The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News, 18 March

In this episode, some of the recent COVID-19 travel headlines including a positive result to the virus for a popular blogger and what this tour operator is doing while self-isolating?


Woman in a mask in Tokyo Photo © Australian Erin Ramsay forced home early from her trip to Japan

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The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel Updates

As Governments around the globe impose lockdowns and people self-isolate, COVID-19 has hit the travel industry hard. The World Nomads Travel podcast is suspending its regular destination episodes and, in their place, offering a daily round-up of the major coronavirus-related travel headlines.

What’s in the episode

00:24 Mixing things up

01:02 No crowds in Kyoto

01:53 Nomadic Matt in isolation

02:53 Musicians stream live on Facebook

04:41 COVID headlines

05:31 Tour operator in self-isolation

08:45 Preparing for your next adventure

Quotes from the episode

“Clear out all the mental clutter, make space for the opportunities to come, but that is how I'm looking at the situation” - Cassandra

Who is in the episode

Cassandra Brooklyn is a travel writer and guidebook author based in New York City. She writes for The Daily Beast, Travel + Leisure, Fodor’s, Far & Wide, and Matador, among others. Cassandra founded EscapingNY, an off-the-beaten-path travel company, and leads group trips to Jordan, Mexico, and Cuba. She is also the author of Cuba by Bike, a cycling guidebook to Cuba.

Resources & links

What is the COVID virus and you can protect yourself?

Is it safe to travel? Michael Howard shares his advice on extra travel safety and health precautions you should take during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coronavirus updates.


Travel safety alerts.

Can you pick the Tom Hanks movie from the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his travel?

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

You can get in touch with us by emailing

We use the Rodecaster Pro to record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode.

Kim: With governments around the globe imposing lockdowns and limiting travel both inward and outward, amid the current virus pandemic, The World Nomads Travel Podcast is mixing things up.

Speaker 6: Welcome to The World Nomads Podcast, delivered by World Nomads, the travel, lifestyle, and insurance brand. It's not your usual travel podcast, it's everything for the adventurous, independent traveler.

Kim: Hi, it is Kim and Phil with you and as I said, mixing things up for the next month or so by giving you a daily roundup of all the major coronavirus related travel headlines, still in the wardrobe though Phil.

Phil: I'm getting used to the site of my own undies.

Kim: Yeah, we're working from home. We're checking with Nomads to see how they're using their time during this period of self-isolation and much more. But, as Phil mentioned in the episode we released this week, on Covid-19 there are some positives from being forced to slow down. The water is flowing through the canals of Venice, it's clear. The fish are visible, the swans have returned.

Phil: Yeah, that's great news isn't it. But, look in Kyoto, Japan, the virus couldn't have come at a worse time for the city because it's a place that's world-renowned for its cherry blossom that comes out springtime, it's all happening right now. Over tourism has been a bit of an issue for Kyoto, but local businesses really rely on the cherry blossom season for a spike in revenue, and that's not going to happen this year.

Kim: Well, the cherry blossoms will, but the traditional cherry blossom parties aren't because there aren't any people to party with.

Phil: Is it just me, or does cherry blossom party sound like a non sequitur. But anyway, carry on.

Kim: I'm dying to get to Japan for cherry blossom season.

Phil: Yeah.

Kim: That aside, shortly we're going to be catching up with Cassandra Brooklyn who runs EscapingNY, to find out what she's doing with her travel company, hit hard thanks to the virus.

Phil: And as a community, we're sending our thoughts to travel blogger Nomadic Matt. Hey Matt. He's tested positive to the virus and so he's in isolation. He was traveling recently to France and Taiwan. Meantime, Hollywood star, Tom Hanks and his wife have been released from a hospital in Australia. They contracted Covid-19, earlier in the week. They are not free of the virus yet, they're just going into self-isolation outside of the hospital.

Kim: A good time to share this travel quiz while you self-isolate and look for travel-inspired things to do. This is a real quiz by the way.

Phil: Okay.

Kim: Pick the Tom Hanks movie from the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his travel. We'll have a link in show notes.

Phil: There'll be volleyballs in that for sure. But, while the coronavirus has countries in lockdown and popular monuments, museums and festivals are closed, concerts have also been affected and yesterday Keith Urban and Chris Martin from Coldplay jumped on Facebook Live to give their fans around the world a real treat.

Keith Urban: We are coming to you live from our warehouse, actually. This is where we store all of our gear. It doesn't really get on camera very much. But, we thought we'll just set the stream up tonight. Mostly because we are supposed to be playing tonight and I just thought it would be nice to be able to play anyway even though we can't be in front of all you guys tonight. I want to be able to play and just play some songs and bring a little bit of entertainment into those screens right now, wherever you guys are watching this, all over the world. Thank you so much for jumping in here and joining us tonight.

Chris Martin: Hi, my name is Chris. Is this on? Yes, it is. So, I'm on my own sort of, in the house where I am. Where I live. And I was supposed to be with the band, Coldplay, today from which I come. But, we're stuck in different countries, so we can't play together. So, I thought what would be nice would be to check in with some of you out there and see how you're doing and where you are, and what I could do for you.

Chris Martin: Uruguay, hi in Uruguay, and there was Panama just now. Okay. Skater eight, is that your real name? [inaudible] Play Hymn for the Weekend. Okay. It goes like this.

Kim: That is very cool and I really am loving what people are doing, like the Italians singing from their balconies in a show of solidarity. But, Phil, what are some of the headlines from around the world?

Phil: Okay. Nearly eight million Northern California residents have been asked to self-isolate. That includes our friends in the Oakland office, the World Nomads Oakland office. The Spanish Prime Minister has announced an aid package, to address the impact of the virus, with that country in lockdown. Australia's airlines will get a $715 million government lifeline, with stage four travel restrictions in place. That is, do not travel. Unbelievable here in Australia, the government has told all of its citizens, don't go anywhere. Amazing. Turkey has confirmed its first coronavirus death and the EU has closed its borders for 30 days.

Kim: Now this, of course, is at the time of recording. Okay.

Phil: Yes and changing fast.

Kim: I know. Cassandra Brooklyn runs EscapingNY, which is quite ironic Phil because she's not escaping to anywhere right now.

Cassandra: It is. I can't even escape my apartment right now.

Kim: This is the way you live. You're a regular on the podcast and we do say you do group tours for the people who don't like doing group tours. So, you're used to being around a lot of people. You're used to being on the move. You're self-isolating and what are you doing?

Cassandra: I'm doing a bit of everything. I took up puzzles, I did a puzzle on Saturday, took me about five or six hours and it was really fun. And I love listening to podcasts like The World Nomads Podcast and I love listening to public radio. But I want to busy my hands so I'm not just sitting, staring at a wall listening. So, the puzzle worked really nicely for that. So, I'm looking forward to doing more of that. I'm reading, I'm watching Netflix, all the usual stuff. I've always loved to cook but now, especially with this restaurant ban, I'm thinking about, what recipes have I not done in a long time, or what are really involved recipes, or what's something that I would maybe only make if I'm hosting a big dinner party but not for myself because now since I have a little bit more time I can put that effort into it. So, I'm excited to prepare some things that I probably would not have otherwise.

Kim: Now, you're speaking to travelers a lot. How are they feeling about this virus?

Cassandra: I thought people were going to be really devastated and people are, people are upset and they're really down, but I'm encouraged to see so many people who are looking at the glass half full, looking at the positive side of it, thinking about how they can use their time. So, that's really encouraging. And I have been doing surveys on my Instagram asking, what kind of content do you want? Because, I put up a post today and I said, "Honestly, I'm just not in the mood to post some travel content." I'm a little bit down about what's going on and also I just don't feel it's really appropriate to post pictures of me gallivanting around the world having a great time when we have this really serious situation going on. But, I do understand that 99% of the news right now is the negative impact of coronavirus.

Cassandra: And I understand that some people might want that escape. And so I surveyed people like, "Hey, what kind of content do you want?" And one person said that they really appreciated me updating them on the status of coronavirus, particularly here in the United States and in New York City and what's going on, what are the travel policies and what can people expect at the airports. But, most people said, "We want your regular content. We want happy, upbeat content. We want travel stories. We want inspiring information." Somebody even said they want poems and literature and book recommendations. So, it was nice to know that people are looking for that and they are looking at it as a kind of escape.

Kim: Because, this virus will go away and we will resume our normal lives, so it is a great opportunity to take stock and think about where our next adventure might be.

Cassandra: Yeah, absolutely. Also, I think it's a great time to get through that email, your inbox, clear out that inbox. I cleaned out, off one of my bookshelves the other day. I'm doing a lot of cleaning at home, which also puts you in a better place for whatever comes next. So, when we are able to travel and we are able to leave the house more and do things, we've got all these other things out of the way that might have held us back in the future. So, we can clear out that physical clutter and that mental clutter right now while we have the space to do that and free ourselves up for the opportunities to come. That sounds like I'm in a yoga class, like at the end of a yoga class. They say things like that. Right?

Cassandra: Clear out all the mental clutter, make space for the opportunities to come, but that is how I'm looking at the situation. And hopefully, this will resume, hopefully... I had to cancel my Jordan trip, which was supposed to happen in a couple of weeks, but obviously, it was the right thing to do and I'm working with everybody right now to see if we're going to reschedule it for September or for maybe next April and just really taking stock of things. I send out a travel newsletter every two weeks or so and I usually just fill it with travel tips, travel information, travel giveaways, some personal stories about my trips and the one I'm sending out tomorrow is completely different. It's a list of resources to help support people through this self-isolation.

Kim: So, how do we subscribe to that?

Cassandra: So, you go to, like escaping New York. Yeah, and you should get a pop up to join the newsletter. If you don't, just scroll down to the bottom of the page and you can throw your email on there and you will hear from me and you will get free travel itineraries and travel packing checklists.

Kim: Thanks Cassandra, and let us know how your travel plans, or your business, or your blog has been affected and what you're doing while self-isolating, by emailing and we will check in with you again tomorrow.

Phil: Yes, we are a community of travelers, and as the Italians, World Nomads will be on a balcony, singing our hearts out, connecting and supporting our community in very innovative and interesting ways through the podcast. Stay with us. We'll see you again tomorrow.

Keith Urban: The World Nomads Podcast. Explore your boundaries.

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