Traveling during the pandemic has been a huge debate in the travel community since the beginning of the worldwide lockdown. Some people had postponed their trips until next year while some others canceled their pending trips indefinitely.
While it doesn’t hurt to wishfully think that this crisis will end sometime soon, I guess it’s now time to be realistic about the situation. The world is filled with optimistic people but unfortunately, being consistently positive about things can hinder us from seeing the actual truth. And, the hard truth is, traveling will never be the same anymore. Heck, the world is not gonna be the same anymore.
This, I knew since the beginning of the pandemic. Well actually, even before that. It pays to keep an eye on the alternative media where the news is closer to reality rather than the brainwashing information fed by the mainstream media.
We were in the India when the virus story took a huge spotlight in China. At this time, the world cared so little. But, we knew it is gonna go global in the next couple of weeks. So after India, we went ahead with the original plan to go to Borneo but scrapped our trip to Papua New Guinea. We just knew that the virus will spread all over the world around the time when we will in PNG and the health facilities and repatriation process is just going to be complicated. We decided to go to New Zealand instead. In hindsight, that was the best decision we’ve ever made, relative to traveling during the pandemic.
As New Zealand is literally far from everything, the pandemic did not hit country at a significant level until after one month of traveling there. This time, we were in the far south of New Zealand surrounded by fjords, lakes and snow-capped mountains. If we were to choose where to get locked down, that sleepy town near the Milford Sound was the perfect choice. Luckily, NZ implemented a lockdown different from the rest of the world. They called it a ‘community lockdown’ where we can move around like normal within the town and be outdoors to enjoy enjoy fresh air and destress. We did not have to wear masks but we maintained a social distance. Honestly, compared to the lockdown rules in France, it was almost nothing. It was the ideal place to be. My husband could go fishing, we can do hikes, bike around the lake, mesmerize on the ever changing scenery of the NZ’s stunning nature.
Fast forward to April 2020, the French government called for the last repatriation flight to bring back French citizens and residents to France. We had to make a tough decision. With a heavy heart, we decided to come back to France. Although we were in a great place, it was not the place where all our provisions were. Also, the news of lifting the lockdown in France within 2 weeks gave us a motivation to return. It was the last flight to ever leave NZ going to Europe so if we’ve stayed, we would be forced to start a new life in New Zealand. Sounds like a dream for a lot of people. Don’t get us wrong, we would love to stay longer but our situation was a little more complicated.
So, back in France, we were in locked down for about 2 weeks but things started to look better. Then, they lifted the lockdown not just in France butthe entire Europe as well as some countries all over the world. Everyone started to go out again, wearing masks, of course. It looked promising for everyone who felt stuck for months, they could travel again.
As for me, I traveled around Europe for the second time, visiting places that I missed during my first Interrail trip. It was a complicated situation as there is always this moral obligation to put others before yourself. So, I took some time contemplating whether to put my own ‘needs’ and risk spreading/contracting the virus.
If you know me very well, you would have guessed that I went and traveled anyway. I would understand everyone trying to tell me it is dangerous out there and I may be selfish and insensitive for continuing to travel despite the pandemic.
But hear me out though… When I was traveling last summer, I saw the secondary effects of the virus. I’ve spoken to people who lost their jobs, businesses and houses. Then, there are families broken, divorces, suicides, not to mention the long term mental health issues. The worse is, nobody talks about this. People are focus on the rising number of cases, controversial vaccines and medical passports. Nobody talks about the other side of the spectrum which are probably far worse than the increasing number of deaths – crashing world economy.
As for me, I prefer to help out struggling businesses which is why I continue to travel whenever I can as long as I don’t break any rules. Every time I am off to a different country, I always check IATA Travel Center to make sure I am within my rights. I respect the sanitary rules and provide the necessary requirements upon entering the new country such as PCR tests, travel insurance, etc
To be honest, I am not scared at all. In fact, I am planning out my summer 2021 trip in between writing this article. Traveling is my way of helping out the tourism industry. It’s my small contribution to the people that makes it possible for me to stay in dorms, take public transport, eat local food and experience the local culture. Like I said, as long as I am within my rights, I will continue to travel. Some people may call it selfish, but I call it solidarity. And, that’ where I stand.
What about you, what do you think about traveling during the pandemic? Would you do it? I’d love to hear about your opinion.