper. Everything all happened in just a couple of weeks. Finally, the US President decided to declare a national emergency to combat the virus and the WHO (World Health Organization) declared the outbreak a pandemic. One by one, city by city, state by state and country by country, emergency mandates were put into place to slow the spread of the virus.
I was supposed to fly out to Madrid and then to Lisbon in late March but the dangers of travel and being in contact with the outside was too risky. Luckily for me, I was able to postpone my flight to February of 2021 (yes, a whole year)! During the week that California started locking down, closing schools, non-essential businesses and travels all came to a halt. We were fortunate that the week California announced the Safer At Home mandate, we were already back in California spending time with our good friends in Lake Tahoe, the panic hadn't set in yet as everything was business as usual while we were up there. Once we flew back to Southern California, that's when I begin to realize, this is it, our lives will never be the same again.
For the past three months, we've stayed in the same city, same state, same house the longest we've ever stayed in one place in the past few years. Not being able to travel and locked down without any physical social interaction other than with those in our household and those we see at the grocery stores, it has been tough mentally.
Conferences, concerts, and festivals, one by one, any type of normalcy were slowly being canceled. Schools and businesses were closing and people's lives were changing. It's absolutely a surreal thing you only imagine in the movies. People lost jobs, some lost friends and family caused by COVID-19, this is a pandemic that will forever be in the history books, a virus that shut down the entire world during modern times.
DEALING WITH IT
In a week's span, I canceled or postponed 5 different flights between March and May, and currently still waiting for any updates for clearance for summer travel. I have been fortunate not to have lost any monetary value on these flights and I am very optimistic that I will be able to take these same trips again in my lifetime, just not now.
While this lockdown has taken a toll on us mentally, we've also found ways to combat it from every angle we could. We've started hosting and attending more online video parties via Zoom with friends, we even started a weekly game night every Thursday with a couple of good friends of ours where we play Nintendo Switch games online. This was something we looked forward to each week.
Quarantine Zoom Parties Cheers To Travels
Frank's daily routine hasn't changed much as he's worked remotely prior to the pandemic and business has remained relatively the same. The only difference for him is the location of where he would be checking in from.
Before leaving Colombia, I started taking Spanish classes, something I had been wanting to do for many years but kept putting off. With our 4 month trip through South America planned for the end of this year, I wanted to make certain we would be able to get around conversationally so I signed up for a paid Spanish course and have been spending at least an hour or 2 or more every day studying and meeting with my tutors online. This has by far been the best decision I made going down this path towards learning a new language. I will share my experience with this Spanish program in another update.
We're also using this time to catch up on our blogs and videos as well as new projects that will support Cheers To Travels and our future travel plans. We definitely have no shortage of work to keep ourselves busy but it can still take a mental hit not knowing what the future of traveling may be. With that said, Frank also started learning code, which is something he wanted to get into since working at his current company. Having a new hobby or passion is important to us in order for us to not only to get out of a monotonous routine but gives us something to look forward to that is new and challenging.
Zoom Parties, Work at Home Station, Cheers To Travels
OUR THOUGHTS ON FUTURE TRAVEL
We've been keeping up with rumors, professional opinions and current travel trends and while we cannot predict the future, what we can provide is our opinion on the future of travel.
Avid travelers will continue to travel without much fear. We will continue to book flights and plan trips as much as the countries' governance will allow us. We will travel with caution and practice safety protocols as mandated by airlines and the travel industry because we don't want this virus to continue its wrath. We want to try and maintain it and prevent it as much as possible.
Airfare will not be as affordable as it had been in previous years. I believe it will be less affordable to fly to Europe for less than $300 roundtrip in economy class because airlines are being affected financially and it will take some time for them to make up for the loss.
I believe business trips will become more and more unnecessary due to the fact that we've seen the high percentage of quality work that can be done remotely during this time of lockdown.
While we continue to wait through this pandemic, we will be looking at travel in a different way and create a better travel culture that we can all embrace and appreciate for the long run.
How have you dealt with the pandemic? Did this experience change how you will be traveling in the future? Share your stories with us in the comments below.
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