This year was supposed to be a special, dream-fulfilling year for me. I’m 38 years old–the same age my grandmother, Jerrie Mock was, the year she became the first woman to fly around the world.
I’ve followed in her footsteps in some ways, adventuring my way through multiple countries on singing tours, concert tours, hiking and biking and more. 2020 was supposed to be the year of an achievement of her dream. She wanted me to make it to more countries than she did. That means travel; and that means I’ve had to completely re-think my dreams this year.
A Tough Decision
My career path in recent years has led me into traveling the globe and re-telling the exciting and strange experiences I’ve had while doing it. This year, I anticipated traveling to over 20 countries with potential stories for big-name publications I’ve always dreamed about writing for in the queue. Then coronavirus hit.
Then coronavirus hit.
As the numbers of deaths continue to around the world, I watch my dreams crumble. Businesses that closed down for quarantines are now reopening across many states. Friends are planning road trips. The travel industry is hoping things will revive in time for the summer to find fulfillment with millions of travelers enjoying fresh freedom.
As I watch the daily data on diagnosed cases and deaths caused, I have made the painful decision to stay at home.
I know that I will never regain this opportunity–I will only be 38 years old once. The dream of visiting grandma’s favorite travel spots at the same age she was won’t return. The book I had planned to write about the experience can’t be written. But the virus is real and traveling won’t make it decline.
Why I Decided To Put A Hold On My Travel Plans
As stay-at-home orders have dragged on, the numbers for coronavirus have only climbed. Certainly, small dips here and there have happened, and some countries have even seen the virus nearly eradicated. The reason, however, those numbers have declined is that the borders have been closed, people have not been traveling unnecessarily, and they’ve followed the social distancing guidelines, worn masks, and avoided large gatherings.
America has not done this. Our numbers are still climbing. States that once had lower numbers have opened their beaches, welcomed visitors from other states, gathered for church services, and held other large gatherings. Those states are now quickly becoming the new epicenters of the virus.
My husband and I have already had the virus. We don’t want it again. We also don’t want to give the virus to anyone else if we’re somehow asymptomatic carriers. The strains have mutated. We don’t want to be anywhere near it.
There’s still so much that we don’t know about the virus, which means we don’t know what will happen next. Experts, however, do have one strong expectation: spikes will occur, thousands more – millions if we’re not careful – will die.
Looking at the history of pandemics that our nation has gone through also makes this clear. We should be learning from our past, not repeating the same mistakes. This virus has already killed more people than World War I.
With all of that possible, despite my hopes and dreams for adventures and amazing photos, I’m not going anywhere this summer. It sucks. I’m upset about it. But I’m staying put anyway.
If You’ve Got Travel Plans, You Should Seriously Rethink Them
I have a few friends who have happily shared their travel plans for the summer with me. They’re excitedly telling me all the places they’ll visit, the parks they’ll explore, the people they’ll reconnect with. As I listen, I cringe.
“But they have fewer cases than Illinois,” one friend said as she mentioned her plans to visit family and explore some museums in a city she’s never been to.
The reality is, though, that they don’t have as many cases because their borders were closed. When people from infected areas travel to unaffected areas, the numbers rise in those areas.
Being stuck at home really, really sucks. I get it. Bringing the virus as an asymptomatic carrier to an unaffected area sucks way more. When you travel somewhere, you’re putting the people of that locale at risk.
Not traveling is like wearing a mask. Scientists have proven that masks don’t prevent you from getting the infection. They help to keep you from spreading it. Avoiding unnecessary travel works in the same way. You don’t skip travel to protect yourself only. You avoid travel to protect others.
What To Do Instead This Summer
Instead of traveling while there is a pandemic, I’m finding other creatives ways to honor this unique time in my life. I’m digging through the history of my grandmother’s accomplishments by scanning and photographing her old slides, writing stories about her for publications and pitching books to publishers.
I’m also taking some virtual vacations and studying up on the places I’d planned to go this year; learning as much as I can about their cultures, the histories, and connecting with people from those countries online.
It’s absolutely not the same and it’s definitely not as exciting, but I’m not exposing anyone or becoming exposed to the virus this way.