For the next several weeks, we are compiling the thoughts and experiences of our staff, writers and readers about the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. As a travel publication, we’ve all been affected during these difficult times, as have many of our clients, friends, partners and more.
Below, hear more from our freelance writers, intrepid travelers who are often all over the world at any given time; our Globility Board, a vetted group of our subscribers also usually around the globe; and from us, the team behind Global Traveler, trazeetravel.com and whereverfamily.com.
How is the current situation affecting you? When do you expect normalcy to return? Will you travel right away? Do you have upcoming trips planned? Tell us. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.
From our team:
My daughter plays softball for a travel team, and this requires many weekend hotel stays over the summer. But, as of now, we haven’t booked any hotels due to the uncertainty of the softball season. I am sad for the players who work hard all year, and have had their high school seasons put on hold, with the possibility of being canceled for the year. And I’m worried for the hotels who will lose business from the travel softball teams they rely on to fill the rooms every weekend all summer long.
But I’m hopeful this will pass, and everyone cooped up in their homes will look to get away and enjoy some summertime travel, with a renewed appreciation for these escapes.
Tracey Cullen, art director
The last public event I attended was the Big East Women’s Basketball tournament, won by the DePaul Blue Demons. I planned on attending their games in the NCAA tournament.
Women’s sports were going to consume a lot of my spring and summer calendar. Collegiate softball started and home games for DePaul and Northwestern were scheduled to start a couple of weeks ago. I am disappointed I will not be watching softball, but I am sadder for the young ladies, some of whom may have played their last collegiate game.
I planned a May trip to St. Louis to watch Team USA softball play an exhibition series in preparation for the 2020 Olympics. The Team USA tour has been put on hold, as have the Olympics scheduled for this summer in Tokyo.
My friends and I were going to Atlanta at the end of May for our 20th annual baseball trip. By the time baseball resumes, our schedules will be too full in the summer, but we are looking at a fall football trip.
The loss of most of my leisure time outings and a few trips is small in the overall picture. I should be able to get my softball fix from the Chicago Bandits later this summer. My canceled trips will be replaced by future trips, although with different destinations.
In the meantime, I will keep busy reading, working out at home and thinking of future trips. Normal life will resume and I will be ready.
John Wroblewski, distribution specialist
From our writers:
My husband and I typically travel several times a month from our home in Atlanta, our half-packed suitcases a permanent fixture in our bedroom. We’ve canceled trips to Texas, Virginia, New York, Mississippi and Mexico so far, which included a fraternity reunion and a conference.
We only venture out of the house to take long walks around our neighborhood in the afternoon. Our suitcases moved to the attic where they will stay for the foreseeable future, and we are getting reacquainted with our kitchen.
Jan Schroder, The Travel 100
I am currently in England. They announced schools are closed for an indefinite period of time. A concert I was to attend in Manchester at the end of March canceled, as well as most large public events.
With the exception of the Business Travel Show and an event in early March in London, I have stayed at my friend’s home for the past month. In February, I was in Naples, Florence and Bologna, Italy. It was business as usual there at that time. Now it is heartbreaking to see empty streets on the news.
My original plan was to stay in England through the summer and explore Europe periodically. Due to the circumstances, those plans are now on hold. I will stay here as planned and wait until travel to continental Europe resumes.
Even though I do not have symptoms, I am now on a self-imposed isolation due to the fact I have been to some of the most infected areas since this virus surfaced. I have been to Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Italy in the last few months.
I hope this crisis will end sooner than later so we can all go back to exploring our planet.
Nicole Bergstrom, nicolethetravelscribe.com
We are sheltering in place in coastal Maine. Before confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our small town, all schools, businesses and restaurants closed, and all public events canceled in the hope of preventing further spread. Our one grocery store is hugely depleted of supplies, with expectations the supply chain will be disrupted any day with regard to restocking. However, we are fortunate to be a coastal community with lots of fisherman, and a large adjacent farming region that’s coming into the growing season.
While social distancing, lack of travel, loss of income and a general air of fear are all hard — physically and psychologically — to deal with, there are positive aspects as well. Since we aren’t traveling and neither my husband nor I have to go anywhere, we are spending more thoughtful and meaningful time in one another’s company, and finding creative ways to fill the days. I’m a book author and my husband’s favorite hobby is making furniture. So after we’ve devoted part of the day to those pursuits, we make house repairs, prepare meals together, share books and look through our old guidebooks while talking about the wonderful places we’ve been, and planning the next adventure once the world returns to a new normal. It’s important to keep in mind the very situation we are all navigating right now is likely one we will be faced with at another point in our lives, and we can learn from this experience how to better prepare for and weather the next storm, both as individuals and as a global community.
Personally, the effects of the pandemic hit my family hard. In addition to my income being interrupted and my husband being furloughed, our adult son has seen his hospitality career tumble down around him in Manhattan, where he is on the management team of a luxury brand hotel. On a deeply personal level, my in-laws, who are not well, plus my 82-year-old mother, are all in Florida, along with my brother who has been hospitalized for the past three months and was in a coma until a few weeks ago. He is still on life support, and our own financial constraints make it impossible at this time to travel back and forth as regularly as we would like to. We also fear inadvertently introducing illness into the households of our parents, or risking the life of my brother, and have made the very difficult decision to not take that risk.
Instead, we are relying on nearby caregivers and closer family members to keep an eye out for our aging parents. My mother is the least concerned of all of us: She has a pacemaker, is missing her gallbladder, lived through WWII and its economic fallout, and spent most of her childhood in a wheelchair due to spinal meningitis. She reminds us kindness to others and a positive attitude is what will make the difference in any catastrophe, and she’s been right about most things in the past.
Debra Bokur, debrabokur.com
From a travel advisor standpoint, this has been an incredibly stressful month getting clients home from around the world.
As a travel writer, I’m taking a hiatus from my travel blog to focus on a new book on New England, a compilation of my favorite stories I’ve written on the region over the past 25 years. I discussed it on my blog, when I also plugged my latest story for Global Traveler on hot air ballooning over Cappadocia.
At times like this, it’s hard not to be grateful for the little things in life. Global Traveler’s support over the years is one of the things I’m truly grateful for.
Stay safe and stay strong!
Steve Jermanok, ActiveTravels.com
As the mother of a 6-month-old, my day to day doesn’t really look too different than it did pre-COVID-19 (e.g., writing furiously during nap times, doing online workout classes before the sun comes up, etc.) … aside from the fact my husband and I have been locked in our home together for a couple of weeks. It’s a strange time to be a military spouse, as, for the first time in a decade, my husband’s federally-mandated travel restrictions actually apply to me as well. We’ve both had to cancel trips (Hawai’i, South Korea, Germany, Arkansas, Missouri and Bermuda), and are in the process of negotiating an Airbnb cancellation for Washington, D.C. Despite the frustrations of canceling travel, it’s been a massive bonus to have my husband home this month since he was supposed to be gone for nearly two months straight. We’ve been helping our son learn to crawl and having nightly jam sessions with his percussion toys (those annoying rattles actually make great maracas). I’ve been coping with my trip cancellations by taking advantage of the cheap airline tickets with little-to-no change fees, and have already booked trips for later in the year with the understanding the tickets may very well have to turn into an airline credit if things don’t clear up quickly. Haven’t gone crazy … yet!
I am currently limiting all trips out of the house to the bare necessities (grocery shopping, medical appointments, etc.). My husband was asked to work from home due to our recent travel to Mexico City. I canceled two trips in April, one to Texas and one to Hawai’i. I have two additional domestic trips planned for May, but am waiting to see how things progress before making any decisions. I find the greatest impact COVID-19 has had on my life so far has been economic, as most clients and publications I work with are canceling coverage of travel, events and related topics.
We are staying home, have canceled all trips and are limiting errands to as few as possible. We are still writing articles, but about the destinations’ cultures, foods, etc., that are evergreen topics. Nothing with specific restaurants or other things likely to change; Italy is one of our main specialty areas, so we’re especially conscious of changes that will happen there.
We are tentatively planning to return to France and perhaps Portugal in the fall, but are making no firm plans until we see how all this plays out.
As always, we continue to read about travel and destinations, and are especially conscious of following travel blogs and websites, knowing the survival of these depend on continued reader numbers — and also because we always enjoy reading about travel experiences.
People will travel again when this is over. The urge to see the world is born of our natural curiosity, and being denied the ability to travel for a while will only make us more anxious to take off again when we can.
From our Globility Board:
We just returned from a month in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Somaliland, a rigorous, 30-day trip with two sets of experienced travelers. Ethiopia was with a group of 10 for two weeks during Timkat, and the later two weeks with a group of 14. Spiekerman was the outfitter and I recommend them.
This trip was challenging for a number of things, visas being one. Border crossings are somewhat contentious between Eritrea and Ethiopia. We had to re-route the second two weeks because of protests in Harar, a holy Muslim city in Orthodox Ethiopia. The trip was Jan. 11–Feb. 12. Our fellow travelers were all American, except one Canadian. Most were extending trips onward to Sudan.
I asked a lot about medical care and medical services for these countries as a personal interest. I currently extend my work in the dental industry by volunteering on non-profit foundation boards trying to fund oral medical caregiver scholarships and activities. I visit dental offices when I travel.
These African countries have limited health care access as you would expect. Larger cities have some government hospitals and universities. Addis Ababa is quite active and international as the African hub. Rural areas — most of the countries are rural — rely on local medicine, faith healing and sporadic non-profit foreign help.
Coronavirus was in the news our entire trip. At many border crossings, we had our temperatures taken, but not when we returned through San Francisco.
We have air travel purchased for three domestic trips starting the end of April through August. The first would be to Oregon to visit grandchildren. We will decide as we get closer to the April 28 date, and the same with later travel.
We have put a down payment on a tour through the Balkans for September. Again, we will wait and see. We have a January 2021 cruise booked. Who knows?
Celeste and I are staying home for the most part, only venturing out if we need something from the store. I’ll go to my office every other day or so just to get the mail. Same with our staff … we are working from home for the most part.
We had to cancel our trip to Europe. We would have been in Nice, France, then off to Barcelona for a few days before going on a tour of Lisbon and Porto, Portugal.
We are in limbo on if and when our Porto tour will be rescheduled and we’re looking at a European cruise that embarks at the end of August. It’s too uncertain to plan anything sooner than that.
Tom & Celeste Linhard
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oneworld is an alliance of 13 world-leading airlines committed to providing the highest level of service and connecting you to more than 1,100 destinations around the world.
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Karisma Hotels & Resorts, with luxury hotels in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe, announced its Holidays for Your Heroes initiative. The program will donate 150 luxury, all-inclusive resort stays to essential workers and their families with its Karisma Foundation and partners.