I am feeling really torn right now. Like many of us, I have never experienced a pandemic before. This year has turned many of our lives upside down, and with no vaccine readily available I am unsure of what we should expect over the next several months (or even longer).
I am sure if you have read my blogs you will understand how much I love to travel and explore different places. I’m also Australian born, but living in the UK, so getting back to my ‘home’ turf is incredibly important to me. I generally plan a trip at least once a year. Last year (2019) was the exception, being the first year I didn’t travel home for various reasons. I was really excited for my plans to get back to Brisbane in April this year, and bitterly disappointed when those travel plans were cancelled due to the spread of Covid-19.
Whilst I love my life in the UK, I need to feel close to my family and friends back home in Australia. When I’m there I’m back to my roots, and I feel like a part of me recharges and I can reconnect to my childhood and early adulthood as I spend time with the people I love and care for. I’ve always been able to fly home at short notice if needed, and even though it is an almost 24-hour journey back, Australia has never felt that far away to me. Until now.
Right now, I can’t just board a plane and get home. With restrictions and quarantine rules, even with my Australian passport I cannot go home.
Early this year, and before this crisis hit, we also booked flights to Australia for Christmas this year. Covid-19 was starting to hit headlines around China when we paid for these flights, but we had no idea how big this pandemic would be all across the world. When we booked, all I was thinking was that I haven’t been home for Christmas in almost 10 years. I was purely focused on giving my four-year-old son an Australian Christmas experience with his Nana and his cousins.
With all travel plans and flights being cancelled this year, I kept holding hope that this would be over by Christmas. Perhaps I have been a little naive?
I haven’t hugged my mum for over twelve months now. I need that hug!
As I continue to read the news headlines, I can’t see an immediate out to this pandemic. I am now starting to really doubt that Christmas in Australia in 20202 will be a reality for us. With just over four months before our planned departure, I can’t see a vaccine being readily available, and lockdown restrictions have seen more rising cases and concerns of a second wave. I have to prepare myself for the likelihood of these restrictions ramping up again, and that could mean our trip is cancelled. Again!
The other great concern for me right now, is the flight length. Twenty-four hours on a flight is a long time, and I need to think about more than just me, but also my family. We would need to wear a mask throughout the entire journey. As I think about this, I dread the journey. It’s already uncomfortable sitting on a flight for such an extended period of time, let alone with a face covering where you’re continually breathing in your own hot air. I can barely cope with just running in and out of a shop these days to get the essentials. Twenty-four hours with my mouth and nose covered will be almost unbearable.
So, you can imagine, with just four months before our departure, I’m feeling anxious and uncertain. It feels like a waiting game to see what happens next, how this situation progresses, and whether there is any hope of a vaccine helping us to get back to some kind of normality. In the meantime I continue to monitor the news and updates in both countries, and at the same time I need to consider what would be the sensible approach to our travel plans, for the safety and well-being of me and my family?
I know for sure that had I not already booked the flight; I wouldn’t be heading on a long haul flight right now. For me it’s not only about the destination, it’s about the entire journey to get there. Australia has actually not been hit as hard with Covid-19 compared to many other countries. It is the airport check-in, the stopovers and the fact that you are confined on one small aircraft for around ten hours plus, with many other passengers who may or may not have come into contact with the virus. Despite the precaution’s airlines are taking, I’m not convinced they can truly tell who is carrying Covid-19, and we don’t have enough information yet about how the virus truly spreads to understand what prevents us being exposed.
Whilst I want to support the airline industry, and I know how damaging the pandemic has been to many airlines and tourism specialists, the sensible side of me says this is a personal risk I am taking at this point in time.
Yet my heart strikes a different argument. It really wants that hug right now.