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A Look at A Reasonable Time to Go Abroad

That is the lifelong question that I, and some of you, have been wondering. Rather than re-hash the past failed attempts, I want to actually look ahead at the most reasonable time that I could realistically board a plane and fly away.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

For many people looking to go abroad, this has been a tough time to do so. Some have the luxury of doing it despite the limited flights between countries, however the experience is not the same as before. As some parts of the world are opening up, countries are still trying to figure out how to proceed not just with it’s own citizens but tourists as well. Bloggers, vloggers, influencers and more are eager to visit abroad, as it ties into not only their passion but their livelihood as well.

Some have made their careers out of traveling, while others (like me) are trying to dive more into it. However, with recent news coming out of countries (Europe in particular) reestablishing quarantines to try and bring the COVID-19 numbers down, any hopes of traveling this Winter season has been severely waned. Before the latest announcements of stay-at-home orders, I was actually trying to work on a Christmas miracle and attempt a small trip abroad to Europe. Finances would have been handled by then for it, and I had the days picked out as well.

Therein lies the other factor playing into when I will travel, which is what recently happened in my life: my new job. While having a source of income is great, of course, it also impacts free time and holidays. No longer can I go to the lake during the weekday afternoons, or do Friday day trips anywhere. It also means I’ll be working during the weekdays to try and earn days to use for vacations. Y’all already know how I feel about the societal construct we created around working for the majority of the year to only be rewarded a few days to do what we want. It means very few people will ever get the chance to truly explore the world!

Anyway, so now that I have this job, I must now wait till I have enough days saved up to be able to use it for vacations. The issue with that? I’m on probation at the moment. In the U.S., it’s common for new employees to be under probation for the first 3-6 months, which means certain things (i.e. vacation hours) are locked until I am no longer under probation. The good thing is that the hours don’t start once probation ends, as they’ve begun since my first day. So when I finish, I’ll have a bit saved up that will unlock after 6 months.

But Steven, didn’t you talk about a Christmas miracle? While some countries are back under quarantine, the uncertainty of when that will end is another question I have considered. The thing with my job is that holidays are different that what I’m used to with other jobs. Certain days I used to have off, I won’t have here and so I had to make note of that. Christmas is about a week and a half holiday break for me this year but, while I was getting excited about the possibility of seeing an international Christmas and New Year’s, I mentioned something earlier that I did not think about. That being how countries will be treating tourists trying to enter.

My brother-in-law took a flight out to his home country not long ago, and spoke to my sister about having to stay in quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. So, it made me think about protocols for Americans going to other countries. Below are several examples of what Americans might expect when going to certain countries during COVID-19 (according to U.S. Embassy sites):

Keep in mind, this is before the latest orders of quarantine in some countries, so these may have changed. But, generally speaking, it varies per country as some say no quarantine for visitors or that there will be a 2-week isolation if the country suspects you. What do they mean by suspicion? I have no idea, but chances are that I’d qualify; again in light of recent news of tighter restrictions. So if I did fly out for a two week Christmas vacation, there’s a good chance that I’ll be spending it in isolation at a hotel by the airport. Can you imagine how crushed I would be? Again, coming so close and being so far from the goal. Even if I did fly out, and wasn’t put in quarantine, it wouldn’t be a fun time being abroad.

You may have noticed that I have an Instagram account now, that I use to try and raise awareness for my blog. It’s also provided me a way to follow other travel bloggers and influencers to see what they’ve been doing. They, too, have had a tough time generating much content. Either they use old photos, showcase their hometown/state, or just don’t post much at all at the moment. The ones that do road trip around their city, I noticed it’s mostly outdoor places. It’s hardly areas like restaurants, coffee shops, concerts and more fun activities within the city. While it provides that quiet, nature scene that I do enjoy, there’s that feel of life missing from it.

Imagine going to a place you’ve always wanted to go to, knowing you’d be part of the community in various ways. Whether it’s partaking in a cultural event/festival, eating and making new friends at a small restaurant, buying a memento of your trip, seeing international friends, etc.. Now look at the reality right now: events cancelled/postponed, restaurants and bars either closed or limiting capacity/only doing curbside offers, stores closed/limited or only online ordering, friends hesitant to go out from fear of the virus, and more. Any ideas of being active in the community and culture have all been put on hold. Even the little things like seeing a local person smile at you, shaking hands, high-fiving, or (in certain countries) kissing as a way to greet/say goodbye are discouraged and most people are wearing masks. So not only are the “things to do” impacted by this virus, but so is the ability to truly interact with locals when traveling.

Earliest Departure Will Be On. . .

So while some people may want to, or are, traveling right now it just doesn’t seem logical for me to even think about it anytime soon. Job aside, just the thought of not getting the full experience of another country is a waste of time and money to me. Again, I’d love the outdoor scenery, such as the seas and landmarks, but a quiet, physically-distanced adventure does not sound like so much fun. Now this is for other countries, as here in the U.S., we’re still free to go out and explore. That could change, however, if what is going on in Europe spreads to over here. Then that can, once again, alter my plans of traveling.

But let’s assume things don’t get worse here, and other countries lift those restrictions, as life improves. There still won’t be any Christmas miracles, mainly due to the risk of being in isolation my entire vacation as countries are still hesitant to return to normalcy. So that means I won’t have an opportunity to fly until my probation period ends, which will be until March. Assuming things go well with this job, my vacation days will be unlocked at the end of that month. I’m hoping that by the time March rolls around, things will be somewhat dramatically different by then. No more masks, being able to shake hands or hug other people, going out to bars/restaurants, attending events and more. It’s a big hope, however I have to remain optimistic about this.

So March ends, I have my vacation days and money ready, now is the time to pick the dates. Again, this lies in timing things just right with my job. In terms of holidays, there are two single-day holidays after March that I can pair it with. Along with the weekends, I could turn it into slightly over two weeks of being abroad. It may not sound like a lot, but it’s been a long time coming and I’ll definitely make the most of it. As for the two holidays, they occur post-March lie in the following months. So the answer to the infamous question, “When will I actually travel?”, is that the earliest time I am aiming to board a plane and go abroad is either at the end of April or the end of May.

I will pray that the travel gods don’t curse me once again, because my long-time readers know about my bad luck at attempting to journey abroad. In terms of where I will go, it’s still up in the air, but Europe appears to be the leading contender. Yes, it’s been a dream of mine since I was a teenager to go to (maybe live in) Spain, and I could easily choose that now as my first destination. However, I know I should wait to see how countries over there are doing in a couple of months before making a commitment. Not to mention Spain’s neighboring countries – Italy, Greece, and Portugal – are also at the top of my list. We shall see, and we’ll also see if I go alone or not. Could it be just me or will a friend (or two) want to tag along? There’s pros and cons to each, and that is another thing to consider in the coming months. But now you know my plan, and let’s see if it comes to fruition. This doesn’t take into account unexpected factors like: family emergencies, potential job loss, virus threats and more. I’m sure there will be a curveball, or two, coming my way in the future that could impact this plan. However, we’ll just roll with it because no matter what (barring a 2020 repeat or worse) next year will definitely be the year I finally get to see the world. . .

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