What happens when a part of your identity falls into traveling and then suddenly- traveling stops? I know that we all felt the pain of travel plans being cancelled and put on hold. I have three travel journeys that I would like to share with you in this post of my journeys of traveling the world during this crazy time.
First, let me start with saying my first trip of traveling during COVID-19 was very stressful leading up to it and slightly during it. My husband, dog, and I needed to get back to the United States from Australia in August of 2020. In my opinion, Australia did a lot of things right in the beginning. They only allowed Australian citizens back into the country and they had to quarantine in hotels for 2 weeks to confirm that they indeed did not carry the virus. Also, traveling within the country was stopped. You could only travel within the state that you lived in. We lived on the west coast of Australia and when I was living there, the virus was only found on cruise ships that were docked in the harbor.
Side note, as of July 29, 2021, Australia has had a total of 33,732 cases of COVID-19 and 922 deaths. In Western Australia (where we lived), they have had a total of 1,051 cases of COVID-19 and 9 deaths. As of July 29, 2021, USA has had a total of 34.8 million cases of COVID-19 and 612,000 deaths. These numbers are calculated from the beginning of COVID-19 back in early 2020.
To get back to the US with a dog, there was only ONE airline that was available for us to take which was Qatar Airways. Thank God for them! In August of 2020, we flew from Perth to Doha with a very limited amount of people. We had to wear a face mask and a shield the entire route except when we were eating. It was the first time that my husband and I had worn a face mask so wearing a face mask with a shield for over 24 hours for our entire trip was quite a shock.
Once we got to Doha, our only option to get into the US was to fly into Dallas or Chicago even though our final destination was Richmond, Virginia. We flew over our final destination to have to get back to but I digress. Also, our flight was much fuller than the previous flight with passports being shown from all over the world. I was actually surprised to see that this flight being fuller because I thought that the US was limiting who was coming in but I didn’t see that on my flight at all.
I must state though the airports were not crowded as we are accustomed to and there were many stores/restaurants that were not open. Customs through Dallas was fast to get through but they were surprised that we were coming back to the US and why had we not stayed in Australia where COVID-19 is super low? Hence me telling you of the COVID-19 numbers above.
To sum up flying internationally during the middle of COVID-19, it was not fun. The mask combined with the face shield made it difficult to breathe normally and sleep for that amount of hours. The airports felt lifeless with the lack of people and shops/restaurants being opened. The whole experience was none like any other…
The second experience was driving across country during the month of October and November of 2020. We drove from Richmond, Virginia to Los Angeles, California. What a drive! If you have never traveled across the country via car in the United States, you are missing out. We drove first through the middle of the United States stopping through Nashville, Tennessee, then through Kansas City, Missouri, Denver, Colorado, and Phoenix, Arizona and then onto Los Angeles, California. Please note we did make little stops along the way for food and gas along in some states not mentioned.
Each city had different rules when it came to mask wearing, how many people were allowed into a store/restaurant, if places were even opened or closed, and etc. There were a few times that we would enter a smaller town looking for food and restaurants would be closed or their hours were limited due to shortage of staff. We made sure that we always had a mask on us and to have enough snacks in the car just in case there was nowhere to stop to get a proper meal.
Once we got to Los Angeles, it was the strictest out of all the cities that we had passed through. After arriving, we then went through the second shut down of the city. We missed the first shut down that happened nationwide so I guess that we were bound to go through at least one shut down.
Third journey taken was recently to Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Florida in July of 2021. The airlines had us wear masks (no face shield) and some indoor places in Florida required masks. However, we spent most of our time outdoors so mask wearing was not necessary.
I have to say wherever you go during this time, spend as much time outdoors. You can be one with nature which could consist of being near water and state parks. Fort Lauderdale, which is known as being the Venice of America (which has 300 miles of inland waterways), we spent our time mainly on the beach, the intracoastal waterway, and state parks. Also, there were plenty of outdoor shopping and outdoor seating for many restaurants.
I only hope that those that are reading this that you can find some where to travel to, even if it is a short drive. If you have a state park, a lake, beach, river or mountains, go visit! Get some fresh air and enjoy the nature that surrounds you. For the state parks, you can look them up online to check for hours, and if there is a fee to get in. If there is a fee, it is typically very minimal such as no more than $20. Here is a link to get you started on your nature adventure. https://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm
For me, I find that being in nature gets me to think more and I typically have the best conversation with whoever I am with. Also, being surrounded by nature helps remind me of how important our Earth is and that we should enjoy it but also protect it at the same time. COVID-19 has stunted our international travel but nature around you is calling. Go explore and who knows, you might even love spending a little time with nature as well.