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.
00:30 Hotels have taken a hit
01:32 Getting fancy with hand sanitizer
03:08 Slow travel
05:53 Love interrupted
08:00 Isolating with a friend
09:19 Get in touch
“…because we live such an unusual lifestyle where we were both working remotely, living as house sitters, and we're on the road all the time so it was basically what everyone's going through right now where you're with your partner 24/7” - Amy
Amy Hornsby is a content and travel writer who, up until recently, was living as an international housesitter with her partner Jordan. Amy and Jordan met in South Korea in 2013 where they were living and teaching. They spent three years living in Krakow, Poland, where Amy spent a year as the Krakow Local for Lonely Planet, before leaving to start their housesitting adventure. Over the last 15 months, they have been slow traveling across Europe and North America, taking care of dozens of pets and exploring some incredible places. You can find Amy's work on her website and photos of their travel adventures on Instagram and Twitter.
Tips for virtual travel from the 'Agoraphobic Traveller'.
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Kim Napier: In this episode an agoraphobic woman inspiring virtual travel, a couple forced into a long-distance relationship, and a sight for sore eyes in India.
Announcer: 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 Napier: Hi it's Kim and Phil with you sharing Amy's story of love interrupted, and the latest headlines around travel and COVID-19. Phil, kick it off.
Phil Sylvester: Look, we know the hotel industry has taken a massive hit with figures just really showing nearly 80% of hotels in the US are empty. But we did hear in a podcast, one of the episodes earlier this week Kim when travel resumes hotels are expected to bounce back quickly with business travel kicking off first. The other thing is, well if I've got this right he was saying that hotels would probably kick off first because people are worried about cleanliness so they're going to avoid Airbnbs for awhile.
Kim Napier: Yeah, [Zoran 00:01:02] from Croatia was-
Phil Sylvester: Yes.
Kim Napier: ... predicting that.
Phil Sylvester: All right. In Madagascar local officials have announced stranded travelers will be allowed to their cities of origin via the national bush taxi service, you know those buses packed with people and produce that go from one city to the other? What could possibly go wrong there?
Kim Napier: That's better than nothing.
Phil Sylvester: Okay, okay. Look, commercial hand sanitizers are running dry in the US and Europe but people in Turkey are turning to their traditional fragrance cologne. I suppose that's where the word cologne comes from?
Kim Napier: Yes, it is. Correct.
Phil Sylvester: Oh there you go.
Kim Napier: Well done.
Phil Sylvester: It's sprinkled on guests' hands as they enter homes and hotels, and after you finish meals, et cetera. But it's ethanol-based and with really high alcohol content, it kills more than 80% of germs, and probably comes in handy if you're in isolation and can't get to the shop.
Kim Napier: I love that kind of thinking Phil. Just on sanitation, a chat next week about the importance of handwashing with a guy who founded a company that recycles hotel soap to distribute to poor communities.
Kim Napier: What else have you got?
Phil Sylvester: A sight for sore eyes in India, as we mentioned at the top of the show. Because of the lockdown, there's been a dramatic drop in air pollution and for the first time in 30 years villages, and towns in India, which are up to about 200 kilometers away from the Himalayas, can see the mountains.
Kim Napier: Wow.
Phil Sylvester: It's fantastic. There are kids there, well adults, who've never seen them. They're like going, "Oh right, didn't realize they were that close and so fantastic."
Kim Napier: That's amazing and in just a short time seeing-
Phil Sylvester: I know. Yeah.
Kim Napier: ... the planet recover like that. It's incredible-
Phil Sylvester: Another one that we'll share in show notes, from CNN, it's about Jacqui Kenny who has agoraphobia, which makes going outside, let alone traveling, extremely tough. But she has an Instagram account The Agoraphobic Traveler and she's uploading her experiences traveling the world from her own home thanks to Google Street View. Great idea.
Kim Napier: Love it. There's some armchair inspo for you.
Kim Napier: Now Amy and her partner of six years, thank you, by the way, are using WhatsApp to keep in touch after they were forced apart when the pandemic hit and are now in different countries.
Amy: So we were living as housesitters, international housesitters, which is when we look after people's houses and pets for when they go away on holiday. So we use this as a way of slow traveling, which we really love. We started in England and we were in France, then Switzerland, Ireland, the US, and then Canada. When it started we were in Quebec city and it was hitting the news. My partner followed it quite closely, so I was aware of everything that was going on. I think I've since found out that Quebec is quite badly hit at the moment. We left there at the beginning of March onto a house sit in Toronto. We were in a suburb of Toronto and that's when things really started amping up.
Amy: We were there for about 10 days. The Canadian government was urging citizens to return back home, not to travel overseas. Then the inevitable happened. The homeowners told us that they were coming back, per this guidance. So this was ... I've written down a timeline because it's so crazy, a lot happened. This was Saturday the 14th of March we got this information from the homeowners. We had two more house sits after that. Our next one got canceled as well. At this point, we're thinking, "Right, neither of us lives in Canada. The border might very well close and flights might get stopped. We might, essentially, be stuck in a country that we don't live in with nowhere to stay."
Amy: Within 24 hours we made the very fast but very difficult decision to leave, but to both go to our respective countries. We're not married. We had just been in the US. I get 90 days there. I think I had been there for 86 of those 90 days and going to Canada doesn't count as leaving properly, so I couldn't ... I was pretty sure if I tried to get back in they wouldn't let me with four days left. We also decided, because I have healthcare here, he has healthcare there, we just thought, "Right, we've got to split up. This has got to be it."
Amy: So I booked a flight. My flight was Tuesday night. He booked land travel because we'd seen pictures of airports in the US, Chicago airport and we just thought, "No, it's absolutely crazy." Luckily he's from Upstate New York, so he got land travel for Wednesday morning from Toronto to Buffalo. Then his parents were picking him up from Buffalo to Albany. So I fly Tuesday night. We part ways, we say goodbye, not knowing how long we're going to be saying goodbye for when we're going to see each other again. Then I land Wednesday morning on the 18th in Gatwick and I stayed with my brother.
Amy: Meanwhile, Jordan's bus is Wednesday morning from Toronto to Buffalo. I'm keeping in contact with him, texting him saying, "What's going on?" Meanwhile, we're following the news, me, and my brother, and sister-in-law. I think there was an announcement on Wednesday the 18th saying that the border's going to close between the US and Canada. I'm thinking, "Oh my God, he's on his way, what's going to happen?" Then an hour later my brother went, "Oh it's closed." I'm texting him and saying, "What's happening? Where are you? Have you got across?" He had, he'd made it across. Very, very dramatic. I'm sure he would have made it anyway because he's a US citizen but it just felt like it was surreal. It was so surreal.
Amy: He said that it was like ghost towns. He was just going through ghost towns. There were about six people on the bus with him. There was just no one traveling through. He got to Buffalo, stayed overnight Wednesday night. Then Thursday night his parents, bless them, drove I think four or five hours from Albany to Buffalo to pick him up, take him back home to avoid more public transport and potential contamination.
Amy: Yeah, it's difficult. Yeah, he made it. They made it. But then I was ... So I was in London. Then I'd heard rumors about potential lockdown in England or, I think, just London were the rumors. That London was going to go into lockdown. I don't live in London. I'm from the northeast so I thought, "Right, I better get back home." I was going to go and stay with my parents but my parents are both over 70 and I just thought that it would be really irresponsible of me to travel this amount, and then just go and stay with them. God knows how many people I've been in contact with. Currently, I am isolating with my friend who lives right around the corner and was nice enough to take me in. Jordan's with his parents. That's where we are.
Amy: At the moment, because we live such an unusual lifestyle where we were both working remotely, living as housesitters, and we're on the road all the time so it was basically what everyone's going through right now where you're with your partner 24/7. That's what we were doing for about 15 months. Kind of nice to have a little time apart, but I'm sure in about a month's time it's going to be what's going to happen? What are we going to do?
Kim Napier: She loves you Jordan. So tough. Of course, that whole housesitting community has been affected too.
Phil Sylvester: Yeah. There's somebody at World Nomads' Headquarters in Sydney who has been living in housesitting accommodation for years. She's looking for somewhere to stay right now.
Phil Sylvester: Anyway, look a bit of news on the podcast itself. From next week we won't be going daily anymore but we will be doing two podcasts a week and still listening to your stories about living in isolation. But also concentrating on the future of travel as coronavirus, hopefully, begins to leave. So look forward to those new episodes Kim.
Kim Napier: Yeah. They'll be a little longer too. So if you have a story to share email email@example.com. Stay safe. Bye.
Phil Sylvester: Bye.
Announcer: The World Nomads podcast. Explore your boundaries.