Like almost everyone else, I entered 2020 bright-eyed and hopeful for the start of a new decade. While I had many wonderful memories of the 2010s, a lot of moments were pretty much a shitstorm for me. I was (and still am) hopeful for new milestones in the upcoming decade: getting healthier, more travels, growing in my career, and starting a family.
Then COVID-19 spread all over the world.
When I first heard about the coronavirus cases in China, I thought it would it would contain itself and resolve quickly. I thought it would be like SARS in 2003. What I and everyone else didn’t expect was a worldwide pandemic where everything shut down, wearing masks, staying six feet apart, and remote work, and classes were the new normal.
This new pandemic canceled weddings, graduations, baby showers, large funerals, gatherings, and vacations. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a plane in the sky.
If you planned a trip this year, bought your tickets and accommodations, and had to cancel everything, you may feel guilty for being disappointed and upset. After all, it’s a first-world problem compared to millions of people around the world losing their jobs, scrambling to put food on the table, or worse: catching the virus, getting hospitalized, possibly being put on a ventilator. And for that, I am thankful that I or anyone else I know hasn’t experienced any of those things.
But that doesn’t mean your feelings and disappointments are any less valid. You were probably looking forward to the next family reunion because goodness knows when the next time you’ll see your grandparents (and you do not want to possibly infect them, considering they are at higher risk). You labored over planning your wedding for months, excited for your loved ones to witness the love and vows between you and your beloved. Your relative died and you can’t even go to their funeral since 10 people are the capacity. Or maybe you planned and booked a trip to a place you always wanted to visit, only to find yourself scrambling to get a refund from the airlines.
When Cecilio and I got back from our Europe trip in October (click to read about our travels in London, Stonehenge/Bath, and Paris), we could not stop raving and reminiscing together, even though we ended up super sick during the majority of our trip (could we have had COVID-19? That’s something we keep wondering now).
We were already talking about planning to go to Tokyo this year. I was thinking of going back to Europe until he texted me at work, saying, “oh love, I’m already thinking of Tokyo”. That got me really excited and researching where to stay, what to do, taking the train to go to Kyoto and Osaka. Hell, I was even researching going to Seoul from Japan and what to do during a long layover in China or the Philippines (because most flights coming from San Francisco to Tokyo had layovers in Manila, Beijing, or Seoul). Sidenote: even though the coronavirus originated in China, I still want to go to China in my lifetime.
Then as January and February rolled around, I was asking Cecilio to help me plan. He got more wishy-washy and kept putting it off. I know money is tight and that was one of the reasons, but he also had a bad feeling in his gut about what was to come in 2020. He works at a news station as an online producer, so he gets the scoop on the latest news before everyone else does. Little did he know that that gut feeling was correct. And it makes me thankful that we DIDN’T buy airplane tickets. I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to fight for a refund.
Travel is the industry that got hit hard the most by this pandemic. Countries are slowly opening up for tourism, but with limitations. Wearing masks are required throughout the whole flight. The European Union is now opening its borders for citizens from certain countries, and the United States not being one of them due to our largest case in the world. That honestly makes me worried. Does that mean we will never be able to travel to Europe again or just this year? There are cities there I still haven’t visited!
I have anxiety so I think of the worst-case scenario. I feel like oh my gosh, if I don’t have something planned set in stone, I’m never going to be able to go there! or We’re not getting younger, Cecilio and I need to start planning to have children eventually so we NEED to travel ASAP! or with my autoimmune disease, what if I die earlier not being able to fulfill my bucket list? or what if by the time I visit all of the places, blogging is dead and my content is irrelevant?
I keep telling Cecilio, “oh love, I really really hope we can go somewhere in 2021 and 2022.” and he promises me we will. But he also makes it known that he is not thinking about travel right now because of this pandemic. He tells me, “The world needs to heal first. Just like how it took you a while to heal from your flare”.
Everyone is adjusting to a new normal, and it takes a while to adapt. Especially because this is something none of us in our lifetimes have ever experienced before. And everyone handles it differently. So it’s okay to feel antsy about the future.
But as a Christian, I need to let my fears go, give it to God, trust Him with my life and the Earth He created.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?Matthew 6:25-27
And more importantly, as a Christian, it is my duty to do my part by loving my neighbor. Which means wearing a mask (even though I don’t like it at all) to protect them from catching the virus, staying six feet away from them, and minimizing going anywhere as much as possible (I only go to work, the grocery store, and Pure Barre now that it reopened with very strict guidelines).
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”Mark 12:30-31
It helps to practice gratitude daily. I know it’s not easy for me, especially having travel envy and feeling inadequate that I have only been to 9 countries and 9 US states compared to the 20–70+ countries most travel bloggers have visited (or even envy over my mom who has visited 15 countries, but that was because she was a flight attendant). But practicing gratitude helps keep things in perspective: I have a secure, full-time job and so does Cecilio. So we don’t worry about when our next meal will be. Cecilio and I are in love and we have a great relationship and marriage, and I feel at peace with him. We have fur children who give us the ultimate joy, and family who love us. And wonderful memories from the few places we HAVE visited.
Besides, we are planning for all-day trips locally in Tahoe and Carmel. Cecilio’s not comfortable staying overnight in a hotel, but it’s a chance for us to get away and recuperate from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the midst of a pandemic.
Has COVID-19 forced you to cancel travel plans in 2020? How are you coping with it and how are you feeling about everything right now? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to talk you guys more 🙂 talk therapy is the best!
Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.