The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News, 24 June

In this episode, the couple stranded on a tropical island waiting for borders to open, collecting rubbish, perfecting fermentation and helping save the local cats.


Couple with a cat Photo © Supplied: Jason and Nikki Wynn stranded in Fiji caring for little Pip

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The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News

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 has suspended its regular destination episodes and, in their place, offering a round-up of the major coronavirus-related travel headlines, including the future of travel.

What’s in the episode

00:50 Requirements for getting into Cambodia

02:15 New design for plane cabins

03:31 Armchair travel inspiration

05:25 How this couple ended up stuck in Fiji

08:21 Making the most of a bad situation

12:11 Fermenting skills

15:09 Worrying about cyclone season

18:48 Helping the cats of Fiji

21:13 Next episode

Quotes from the episode

“We probably have a month of work to do on the boat because she needs some new parts and some love before she gets sea-worthy again. And depending on the timeframe, if we can still sail to New Zealand, we will and that should happen 1st of October-ish.” - Jason

“Yeah. We've taken our fermentation skills to the next level; I suppose you could say. We've done kombucha and sourdough, and pickles, and fermented hot sauce. And so, now, yes, we have turned to making fermented soda and pineapple beer, ginger beer, turmeric beer.” - Nikki

couple with bottles of cordial
Photo credit: Supplied. Nikki and Jason making Tepache, a Mexican fermented pineapple drink. 

Who is in the episode

Jason and Nikki Wynn have traded in everyday life to satisfy their sense of adventure. Currently stranded in Fiji with their catamaran Curiosity waiting for them in Tonga.

“Neither of us are overly talented, smart, rich, lucky, or retired. But that doesn’t stop us from reaching far-flung destinations, having wild adventures, and managing everything that makes living aboard a moving vessel possible.  We’re two ordinary people that just so happen to live an extraordinary life.”

Follow their YouTube channel for their latest adventures.

Resources & links

Nikki and Jason’s story raising money for Animals Fiji.

Watch the World Nomads Mexico Discoveries series in a tribute to Aquilino García López known for his mezcal tequila, who has passed away following a car accident.

Watch the trailer to Lorena, Light Footed Woman available on Netflix.

The game-changing plane seating idea.

Tune in to the our podcast episode featuring Nikki and Jason, just two years into their adventure.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and World Nomads Travel Insurance Coverage.

Travel safety alerts.

In self-isolation? You can put your time to good use practicing your travel writing skills

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: In this episode, the couple stranded on a tropical island collecting rubbish, perfecting fermentation, and helping save the local cats while they wait for the borders to open.

Hi again, Kim and Phil with you revisiting an American couple we featured as Amazing Nomads in an earlier episode, Jason and Nikki Wynn, who, in their words “traded in everyday life to satisfy their wear-out-your-shoes sense of adventure on a catamaran”, but thanks to COVID are stranded in Fiji. Their story shortly but what is happening in travel news?

Phil: In Cambodia, all foreign nationals must make a deposit when entering the country, by cash or credit card of 3 thousand US dollars with a designated commercial bank. The deposit will be used to pay for the expenses of implementing health measures - COVID-19 test, quarantine fees, etc.

There could be a solution to social distancing on planes just around the corner.

Called the Zephyr Seat, the design belongs to the CEO of start-up Zephyr Aerospace Jeffrey O’Neill. It involves reconfiguring the main cabin with double-decker style lie-flat seats. We’ll put the article in show notes so you can see the design.

Outdoor dining at restaurants has resumed in New York along with hair salons, professional offices, and in-store retail establishments could reopen in New York City, as the city transitioned to Phase 2 of lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, most of the state of New York is in Phase 3, under which additional establishments can reopen and gatherings are allowed for up to 25 people.

Taiwan has reduced the time you need to quarantine for business travelers from low-risk countries – which was one of the sectors identified as the first to resume.

And if you are still hungry for armchair travel inspo this doco was out last year and available on Netflix - it’s the story of Lorena Ramírez from a pastoral community in Mexico who straps on her sandals to compete as an ultramarathon runner.

Kim: I have watched this and loved it Lorena, Light-Footed Woman. She not only runs in sandals but also a dress and competes all around the world winning a string of titles.

Phil: This might be a good time to pay tribute to Aquilino Garcia Lopez who featured in our Mexico discoveries series known for his mezcal tequila – he has sadly passed away after a car accident.

Kim: And he made it the traditional way with stone tahona’s and mud. We will put a link to the series in show notes. Now it’s time to check in with Jason and Nikki Wynn who have spent the past four years sailing their catamaran but with border closures, they are stuck in Fiji and their beloved floating home is docked an hour’s flight away in another country.

Insert Music sting

Jason: We were flying home for the cyclone season. And it's our first time to ever go back to visit family and friends in the past four years, and we thought, "Okay, cyclone season's coming. We should go visit family and leave our boat and go get some provisions and some boat parts and see friends and family." And then... Oh, it was wonderful. And then we thought, "Oh, well, on the way back, let's go to South Africa and see some other friends.". And, "Oh, it was wonderful.". And then we hop on a plane and then this COVID thing happens, and on our flight, going back to our boat, the rules all changed. And we were stuck in Fiji, not allowed to continue onto Tonga, which is where our home and our boat, Curiosity, is sitting on the [hard 00:00:00:46], waiting for us to come home and repair the heck out of her.

Interviewer: It's only one hour away, isn't it, Tonga from Fiji?

Nikki: Yeah. One hour flight. Unfortunately, we were all good to go and the rules changed literally while we were in the air. So when we landed in Fiji, they said, "You cannot board your flight to Tonga. You have to quarantine in Fiji for 14 days.", because at the time Fiji was COVID free. And so they were just requiring a quarantine for 14 days in a COVID-free country. And that's what we were doing, and then three days into our quarantine, they closed all the borders, and then that was that. Fiji went into lockdown, Tonga went into lockdown and so did the rest of the world.

Interviewer: How long have you been in lockdown, then? Or isolating, quarantine, whatever you call it, you stranded in Fiji. How long have you been stranded?

Jason: I think it's 69 days.

Interviewer: How are you feeling?

Jason: Oh, it's a roller coaster, for sure.

Nikki: Up and down. We have a little moment of, something good happens or we accomplish something and we're feeling great. And then we go and we check the news to see what the status is, and it sounds like there's maybe a Pacific bubble opening up, but it doesn't sound like anytime soon, or something else happens, and... The date of getting back to our home just feels like it's getting further and further away, all the time.

Jason: Yeah, that light at the end of the tunnel seems like it's getting further away and every time we check the news, it's just depressing.

Interviewer: Yeah, I watched your video. I think it was about 20 minutes on your site where you talked about the things that you doing to pass the time and... Nikki, you're fascinated by cockles. It's that simple.

Nikki: Yeah, you know that your entertainment is limited when you can spend hours on the beach, just watching cockles bury themselves in the sand.

Interviewer: I love the way that you can feel or see or hear this self-deprecating "It is what it is" in your voices. Are they the type of people you are?

Jason: Yeah, we don't take ourselves too seriously and we definitely... Even though we like to make nice videos, we try not to be too serious about it. And it's more about just having fun and letting the world be our exploration, and even if it's just a little cockle burying itself in the sand, or a simple beach cleanup.

Interviewer: Well, the beach cleanups have been incredible. Since we chatted, I follow you on Instagram and, my word. You have found some bizarre stuff in those daily, or weekly beach cleanups? Or I think they're daily, aren't they? Just an hour a day?

Nikki: Yeah, we go down for the sunset, or we try to every day and get a little exercise and it just seems like we're going to walk anyway, we can pick up trash along the way. So we have the one box that we collect every day because, otherwise, we didn't give ourselves a limit. It would never end. I do one box a day, and each day... Yeah, it is incredible, the things that we find, and every day it seems to be a new gem.

Interviewer: I know, Jason, what you're going to say is the weirdest thing you've found, but you tell me and I'll see if I was right. I don't have a piece of paper to write it down, but...

Jason: Well, I would say the weirdest thing that I've found, I didn't actually share because it wasn't good. The next weirdest thing I found was a credit card machine, I forgot what they call them. It's like a manual credit card swiper that we would see in the '80s and maybe even the '90s, but I thought it was hilarious. I, never in my life, thought doing a beach cleanup would make me feel old, but when I found that credit card machine, I thought, "I bet half of the people in the world don't even know what this is because it's so outdated.".

Interviewer: Yeah, as you said, "Show someone under 25 and they wouldn't know what it is.". I thought that was the weirdest, what was the weirdest thing you found?

Nikki: No, that wouldn't be probably the weirdest, it would probably be the most disgusting thing you found on the beach. That would be what you're thinking.

Jason: No, no, the weirdest thing I found, that's sitting there right now, is about 20 paint cans. That has just been put there on the beach and they're just waiting to either burn them or waiting for the king tide that comes next week to wash it away. It's kind of sad.

Interviewer: Wow.

Jason: It's one of those things... We don't really want to share, and we don't really know what to do about it, other than throwing our hands up and go, "What can we do?".

Interviewer: Well-

Nikki: Yeah, so we do our beach cleanups each day, and we feel like that's as good as we can do for the moment.

Jason: Yeah.

Interviewer: We did a beach cleanup on Ishigaki, this island in the Okiwana prefrect... I can never say that, prefect... You know what I'm talking about.

Nikki: Yes.

Interviewer: It's closer to Taiwan than it is to Tokyo and very pristine, but we did a beach cleanup, and the weirdest thing that we found was this totally intact meter long fluorescent light.

Jason: Wow.

Nikki: Wow. That's impressive.

Interviewer: Not a scratch, not a crack. You'd be tempted to take it home and see if it worked.

Nikki: Yeah, you have to wonder, did it actually make its way there? Did it float and actually not break and just waiting for you to find it? Or did somebody intentionally leave it there?

Interviewer: Well-

Nikki: If only that light bulb could have talked.

Interviewer: We did have that conversation. Because the cool thing about that little area was that you could only get there when the tide was out through a cave system.

Jason: Oh, wow.

Nikki: Wow.

Interviewer: The other things you guys are doing to while away the days, some home brewing.

Nikki: Yes. Yeah. We've taken our fermentation skills to the next level, I suppose you could say. We've done kombucha and sourdough, and pickles, and fermented hot sauce. And so, now, yes, we have turned to making fermented soda and pineapple beer, ginger beer, turmeric beer.

Interviewer: So when you're not cleaning up rubbish, you're half sloshed?

Nikki: So we can't get hold of champagne yeast or brewer's yeast, it's still pretty low alcohol. It's just more a refreshing beverage with slight alcohol content. Nothing too crazy.

Interviewer: Nice. You guys were also caught up in a hurricane there. Were you worried about Curiosity?

Jason: Oh yeah. The cyclone was coming through, ripping through the Solomons and Vanuatu and it destroyed some of those islands and was heading fiercely fast, right towards us here in Fiji. Fortunately, it lost a little steam as an F4 and then it continued on, picked up power, and hit Tonga as a category five. And it hit the little island of... The main island of Tonga called Nukuʻalofa. But fortunately for us, our boat's in Vava'u, which is in the Northern part, and it just had high winds and flooding. Which sounds crazy to say it just had.

Nikki: But it could've been so much worse, so luckily, the boat survived and all of our friends, we're all fine. Other than tree limbs and some beach erosion and the standard stuff that comes along with the cyclone. Everything else was still intact. We felt like we dodged not one bullet, but two.

Jason: Yeah.

Interviewer: The frustrating thing is you can't fly, we know that but you can't even get into a boat to go to your boat because it's not only borders that are closed, but ports.

Nikki: Yeah. Nobody's coming in, nobody's going out kind of thing right now. I don't know of anywhere that's open at the moment. Everybody we talk to around the world, we've been having lots of Skype sessions and FaceTimes with our fellow sailors around the world and everybody's situation is slightly different, for sure but one thing, it remains, which is nobody's going anywhere. There's nowhere to go. Sometimes coastguards won't even let you leave unless you have a signed document saying that you have an open port to go to.

Interviewer: Yeah, I've spoken to a couple of people that are... Families. One family, in fact, that are on boats in the Caribbean, and a little further south, and they're... A little further North, I think, they're really concerned about the hurricane season because if-

Jason: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: ...the coastguard doesn't let them go, they're in a whole world of danger. And then there's an insurance issue on top of that if the boat's smashed. So there's a lot to be frightened about.

Nikki: Yeah, absolutely. It's very unsettling, yeah. And same for us, if we can't get back, what starts to happen then, we have yet another cyclone season upon us, which then means we have to leave the boat where it is because of insurance reasons. Exactly that, to be able to remain insured, or we have to sail somewhere fast enough to get out of the box, so to say, while we have enough time. Yes, it's so many things that are up in the air and I don't feel like anybody can make any decisions and make any sort of clear path because there are just way too many variables and unknowns.

Interviewer: Totally. Last time we spoke, I think you were heading to New Zealand, that was the plan, and then coming into Australia. In your discussions at home, over your beach walks, what have you decided to do once the border's open and the port's open?

Jason: Well, that's what Nikki was saying about timing. We probably have a month of work to do on the boat because she needs some new parts and some love before she gets sea-worthy again. And depending on the timeframe, if we can still sail to New Zealand, we will and that should happen 1st of October-ish. Then we go to New Zealand and then from there, maybe Australia, maybe back up into the islands, but the plan originally was to sail over to Fiji, but now, I don't think we'll be welcome back.

Interviewer: I don't think you'd be ready for Fiji for some time.

Jason: Exactly.

Nikki: It's so sad, we've been in Fiji, all this time, and it was just so strange to us because we've been here for so long now, yet we haven't seen...

Jason: Any-

Nikki: Any of the island itself.

Interviewer: So you will return? Just not straight away.

Jason: Yeah.

Nikki: Yes. Yeah.

Jason: Probably not to Nandi.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Jason: We'll go explore the outer islands, I think.

Interviewer: Lovely. Now, as we wrap up, I know you were traveling with your cats. Firstly, where are they?

Nikki: So, unfortunately, that was one of the other reasons that led us home as we had... Our one cat was 19 years old and she was starting to have some old people problems like liver and kidney failure and so on and so forth and there really aren't any vets in the islands. We needed to get her home to proper medical care and, unfortunately, a month after we arrived, she passed.

And then our other cat [Singa 00:12:03], he's getting older as well. And just with the state of medical care in the islands for animals and him getting older, if we ran into any similar issues, we knew that leaving him behind with friends is going to be the better option. Plus, he is a very, very active cat. He likes lots of land time and we just weren't able to find that in the islands, we very rarely got taken to shore just because there's so many stray dogs or loose dogs, just kind of island life, right? Dogs everywhere.

But it just became a real health hazard every time, to take him to shore for fear of the dogs. So we just found that it was time to leave him behind for where we are in the world now. And he is back on Mutiny Ranch in Cortez, Colorado with our good friends Lynn and Clark with, quite literally, a Mutiny Farm day. They take in all sorts of rescue animals that are too old to be productive on a farm anymore and, rather than putting them down, they let them live out their lives there. So he has a whole crew of new friends.

Jason: And a girlfriend.

Interviewer: And a girlfriend? Do you FaceTime him?

Nikki: We have a few times, yes, actually. Once while we were making ginger beer and we were FaceTimed and we got to see him and his girlfriend snuggled up on the couch together.

Interviewer: That's nice, a bit like yourselves, but you're also helping some stray cats in Fiji as well?

Jason: Yeah. It's crazy. We were at the market one day and there was this baby kitten just laying right on the edge of a busy market with the busiest street in Fiji. And she just passed out, so we picked her up, we brought her home, we tried to make her... Get her some food, get her healthy. And then we took her over to the vet because she needed some... She had this little rash or whatever. And then, it brought us on this whole journey of finding this place called Animals Fiji, it's a veterinarian and a shelter and...

Nikki: Basically a welfare agency for the animals here. And so they're working to collect all the strays and the sick animals, they vaccinate them, they get them well, they desex them, and then they release them again or they adopt them.

Jason: Try to find them a forever home, is what they say. So we've got this little cat and we thought, "How can we help animals, Fiji?" and so we made a video about it, thinking we could maybe raise like 1,500 USD, which would save about 10 animals. And it turns out, we've raised...

Nikki: But the fundraiser is still going, but it's well over $25,000. It's amazing.

Jason: Floored by the generosity of people and it's just incredible to watch. Little Pip is her name, we call her Pip, short for pipsqueak and she has been definitely our little blessing in this crazy COVID world.

Interviewer: The video is on your website, but we can share the fundraising details as well. I spoke to a traveler who's stranded in a bungalow in rural Thailand and she's hooked up with a group of ex-pats who are looking after the stray dogs who rely on the scraps from the hotels to survive, but of course, the hotels are closed.

Jason: Oh my gosh.

Interviewer: So all the dogs are starving. It's pretty sad, isn't it?

Nikki: Yeah. But it's nice to know that, even in such a tough time, people are still willing to give and to help where they can. A little bit of light in otherwise dark times.

Interviewer: Well, lovely to catch up with you guys, as always. As I follow you on Instagram, I'll be able to update in the podcast on when you're finally able to be reunited with Curiosity.

Nikki: A big day.

Interviewer: Yeah. A bottle of champagne, if you can find one.

Nikki: Yeah, right, I know.

Jason: Thanks for having us.

Insert Music sting

Kim: We will share that video in show notes along with their Amazing Nomads episode. A reminder to get in touch and share your story email

Phil: Next episode the company helping your source dirt cheap flights and we speak to an ex-pat living in Greece on how the country is going now that it has opened its borders to travelers.



1 Comment

  • Anne Harai said

    As a cat lover myself, Jason & Nikki are my heroes :) What a great way to spend isolation, helping all these wonderful animals. I hope you can back to your boat soon and introduce little Pip to life on the ocean. Hugs to you both & Pip from Seattle!

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