The World Nomads Podcast: COVID-19 Travel News, 29 April

In this episode, the island spending millions to draw tourists back, the country Thailand is banking on to resurrect the travel industry, and what two US travel writers are creating to survive the pandemic.


island Photo © Getty Images/Flavio Vallenari: The island paying travelers to visit

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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

00:39 Props for Air New Zealand

02:26 Katy’s thoughts on Lonely Planet

04:37 What does armchair travel mean for Katy?

07:31 Shifting your mindset

09:37 The rise of the destination wedding

10:32 Trends to come

12:19 A reminder of Will Hatton’s advice

12:46 Still to come

Quotes from the episode

“We have obviously 50 States and a lot of stuff to see and I think what's really going to come out of  this crisis will be people in the US really exploring their own backyard …there is so much to see in our huge varied nation and every state is kind of like its own little country.” - Katy

“I'm just dying to get back out there. I think anyone who's an avid traveler is, I think we're all just raring to go. But it'll be interesting to see how the industry does come out of this. I know it will.” - J.Q.Louise

Who is in the episode

Katy Spratte Joyce is a journalist using her love of writing to share travel experiences and the restaurants she seeks out along the way.

Read Katy’s story featured in the New York Times about living in Nebraska during COVID-19. You can also follow Katy on Instagram.

J.Q.Louise is a travel writer in Boston. In addition to writing for the Boston Herald, Forbes, and has also written for NBCTeen VoguePaste Magazine, and the author of the book Boston Food Crawls (Globe Pequot). Follow her lifestyle blog, as well as Instagram @jqlouise.

Resources & links

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 island spending millions to draw tourists back, the country Thailand is banking on resurrecting their travel industry and the writers working to survive the pandemic by thinking outside the box.

Welcome to the 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 with you those stories are coming up in this episode as we continue to broadcast from home in lockdown in Australia but some positive news to kick off headlines Phil?

Phil: Yes, during this time of uncertainty Australians and Kiwis have chosen Air New Zealand as their most trusted, respected and admired company. Prior to COVID-19, at peak times Air New Zealand operated around 375 flights a week across the Tasman.

And at the time of recording New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the virus was eliminated in the country but lockdown measures will remain in place when it comes to social distancing, but some non-essential business, healthcare and education activity are able to resume.

Italy has outlined plans to ease restrictions as it records its lowest daily death toll since mid-March. Still in Italy and the island of Sicily is offering to pay for half of your plane ticket, as well as a night at a hotel and your attraction entry fees to get tourists back. The Government will use 50 million euros to fund the scheme.

And Thailand Tourism is looking to China to help rebuild the industry when borders open. A China Thailand Travel Sentiment Survey of one thousand respondents found 71 percent said they would like to travel to Thailand when restrictions are lifted.

Kim: Katy is a travel writer and like others has taken a hit thanks to the virus - she has written for Fodor's Travel, Travel Awaits, and numerous other publications and was just about to have her first article published by Lonely Planet - and as we know the iconic publication reduced its publishing operations for the foreseeable future as a result of the pandemic.

Katy: I mean, it's very indicative of everything happening in the industry and obviously bummed, my first two pieces for Lonely Planet have been submitted and not yet published. Personally, it makes me a little nervous, when will they see the light of day and professionally, it makes me just sad because we're all kind of struggling together here and it's understandable. But travel shut down, that's what's safe and what needs to happen. But that doesn't mean it makes it harder for any of our bottom lines, including huge publishers like them.

Kim: Yeah, exactly. So what where you're two stories about? You can share them with us.

Katy: One was about Franklin, Tennessee, which was my first press trip of the year in January. And it's this really lovely little city, about half an hour south of Nashville. And it gets overshadowed quite a bit because fast track capitol Nashville, music city, see so many visitors, but it's this lovely historic little city, just South.

Kim: So the first one was about that. And the second one I think is about, I turned it in a while ago, so forgive me, I believe it was about Prince Murals in Minneapolis, if I'm not mistaken.

Katy: Well, we chatted a lot on the, this series of podcasts about when travel gets back to normal. Domestic travel is probably going to be first that will be up and running and in the US there is so much to see. So, you guys are pretty lucky.

Kim: Yeah, we have obviously 50 States and a lot of stuff to see and I think that what's really going to come out of all of this crisis will be people in the US really exploring their own backyard instead of getting, I mean international trips are lovely they're some of my favorites, but there is so much to see in our huge varied nation and every state is kind of like its own little country and even States right next to each other are totally different.

Katy: So what sort of things do you think content creators will be writing about? Do you still think there's room for us to chat about Scotland for instance, even though we're probably looking at traveling in our own backyard?

Kim: I think that it just depends. A lot of people are using the term armchair travel lately, ways to see the world from your own home. And that includes even visit Australia made zoom backgrounds too to use for calls and museums doing virtual tours and all these ways that you can still experience places when you're in your own home. So I think every destination can do something like that and try and stay top of mind because once this is all over, I really think that travel will roar back because people are really, I mean I have not been home this often, I don't think, in years. So it's going to be really interesting to watch it come back to life and hope every country gets a little bit of tourism coming back quickly for everybody.

Katy: So as a travel writer forced pretty much inside for the last couple of months, what have you been thinking about, in terms of travel?

Katy: Well my, I'm pretty goal-oriented. So one of my 2020 goals was to go to 20 new countries. So, that is clearly not going to be happening. I did hit three, so first I'm really grateful for the trips I was able to take and the beginning of the year I went to Franklin, Tennessee as previously mentioned, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.

Katy: Actually, left France on March 1st, which is the day that the loop closed. So I'm very happy that I was able to squeeze some travel in before shit really hit the fan, pardon my language. Just kind of happy that I also do, I write about other stuff as well. I've always written about food and kind of the intersection with travel. Yeah, that's kind of where I'm at personally.

Kim: So you're able to get out and about to restaurants where you are?

Katy: No, they're only, they've been closed since mid-March for dine-in, which you know is what should be done. But mostly I've been stressed cooking my way through this pandemic, which has been really helpful for my food writing. 'Cause it's, I've never been as creative or consistent in the kitchen. So, you know what to do with this leftover tomato paste, like what to, how to cook with Greek yogurt. Just kind of straight food writing. So that has been my focus of my pivoting.

Kim: And Katy wanted me to point out she submitted two articles to Fodor’s that haven't been published (at the time of recording) and just one article for LonelyPlanet. Links to Katy in show notes.

Phil: Jaqueline is a travel writer in Boston and has written for a stack of publications and like Katy has been affected by Coronavirus.

JQ: Yes, I mean the travel industry is definitely not doing well right now. And for us on the travel writing side, I think we're struggling just as much as all of the hotels and restaurants are. I think the mindset has really shifted for our readers. To us, on the writers side have had to adapt as well. For me, I've really been focusing on, number one, how can you help and be productive, from the actual medical side of things. And then also at home, since we're all working from home, what can you do to stay entertained, to stay productive and just to stay positive rather than writing about the trips that I'm going on, because I'm not going anywhere.

Kim: Well, I have looked at your blog and you're right. You've done a story on working from home. There's also a story there on [inaudible 00:00:55], which is something I'm not familiar with Australia. But you've also written an article on weddings during COVID. So, there seems to be plenty of ideas there that aren't necessarily about some other countries.

JQ: Yes. The big one has actually been wedding planning. Because actually, I got married last fall and we had a destination wedding in Rome, of all places. So, I've been getting a lot of questions from people who are in the middle of planning either destination weddings or weddings at home. And it's been a big struggle for people, because obviously, anyone with weddings this spring and summer, have had to cancel or postpone. And then, people who have dates later in the year are struggling with, should they postpone, should they wait a little bit to see if things will be safe. But it's been really interesting looking at the wedding planning industry from this new lens, where things are so uncertain. But there's a lot that people can do to really get ahead of it, no matter what happens. So, that's been something really interesting for me and for my readers.

Kim: Yeah. Well, destination weddings seem pretty popular. I spoke to a guy who'd been in lockdown in Kyrgyzstan, and he had to cancel his wedding in Istanbul. So, I like the idea of these destination weddings that bring everyone together.

JQ: Yes.

Kim: Rather than having a wedding in your hometown and then going on the honeymoon.

JQ: Yes, exactly. I know. I think that's why they become so popular because more and more people are traveling, more than ever. And I think, having a destination wedding, it brings people together in a new place that may be a lot of people haven't been to before. Or if you have family and friends all over the world, it's a great chance to pick a spot that's maybe a little more convenient for everyone, or just it's a fun place that a lot of people want to visit.

Kim: When we come out of this, and we will, what sort of thinking have you been doing post-COVID?

Kim: I mean, for me, I'm just dying to get back out there. I think, anyone who's an avid traveler, I think we're all just raring to go. But, it'll be interesting to see how the industry does come out of this. I know it will. And it might take a little bit longer than we're all hoping, but I think a few of the big trends will be wellness travel and things that are outside. I know a lot of countries will be easing off of the social distancing in stages. So maybe, once travel is opened back up, I think there will still be some precautions that people will be advised to take. So, that might mean fewer group trips and tours and things like that, where there's a lot of people in one place.

Kim: So, I'm really thinking that wellness and kind of adventure travel will really be a good opportunity for that, where you're more spread out, you're outside, that type of thing.

JQ: And domestic travel, too. And I guess that's where we're lucky in Australia and in the United States. We can have a tropical holiday if we want to, we can climb a mountain, we can go into the desert. There's a sort of every variety of holiday in our own country.

Kim: I know. And in the Boston and New England area, in particular, I know a lot of people are booking trips for even early as June, July and August, for places like Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, which are islands off of the coast here, rather than going somewhere abroad. So, I think, the local economies will have a little bit of a boom, in that sense.

JQ: It sounds like you're remaining super positive and you're still producing content and that's all you can ask for. Exactly. Exactly. Just one day at a time.

Kim: And just like Katy is sharing a different take on her food writing, as you heard Jaqueline is also writing content that’s not just about travel and that was one of the pieces of advice Will Hatton, otherwise known as the Broke Backpacker told us in the last episode, get on Google trends and see what content people are looking for.

Phil: Links to Jaqueline in show notes. To get in touch with us and share your story, which may include how you have turned your income around email

Kim: Plenty of stories still to share with you including Hanna who was just about to relaunch her travel company when COVID-19 hit and turned everything upside down.


The World Nomads Podcast, explore your boundaries.

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