The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News, 23 March

In this episode the latest coronavirus travel headlines, airlines continue to cut flights and staff and what it’s like to be an expat during lockdown?


Empty aiport Photo © Rob Duthie: This check-in at Sydney airport is normally buzzing with travelers

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The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News 23 March

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

00:37 Economic blow to Japan

01:28 The airlines continue to be smashed

02:03 Why are these Chicago residents belting out a Bon Jovi song from their windows?

03:11 Martina Grossi

04:38 Being so far from home

07:48 What it’s like to be a freelancer during the pandemic

09:03 A message for ex-pats

10:08 Next episode

Quotes from the episode

“If you're an ex-pat and you cannot go home or you cannot have your family with you, just connect with that sense of adventure. I know this sounds crazy, but just connect with that energy that says that you can deal with uncertainty and be okay” - Martina

In lockdown or self-isolation? Here’s a list of the best virtual travel experiences.

Who is in the episode

Martina is an Argentinian with a passion for travel. After living in Denmark and exploring Europe for a year, the time came to keep the adventure going in New Zealand. Martina is now isolated from her family in Argentina and shares what it’s like to be an ex-pat in lockdown.

Follow her blog, The Global Curious.

Resources & links

A message to our nomads.

What is the COVID virus and how 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.

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 lightest travel headlines related to coronavirus, and what it's like to be an ex-pat during a lockdown.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the new daily World Nomads podcast. We'll be keeping you up to date with travel alerts, information about coronavirus and sharing some uplifting news and views to inspire you and keep you smiling.

Kim: Hi, it's Kim and Phil, putting on hold our destination episodes and using the time to give you a daily roundup of all the major coronavirus related travel headlines. This is at the time of recording of course, and hear your stories of self-isolation or lockdown, but what are some of those headlines, Phil?

Phil: All right. Well, the big news is that the Tokyo Olympics has been postponed for a year to 2021, but that's a huge economic blow to Japan. Obviously not just all the athletes, but it's a massive sort of tourist drawcard as well. Cuba has closed its doors for the next 30 days to combat the spread of coronavirus and Yosemite National Park in California is closed until further notice. Lots of national parks have been closing facilities, but this is the first time there's been a full closure of a park.

Kim: Well, here in Australia where World Nomads headquarters is, Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays is shutting down for the foreseeable future.

Phil: But they've had a rough trot the last couple of years, so it's only two years ago they had that cyclone went through, wasn't it?

Kim: I think everybody around the globe would agree, Australia's had a rough trot recently.

Phil: Yeah, fair enough.

Kim: When it comes to the airlines, Virgin Australia is cutting more domestic flights and Emirates has slashed it's passenger flight destinations to 13. That's down from 145.

Phil: Hey, have you heard about Singapore as well? Singapore Airlines and SilkAir. They've got, how many planes have they got? 147 planes and they're grounding 138 of them. You can't transit through Singapore either, they're not taking transits.

Kim: Yeah, that's right. I did read that. Well picked up.

Phil: Thank you very much.

Kim: And look, there are plenty of uplifting stories. You only have to follow social media to get a laugh or a smile. Like the Chicago residents belting out Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer from the windows and their balconies. The keyboardist, David Brian has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Phil: Oh no.

Phil: (singing).

Phil: Look, people haven't lost their sense of fun. Even some of the tweets make you smile like this. "...boyfriend starts laughing to himself in the kitchen. Turns out he'd just learned that 88 couples have come out of quarantine in China and immediately filed for divorce."

Kim: I love it. Well, Martina is an Argentinian, a passion for travel after living in Denmark and exploring Europe for a year. The time came to keep the adventure going in New Zealand. So let's check in with her, Phil, and see what's happening.

Martina: So right now... I've been living in New Zealand for nearly six years. I just came with the working holiday and then stayed and my partner, he's from Chile. So we're both ex-pats. And right now it's interesting because as I was telling you before, I'm just following the news back home, I'm following the news here in New Zealand. One thing that like, it's a bit of a silver lining, it's that I think that the government in Argentina has acted really quickly, and with the whole wave of the state, let's say. So just protecting people, everyone's under quarantine. It's mandatory.

Martina: But it's funny because I was following the news, and you could see many people will go to the beach or just go to their summer houses. So then now everyone needs to stay home, and my parents are already 65 so I was quite worried about them because my dad, he's self-employed so he was still going out up until a couple of days ago, and now we spoke yesterday and it's okay, everyone's home, they already have a plan in place and they're fine.

Martina: So I think one of the things about being so far from home is knowing that the government is really doing their best, which of course I really wish I was there with them. Here in New Zealand, it's also similar just in that she's doing a great job trying to keep us all safe. So yeah, that's the situation now. It's hard being far from home, but at the same time, I feel they're also being taking care of, in a way.

Kim: It's strange isn't it? Because you're so used to jumping borders-

Martina: Yes.

Kim: ... and flitting around the world, and now all of a sudden you can't do that or get to your family. There must be certainly a level of anxiety for you.

Martina: It is. But at the same time, I don't know, I try to be as conscious as possible like I wouldn't dare in a way to challenge these restrictions, because at the same time being a traveler, I know what it takes to jump borders as you said, Kim, and that it's important to take care of each other. I think one thing travelers and ex-pats can kind of leverage at this stage is just being conscious. We've been in many places, hence we know that people in different parts of the world live different styles, or have different access levels of access to the things that we are very used to. So, it's just like trying to take care of everyone really. I actually had a trip planned to Argentina. I'm supposed to go to the beginning of July.

Martina: So now, of course, I don't know if that's happening. And then my mother-in-law, she's from Chile, she was coming in three weeks' time. Of course, that's not happening. So it's very stressful, but at the same time, I personally believe that, sorry if this sounds a little bit of a whoo whoo, but you can be really close to someone physically, and have a big emotional distance. So maybe now it's time to accept that we are far from the people that we love as ex-pats, but that we can also connect at a deeper level emotionally, and just keep in touch with our families and support each other.

Martina: And then also as a traveler and an ex-pat, I'm also quite used to living with uncertainty and as a freelancer, so you know, if you work from home, if you're a freelancer, you're used to the life with getting your clients and just dealing with life uncertainty. So I guess maybe it's a good time to tune back into that feeling of, okay, so it's a curveball that life is throwing our us, but we actually have a chance to grow.

Kim: You mentioned your dad is self-employed and you as a freelancer, are you worried about your income?

Martina: Well, it's funny because at the moment I'm very lucky I'm fully booked for work, but then many friends are asking me that and that being said, I am kind of worried, but again, I've been so worried in the past that now I'm like, "Okay, I know at this stage I have the skills and the tools to keep going." I'm putting together a little bit of a strategy, like a mindset strategy of understanding that I can stay positive, and really keep the flow of work coming back. My partner, he works in construction, he's an electrician, so every day, every time he calls me from work I'm like, "What did they say? Are you working tomorrow? Are you not working tomorrow?"

Martina: So that's quite unsettling. I understand there are so many people that are really struggling right now. I don't own a house. Maybe that's related to all the travel. I spend most of my money traveling. But I can imagine if you're paying a mortgage, and you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow because none of us really know.

Kim: And what would then be your closing message to ex-pats, people in your situation?

Martina: If you're an ex-pat and you cannot go home or you cannot have your family with you, just connect with that sense of adventure. I know this sounds crazy but just connect with that energy that says that you can actually deal with uncertainty and be okay, and just go with it day by day. Everyone's plans have gone to the rubbish bin right now. So just try and stay connected with family, showing them that you are staying positive and really let that reflect.

Kim: Yep. Tough times when you're forced away from family. And look, since recording that chat with Martina, New Zealand is now preparing to go into lockdown.

Phil: Full lockdown. Look, please share your COVID-19 story with us. Email us at In tomorrow's episode, you catch up with Jessie who shares her loss of income from her travel since the pandemic.

Kim: And just like that tweet you mentioned, Jessie will speak about adjusting from being the sole person who works from home to now sharing an extremely small Manhattan apartment with her fiance.

Phil: I've got the same here. Schools have closed in Sydney, so my wife and I are working from home, and now the kids are going to be doing it as well. I don't think we've got enough desks.

Kim: Good luck, Phil, good luck.

Phil: Thanks, mate.

Kim: Bye.

Phil: Bye.

Speaker 2: The World Nomads podcast. Explore your boundaries.


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