2020, it started out like any other year. The skies were filled with airplanes, airports were bustling, cruise ships were sailing, and the tourism industry was thriving. That is until what seems like, in a blink of the eye, the world pressed pause. In just a few short weeks, borders were closed, airports became ghost towns, stay-at-home orders were implemented, and shops and restaurants shuttered their doors. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the largest sporting event in the world, were mere months away and had to be postponed until 2021. Many employees were forced to begin working from home and sadly, many were laid off. Life as we knew it had come to a screeching halt.
Like others from all around the world, this pause on travel, and life in general, changed how my 2020 would look. Four trips had already been planned and booked for this year, but as the situation continued to develop I saw the trips becoming less of a reality. In mid-March, my inbox began to fill up with the dreaded cancellation emails. The first cancellation was my trip to Egypt which was just a few days away. A few days later, the next set of emails arrived and my trip to South Africa and eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) was nixed. I was super excited for this trip and to get back to southern Africa. I had items on my bucket list I was going to cross off and I was also meeting up with friends from the Peace Corps in eSwatini for Bushfire Festival. In hindsight, it all worked out because soon after, all Peace Corps volunteers globally were unfortunately evacuated back to the US. Once again, a few days later I received confirmation that my other two trips that were planned were canceled. The final two trips were volunteering events. In August I was going to be at a World Rowing event in Bled, Slovenia, and in September I was going back to Linz-Ottensheim, Austria for another World Rowing event.
It will be interesting to see how this year has an effect not only on travel in the near future but also its long-term affect. While no one knows exactly how the industry and travel will be affected, many believe it will be drastically and permanently changed in the future. Hopefully, the changes are positive and we can take this brief pause to enjoy the simplicity and our current surroundings.
With travel out of the question currently, I have been keeping busy with classes. This semester is completely online which has its pros and cons. Stay-at-home and social distancing measures have begun to relax here in Germany which is nice. It's nice to occasionally get outside and enjoy the sunshine (aside from my allergies). In the coming weeks and months, hopefully, things continue to allow us to return to a more "normal" way of life and eventually travel around freely again. Until then, stay safe and healthy!