As governments around the globe impose lockdowns and people self-isolate, coronavirus (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.
00:41 How COVID-19 is affecting Australia
01:30 Sean’s not going anywhere
05:42 The latest Google Chrome extension bringing people together
06:26 Why this nomad is happy to be self-isolating
10:36 Connecting with the traveling community
11:18 Get in touch
“I've been a nomad for the last six years, and traveling has been my entire life, and it's the one time in my life that I don't want to travel. I'm really happy to just be in one place, not planning the next trip, not thinking about where I'm going or anything, just reflecting on all of the adventures that I've had.” - Cassie
“I'm disappointed that we're not going, but the world is a much bigger place than just me and I realize that there's a lot more danger in the world and a lot more people that are in a lot worse situation.” - Sean
Originally from England, Cassie Wilkins left behind her cushy job as a travel agent in 2013 to begin a new chapter as a full-time travel writer and digital nomad, traversing the planet in search of wild adventures and ridiculous road trips. So far, she's traveled to 45 countries but now is happy to be self-isolating in Australia. You can follow Cassie on Instagram @cassanomad
Sean Thompson is a Senior Learning Designer with OpenLearning and the man who inspired the hashtag #keepyourleaveupyoursleeve
In self-isolation? You can put your time to good use practicing your travel writing skills
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Kim: In this daily COVID-19 episode, the latest travel headlines from around the world, the newest #feel and the travel writer happy to be in self-isolation.
Announcer: 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's Kim and Phil with you and with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting travel in the travel industry, the World Nomads travel podcast is mixing things up. We're putting on hold our destination episodes and we're using the time to give you a daily roundup of all the major coronavirus related travel headlines.
Phil: For Australia today, some major news with our national airline Qantas grounding all international flights and standing down two-thirds of their employees. That's about 20,000 people. While the Island state of here it comes, came Tasmania-
Kim: My hometown, my home state.
Phil: No, you're not going home for a while because they've shut the borders. They're imposing fines of over 16,000 Aussie dollars. That's about $9,000 US for breaching 14-day self-isolation and quarantine when you arrive on the Apple Isle.
Kim: Now, before we get to other travel news and the travel writer happy to be in self-isolation, let's hear from Shawn. Now the Australian government's decision to enact a stage four travel ban, never had this before, forced him to cancel his trip to the UK.
Shawn: I mean, we were already just because I think we were trying to be conscious of all the ramifications of it, but the today's decision would have cemented and if it hadn't already, and so we, my wife and I had a trip to the United Kingdom planned. We were going to leave in about three weeks from now. We're going to go there for three weeks. We're not going anymore. Yeah.
Kim: What was the reaction to that? You know, normally if you would have to cancel an overseas holiday, it'd be quite devastating. I'm getting the sense that most people are accepting, "Well, that's what it is."
Shawn: I think that's true. I think that my guess, certainly on my part, but I would guess it's the same for other people, is that you get a sense of the gravity of the larger situation. We obviously, we didn't know until pretty much today that whether, what the situation was going to be in terms of us being able to get a refund on our flights but even with that, I had a bit of perspective in that I thought ... We have been able to get a refund, a full refund. Even with that, I thought, "Well, ours is just one story. There is a lot of this going on." Obviously the airlines are being affected. The hospitality industry is being affected.
Shawn: Definitely I've taken it in my stride. I definitely, I'm disappointed that we're not going, but the world is a much bigger place than just me and I realize that there's a lot more danger in the world and a lot more people that are in a lot worse situation. I've definitely taken it in my stride.
Kim: How have you coped with your accommodation? What's your plan there?
Shawn: Yeah, so it's been actually a bit tricky with the accommodation because we were going on a road trip and so we actually were staying at 10 different places, which we'd already booked and arranged everything for them months ago. Most of them were little B&Bs, little guesthouses around the country towns of England and Wales and Scotland. Whereas with the airlines, I obviously wanted to get our tickets back because they are obviously very expensive. Plus also, I guess I'm figuring that the airlines, as much as they're going to get hurt, they're also going to be compensated to some extent by the government and stimulus packages. I did really think with these B&B's, they're small businesses. They're going to get hurt by this a lot.
Shawn: My thinking was, and what I've actually done today, is approached them all and basically said, "Well actually, instead of asking them for a refund or if we just move the dates?" I mean that's not completely based on altruism on my part. I did it also to some extent through my own, serving my own needs because we would like to eventually go back on the holiday. I thought that was a bit of a symbiosis that we had where we wanted to help these guys, give them as much business as we can.
Shawn: My suggestion to all of them was we actually don't want to cancel, so to speak. We actually just want to move the dates to six months from now or whatever it may be. That means, and in fact, it's funny because in their response ... It was very much a boilerplate proforma response. In the signature of their email, it actually said something along the lines of "Don't cancel change the date," or something like that. Basically suggesting that, to do what we actually had done, and it made me really realize at that point that really it's really in both of our interests to do that.
Kim: What about your annual leave? Will you still take it or continue to work?
Shawn: I know I'm going to continue to work because we do want to make the trip so for that reason I wanted to get back to work and keep the leave up my sleeve.
Kim: I love that. #keepyourleaveupyoursleeve. That's going to trend, isn't it?
Phil: I'm using it. There's now a Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party that allows friends to enjoy movie nights together while practicing good quarantine and social distancing habits. Look, the hits keep on coming. There are a number of countries that are closing their borders. Bolivia is one of them. All 50 States in the US now have confirmed cases of the virus and Washington state is setting up a hospital for coronavirus patients at a soccer field.
Kim: Well, let's get to Cassie. She left behind a cushy job as a travel agent to begin a new chapter of her life as a full-time travel writer and digital nomad. She has, Phil, had a crazy 36 hours.
Cassie: I've been in Australia for the last year on a working holiday, but my visa ran out and I'm normally a traveler. I'm a full-time nomad. I've been living on the road for the last six and a bit years, but I don't really want to go back to England. I don't have a life there right now, even though it's where my family and stuff are. Australia is home to me at the moment. Instead of traveling, I wanted to come back, but in order to come back, I needed to leave.
Cassie: I had to fly to Bali and I was originally planning on going for a month. Then I've been avidly following the news since day one, so I changed my flight so I was only going for five days instead. I got there. I walked through the airport. The flight was half empty, but Australia had just put in those two-week quarantine restrictions. I was expecting that. I got there. Everything was normal. Everything was fine. I was like, "Oh this is great," just in my taxi back from the airport like, "Okay breathe. You're back in the tropics. This is a great place to be." Then within 12 hours, they had announced that Indonesia was going to be closing its borders for visa on arrival as of the 20th. Australia had issued a statement asking all of its citizens to consider returning home and avoid nonessential travel.
Cassie: Because I was a tourist, I was like, "Oh gosh, Oh gosh. Oh gosh, I've got to get back right now because I am not an Australian resident." There's no way that I would be repatriated here if anything happened. I was sitting in a restaurant and my friend was like, "Book a flight right now. Just get back to Australia, whatever you have to do."
Cassie: I just booked myself a brand new flight. Then my card didn't work, so I had to get my friend to do it. He did it for me and I was racing back across the island on my scooter in the dark, trying to get back to my accommodation so I could pack up and make my way to the airport, and then I got back and I checked the flight that he'd booked for me and he'd spelled my name wrong. I was just like, "Oh my gosh, this couldn't get much worse right now."
Cassie: Luckily, I woke him up. I just called him a bunch of times until he woke up like, "Change my name." Then I got to the airport really early just in case anything went down and there were a bunch of people sleeping there. It was the busiest I've seen the airport at night, but luckily a lot of places in Bali airport stay open all night. That was good. Yeah. Then I was first in the queue to get out in the morning and straight through immigration and I was a bit worried about whether they'd let me in as a tourist and everything. Actually, it was a total breeze. Then my friend picked me up from the airport and I disinfected his car afterward. Now I'm settling in for two weeks of quarantine in my house.
Kim: How do you plan to spend your two weeks?
Cassie: I have a lot of photographs from the last six years on the road that I've never really had the time to sit and go through. I think this is the time, the perfect time that I've been waiting for. It's funny because like I said, I've been a nomad for the last six years, and traveling has been my entire life, and it's the one time in my life that I don't want to travel. I'm really happy to just be in one place, not planning the next trip, not thinking about where I'm going or anything, just reflecting on all of the adventures that I've had. My friend, he dropped his dog over this morning, so I have some company to keep me a bit sane because the last few days have been quite crazy. He's like, "I'm just going to leave my dog so you don't get a little bit too stir crazy." That was nice.
Kim: Well it sounds like you've got the next couple of weeks sorted.
Cassie: It's funny. I'm looking forward to this just self-imposed exile to relax a little bit and distress and plan the next, I don't know, a few months, years of my life. It's like everything's on the brink of big change, especially within the travel industry. I have a lot of friends who work as travel agents and lots of people who have been losing their jobs, flight attendants and all sorts of things. I'm worried about what's going to happen to a lot of my friends.
Cassie: I have to maybe rethink my career as a travel writer. I don't know. Start to think about diversifying. I have a lot of friends who are stuck in different places all over the world right now, and most people don't want to be there. They want to be back home or they're being very conscious and very aware of where they are and who they're surrounding themselves by and exiling themselves in their hotels and stuff. I have a huge network of people all over the world, and right now, I'm connecting with all of them and I have the time and space to be able to, and that makes me so happy.
Kim: There is always a silver lining and Cassie is hooking me up with a lot of her travel friends to share their stories seriously over the next few weeks. Some of the stories you are going to hear are jaw-dropping, as we're forced to slow down with the coronavirus pandemic.
Phil: Yeah, look, we want to hear your story. To share the news with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good ones, bad ones. We've got to try and keep this light and shade as well. It's not all doom and gloom. Let's join together as a good travel community and talk about what we're doing.
Kim: See you.
Announcer: The World Nomads podcast. Explore your boundaries.