COVID-19: Landsailor’s Update and Online Activities List
To all of our followers and other folks looking for solidarity, we made the difficult decision to pause our current journey and would like to share our experience with you.
If you’re just interested in our list of free access items, click here.
Before we begin, we strongly advise anyone abroad for leisure travel to return home as soon as possible. Even if you’re in an area that is not as highly affected, it will be much safer to reside where you have citizen’s or PR rights as it is only a matter of time before the virus spreads. Benefit plans are being distributed to affected citizens all over the world from governments during the crisis period which are normally only available if you’re in the country. Increased border closing measures are happening every day as well. Main point: don’t get stuck somewhere if you have the option to return home safely!
Our last trip was to Spain and Portugal. The beginning of our trip appeared normal. Spain had 84 COVID-19 cases as of March 1st and people didn’t seem too worried. Bars were full inside and out, Spanish festivals like the Las Fallas and Festival de Jerez drew tourists and locals together in close quarters without a second thought. Most hostels we stayed in were full as well as public squares and parks. Spain offered it’s iconic fiery nightlife for approximately 5 days into our road trip. On the 6th day the number of recorded cases spiked to just over 400 and we noticed the crowds starting to thin. When we reached Lisbon on the 8th, the presence around the Praça do Comércio made it apparent to us that people were starting to panic. By March 10th Spain had over 1600 recorded cases and when we reached Madrid the next day the number had spiked to over 2200. Each day after that the numbers grew in the thousands and when we left Madrid on the 12th the military already started setting up border patrol and blockades. We didn’t know they were blockades in construction at the time and everything was still uncertain. We kept travelling as planned and found ourselves on Ibiza. The island known for fantastic parties and a bumping atmosphere didn’t have a single club open. The bars and restaurants were closed or had limited service. Every event was cancelled that weekend and the beaches entertained more neighbourhood cats than people.
We started to watch the news very closely. Getting stuck in Spain for an unknown amount of time was not in our itinerary. Getting stuck anywhere was not ideal but in a location where you don’t speak the language poses many challenges if you need any sort of advanced assistance (medical, financial, repatriation).
The number of cases began to grow exponentially and by the 14th the Spanish government, facing almost 8000 cases on a steady climb, made the call to close the borders on the 16th. We had to get off the island and get back to Germany. Multiple flights out of Ibiza to Barcelona had been cancelled and the next flight out to the nearest country, Belgium, costed a whopping €500. We were able to get on a delayed flight at 1am on the 15th and leave Barcelona on a 6:30am flight back to Hamburg the same day. Hannah was so stressed out the bottom half of her face broke. The extra expenses of booking emergency flights was enough to crush future travel plans; staying weeks in hostels without working would have drained everything we had.
We were lucky and blessed to make it back to our host families who were also quite frazzled by the events in Europe. To put it in perspective, we left Germany on the 29th of February with 48 cases of the virus to think about but when we arrived on the 15th nearly 6000 cases had caused all the schools to close, sporting teams and organizations to cease activities, and a number of businesses, events, and extracurricular activities to be cancelled entirely. The reasons for our journey, playing hockey and teaching english abroad, no longer existed. Within 3 days of us returning, the German government ordered all sporting facilities and organizations to cease activities under law until April 30th. Our host families were torn. They wanted us to stay but we were all required to stay inside indefinitely. Then came the final bit that made our decision easier: our insurance company dropped an email…
“Unfortunately there is no coverage for any travel impacted by COVID-19 as the policy is not designed to cover expenses which are directly or indirectly caused by known epidemics under the control of public authorities.”
And, we’re out.
Without any coverage from the German government and our insurance company jumping ship, we decided to book the next best flight home. Not only that, but Hannah’s PR card was set to expire this year and if we became stuck abroad and she as unable to renew it who knows how long her re-entry into the country would be.
It was hard to leave so abruptly especially for the families we had been living with for seven months. There is a certain feeling you get when you know when you’re going to leave and can prepare yourself emotionally. It’s like a hardening process, checking everything off the ‘before I leave’ list, and making sure you don’t depart with any loose ends. In our minds we had over three months to go through the motions of leaving but in a matter of days that all changed.
The unexpected cost of booking a quick flight to Canada during a pandemic was definitely something we hadn’t penciled into our travel budget and I think many of you have felt similar financial stresses. It’s also not always easy as an adult to move in with your parents again after living independently for so long ESPECIALLY when you cannot contribute much for the time being.
That being said, this time in quarantine has given us an unanticipated opportunity to reflect on our journeys and on life itself. While this situation is heartbreaking and cannot be undermined by people affected by the loss and terror caused by COVID-19, there are positives that will come out of this. Everyone can see the immediate positive impact on the environment from our slowed consumption of fuel. The measures taken by many governments to look after citizens have given many folks solid evidence and reassurance that certain socialist measures are in the best interest of the general population not just in a state of emergency, but overall to strengthen the working and middle classes. The general population is at an all-time high for education and literacy which means citizen driven political changes have the potential to be succinct, fierce, and more fact driven than ever before. The future of global vaccination and health checks upon entry into countries may increase overall global herd immunity and boost vaccination availability for everyone.
We were given the opportunity of a lifetime and refuse to shine any personal negativity on the situation. We urge everyone to flip their negatives into positives if they can at this time as it is the best way to move forward together. Instead of dwelling on the inconveniences, the terrible situations, and the future’s uncertainty, we have adopted a more positive thought process as to what we’ve achieved in the last year. We continue to practice gratefulness and empathy. We appreciate the opportunities we’ve had, our health, and our time travelling instead of focussing on what could have been, financial hardships, and general loss. We know it’s not possible in every situation and everyone has a different COVID-19 experience, but as far as we’re concerned the travel community will be given opportunities in the future and this is not a permanent measure.
This is not goodbye, fellow sailors. This is an opportunity to reflect on our lives. It can be reflection of how we can improve ourselves, our surroundings, and our relationships. It has given us time to think about our sustainability, our impact on communities and others, our career paths moving forward, and our ability to manage emotional and physical damage.
Stay home, practice social distancing, follow medical practitioner guidelines, and stay safe! Get online and find all the newly available activities (we will put a list and links below) — most are free!
Thank you for sticking with us! We will continue to post new content as we’ve been lacking in the past few months due to our busy schedules. We are out of excuses now, though! 😜
Keep strong, sailors 💪
Free Activities List During COVID-19
- Top 10 Virtual Museum Tours (rated by Tech Radar)
2. NASA’s newly free content and earth updates via satellite!
3.Universities, journals and other academic institutions opening their Libraries
note: some may require you to have a student ID and others do not
5. COVID-19 articles for free accessed through Wiley
7. Play some free games and demos through Ubisoft– limited time
8. Micky Media’s list of free online games to play during COVID-19
Side note: Worried about cashflow? Check out your local grocery stores, retailers, shelters, and other essential services if you aren’t able to claim benefits or want to assist in the pandemic. With restrictions getting tighter, it will also be a key way to leave the house without landing a heavy fine or JAIL TIME in some countries. Online companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are also hiring and/or paying folks to test products, websites, and take surveys.
9. Nikon Free Photography classes! Until April 30th all Nikon camera classes are free through their website 😀
Also, check out the Verge’s comprehensive dive into tech company contribution during COVID-19 if you’re bored!