Travelling today seems to be simultaneously fast and slow due to COVID-19 requiring rapid change of plans and jumping on planes with 24 hours notice while I still can and spending much longer away from home in any one stretch than I usually would pre-COVID.
My uncle and cousin were teasing me yesterday, saying my 12 year marriage is effectively counted in dog years, and would be probably only be the equivalent of 5 years with any normal couple if you count the time actually spent together. I came home that afternoon and worked out I’ve not spent more than 6 consecutive weeks at home since June 2019. Sorry babe!
June 2019 marked the lift of my non-compete from my old job so I could actively look for new clients for my business. I travelled for business meets and as a result my nascent business took off much quicker than I thought.
I subsequently spent a lot of time effectively commuting from Spain to London (big thanks to Simon for graciously letting me be part time roomie for six months before I had enough cash flow to pay for London hotels) and heading to Slovenia or NY quarterly. I also travelled to other new spots for work Armenia, Trinidad and Portland, Oregon being some of the highlights.
In 2018, my last year working in an actual job, I took over 50 flights which wasn’t exactly unusual (80%+ for work) and so I likely wasn’t home for more than six weeks at a time either way before COVID.
The difference is now travelling is slow, and is likely to be so for the foreseeable. Living in Spain, it is still possibly for me to travel for work and leisure (leisure travel is currently illegal in the UK probably until Autumn!) but with quarantines, tests and travel restrictions every trip is that bit longer. That means way more time away from home than I’d like.
While I used to travel a lot, I took the ability to be able to hop back home, recharge and chill with my husband for granted. Now there’s no more three day trips, each trip is a minimum of 3 weeks and quite possibly can end up being 3 months. But I’m thankful I have the freedom to still make them. I was miserable in lockdown London.
I’m happy here in Antigua being with my fam, it’s where I want and need to be and quarantine wasn’t so hard this time, I was prepared. But it’s proving impossible to foresee how to continue travelling for work without getting stuck or it taking forever!
I’ll likely head back home in a few months via the US. Direct flights from Europe are still banned into the US so it would be silly not to try and do a couple of work meets while I’m on this side of the Atlantic. Depending on quarantine entry requirements and business needs I will try and do NY, Dallas, Miami and then home to Madrid.
I have a potentially very exciting project on the cards which may need me to be in multiple places over the next 3 years to execute, first up will probably be the UK and then stateside and possibly the Middle East.
Getting into the UK is easy, getting out will be hard. I have little confidence the leisure travel bans will be lifted before autumn. While my reason for being there would be to work. My reason to get out is to go home to Spain. During the November lockdown frustratingly that wasn’t an acceptable reason to fly.
My only secure route home for Christmas was the long way – out for a business trip to New York but via Mexico to ensure I could enter the country. That’s looking like it could be the route I need again but jeez that’s a long way home. Fun but long.
So travel is slow and every work trip needs to be worth the three weeks it takes to make it.
But paradoxically travelling is also super fast. With so much changing daily, it’s impossible to book anything in advance. I usually have a rough idea of where I want to get to and possible routes but by the time I’ve decided to get there I need to act quickly while that route is still open and generally move within 24 hours.
Travelling this way is not without it stresses and really isn’t for everyone.
I think most of us went into this year hoping it would be different and easier. But the truth seems to be travel is even harder than before and with far fewer options.
But for the determined traveller – depending on where you live, it is still possible. It’s just not quick or easy.