Full Time Travel

COVID-19 and a Full-Time Travel Family: How Coronavirus is Changing Our Plans

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What a whirlwind, huh? This crazy virus is literally changing the world overnight. We are waking each morning to find more and more closures, border closures and crazy pictures from back home of empty store shelves and grocery store pandemonium.

Meantime, things are pretty calm here in New Zealand. We made it to the store yesterday to “stock up”, but all if normal. There is plenty of toilet paper. No one is panicking. We can find all we need.

Just two days ago, we went to a Thursday night market in Rotorua with friends, something that is now banned in the US.

It’s difficult to reconcile the reports and panic from back in the US and Europe to what we have before us.

Bottom line: we feel blessed to be here in New Zealand.

New Zealand now has eight confirmed cases on coronavirus (as of tonight) and today said all visitors will have to do 14 days of isolation. Honestly, it feels like we are in the safest place in the world!

Our Concerns

We are a bit worried about future plans. We are wanting to glance into the crystal ball and see how long these travel bans are going to be in place. It’s really impossible to tell.

In the meantime, we are watching tourism fall through the floor everywhere. Our hearts ache for companies and jobs that survive on tourism. Most of the tourism here in New Zealand is comprised of Asian tourists. Even a few weeks ago we were hearing from locals about how their numbers are dropping drastically. We know this will send many small businesses into severe financial trouble and even out of business altogether.

Where Do We Go? What Do We Do?

For now, we are just going to stay put. There is no mass outbreak here, so we will continue to use good health practices, monitor any symptoms in our family and continue with light sightseeing. This part of our NZ travels has us in a slow period anyway. We are in a very small community and planned to take this time to regroup and sightsee a bit less after all our fun on the South Island. It’s an easy time for us to stay at home more. With lots of local hikes and scenic walks, we have all the outlets we need while still keeping isolated.

We have about five weeks left in our planned NZ stay. We plan to file this week for another 90-day extension in NZ in case we want to stay put even longer.

Our current plans take us to Australia in late April, Tahiti in June and then to South America. If lockdowns are still in place, we plan to stay in New Zealand longer until we can go to Australia and probably lose the South America portion of our plans. A big bummer, but we were going in the dead of winter, so perhaps it isn’t the best time anyway.

Why Not Go Back Home?

It is a tempting question when considering our future. We’ve chosen not to return to the US for a few reasons:

  • We don’t have a home to return to! The best option would be to move in with parents or find an Airbnb near them. If we have to pay for an Airbnb in either place, we should stay in the one we’ve already paid for.
  • Both sets of parents would welcome us, but honestly, it’s WAY more chaotic back in the US than here in NZ. And exposure is way more likely there. While we are not too concerned about the virus ourselves, we do know it’s important to slow the spread. It’s tempting to let the virus run its course, but once we understood the impact on the healthcare system and how Italy has had to ration life-saving techniques (similar to wartime), it’s clear why drastic measures are much needed.

For a great read on “Flattening the Curve”, read here. It’s my favorite explanation so far.

Can we all acknowledge the incredible blessing it is that this virus does not seem to affect children much more than a common cold?! Panic and chaos would go up exponentially if this virus followed the normal pattern of the young and the old.

  • Our remote business runs just as well from here as it does back there. In fact, Chris has no pressure to meet in person when we are thousands of miles away.
  • We also have no temptation to gather with friends and family and share any illness while we are alone here in NZ. I know I have a list a mile-long of those I would love to spend time with and it would kill me to have to self-isolate instead.

How is Our Business? Will It Be Affected?

Yes, it will. Chris has many consulting clients that have been struggling to get their product from China already. With current shutdowns escalating, two clients already have had to cancel. They basically have to shut down until they can get more product. We are a small cog in their massive stress and my heart is heavy for the decisions they have to make.

At the same time, for now, interest is still high for Chris’s services. Two medical companies wish to begin. If anything, eCommerce will likely boom during self-isolation. As Chris puts it, “there are always companies that want to sell more online.” We’ve always counted our blessings that his trade is not industry-specific and can cross into many different industries at once.

Are We Worried?

We feel at peace. We know that the world will rebound from this turbulence. There may be economic consequences that are heavy to bear, but the world will survive. We hope the virus spreads slowly and the healthcare system can treat those who need it most. We see God’s hand in our lives guiding us to stay for the maximum time in New Zealand. We have SO many places we want to visit and debated so many locations for this time period. When we both felt New Zealand was the answer, we bought the tickets and went for it. We literally flew from the farthest point across the world: Paris! It didn’t make any sense, logically.

This is how our travels work. We get ideas, we have wish lists, we do some research. We wait and see what feels right. I have tried to describe it before and think of it like an air pocket traveling up through thick, viscous honey. We can sense the change, feel it coming, but it moves slowly. It works its way up until we can see it clearly at the top and book that travel. Then we wait for the next air pocket to surface.

It can be frustrating when I want to have everything planned on paper. Or when I have family members and friends wanting to visit and I can’t quite say where we will be! But we continue to trust, to wait, to book when and where we feel is right. We forgo places we want to see for the places that feel best.

Our Advice

This is not the first time we’ve seen the blessings of this process and I find it a constant reminder of God’s awareness of us and of YOU. God knows your needs and what you are going through. Take comfort and courage in this. Join us in prayer and express any fears to Him. Stay up-to-date with changes, but keep overall media exposure to a minimum. The media always plays on fears and what is sensational. Be smart, stay safe and keep a clear head without the voice of the media dominating your thoughts.

Even if the world collapses, we are all infected and chaos reigns, we can have peace in our hearts. Our homes can be sanctuaries of love and peace. Keep those you love close (that won’t be hard with schools and offices closed!) and soak up the time together.

In the meantime, we can’t wait to hear how it goes for our friends and family to homeschool! I’m excited about the reports and hope everyone doesn’t go crazy with kids underfoot all day. Believe me, I feel you! Perhaps you also might be working remotely for the first time. Enjoy!

China Tour May 2019

Stay safe,

Leslie

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