Where do I even begin?
In January of 2019 I started to plan out what would be an incredible year of travel for both my wife and I. 2020 was going to be the targeted “year of adventure” where we would celebrate by nabbing a few bucket list places and experiences after a long travel drought, as 2019 marked a big move from Oregon to Minnesota.
One by one, we planned out our 2020 calendar. In June, I’d visit Russia, Azerbaijan and Hungary (with day-long layovers in Germany and Turkey) along with two friends as we planned to take in the Euro 2020 festivities. The next trip planned was for March, a jourey to the South Pacific where my wife and I would explore Samoa and American Samoa. Lastly, I planned a road trip for September along with airline tickets to Iqaluit, Nunavut – one of the last two territories of Canada we’ve yet to visit. 2020 was set to be an epic year!
Well, it has certainly been different beyond my wildest dreams – but not exactly what we wished for.
We are still out the money on our tickets to Samoa (unfortunately book through Orbitz, which saved us $500 at the time of booking, but has been more than a headache to deal with in the aftermath of this). Samoa was one of the first countries to place restrictions on travel, and while we may have had a slim chance of making it there with medical clearance, there would have been a logistical hurdles at every turn (not to mention the basic impossibility of transiting on to American Samoa with the guidelines at the time).
Soon all travel around the world began to collapse, and it was quickly apparent that my Euro 2020 plans would soon fade. I currently have quite a bit of money and miles tied up in June flight itineraries, just shy of a lot of May 31st cut-offs for flexibility. Holding out on those now to see if airlines loosen restrictions on June travel.
Lastly, I’m holding out hope that our road trip to Ottawa can happen in September, in which we not only need to cross the Canadian border (which is closed at this point), but travel to a place that currently has no COVID-19 cases. I’m not optimistic that my little dream jaunt to Nunavut will hold up either, despite it being months away…
I realize my frustrations and disappointment are common to many of us who enjoy travel. There are many more people facing fare more dire circumstances and we all just need to be grateful for the simple things we can enjoy in these unpredictable and, frankly, scary times. Take advantage of the extra free time you may have and work on a project at home, or catch up on some books, movies or games you’ve sat on for awhile. Play with your kids, spend some extra time with your spouse, cook a new meal or just catch up on sleep. Some of you may be working the front lines of this, and, for that, I applaud your heroics. People like you are the reason we can hope for life to be normal again soon.
I do worry about the shape of the travel and hospitality industries after this all settles. For people who live to travel, getting out of this will probably take a little longer than simply coming out of our shelters and going back to work again. Some airlines may go out of business, some routes will likely disappear, who knows how much tickets will cost and if airlines can (or will) fully fill their seats. I never anticipated such a scenario attacking this passion at every angle, but the reality is, we just do not know what life will be like for travellers after this clears up.
I do know that someday I’ll be stepping on a plane again. Someday I’ll be stepping foot on a new place ready to embark on a new adventure. Maybe not today, not tomorrow, but some day. Have hope.