I don’t really feel like I can continue posting as normal without addressing the Coronavirus situation in some way. It wouldn’t be right to the huge amounts of people affected by it, including those who have it, have lost loved ones because of it, are seeing real issues arise for their businesses because of it, and who potentially will have long term damage because of it. This post is just some of my thoughts on the situation and what’s happening around me.
Before getting in to some of the situations I just want to make it clear that not being able to go on trips, and the weekly football matches being cancelled, and not being able to buy toilet roll obviously don’t come close to having to deal with losing loved ones as so many have had to do. But these things do have potentially big consequences for people, their livelihood and their way of life.
This is just my ramblings really, with no real aim other than it didn’t feel right to continue blogging about travel to places, or to go out and about to restaurants and bars without acknowledging what’s happening. That would probably be quite irresponsible, so that’s all this is along with my reasons on why you will still see content from me.
For me personally, my perspective is coloured by a few things, firstly I work for a European travel company as my full time job, where the impacts have obviously been huge. And secondly, my dad is a doctor for the NHS. My opinion on this situation is naturally taken from all these factors, information I’m getting from authorities through the travel industry, information from Nige on what the NHS are seeing, and the stories we are all hearing every day from different people.
Every one of us will have our own unique perspectives and I think it’s important as much as possible to find the sources of info and stability that work for us. We’re not getting that from the news, there is so much content out there, that sometimes it’s better to just pick your sources and stick to them to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
I think we also all need to calm down in our reactions to memes. Humour and light hearted jokes aren’t the problem here, and many find these a silver lining in feeds dominated by negativity. I certainly do. Here’s one of my favourites:
My life since Wednesday has felt like one long blur. My weekend along with the wider team I work with was pretty much non existent. And we are still in the early stages. The updates and situational changes occurred so rapidly that it has literally been changing almost hourly. I’m a social media manager, and no amount of ‘social media crisis’ training can really prepare you for what happens when it does happen on this huge scale. It’s brought a whole new meaning to the word ‘teamwork’.
Along with colleagues, we’ve had to post updates as they come in, across multiple pages, in multiple languages, as well as communicate with multiple stakeholders to keep them updated. Throw in some time differences, and my days have sometimes started at 5am and finished at 10pm. And I’m nowhere near the worst affected, nor am I unaware of those in a much less fortunate position than me within the travel industry.
I’m lucky that I can work from home. I can for the most part do my job with just a phone and an internet connection. Thank god for technology. That said, it actually doesn’t always make life that much easier. Being sat at dinner glued to your phone isn’t fun for you or the people you’re with, everything takes twice as long that you may as well be at home anyway. I did go to the pub for lunch this weekend as it’s across the road from my house, and has wifi so I just took my laptop.
I cancelled a half day holiday on Friday, and even when I did have the afternoon off I was sat looking at my laptop anyway, it was a very strange situation I didn’t feel like I could just leave it alone. Since Friday it all increased significantly as countries have imposed strict travel guidelines, and some have closed their borders. In general, it’s just very draining, and having to constantly keep up to date and on top of it is tiring.
Over the last three weeks, I’ve travelled I think on every form of transport going, across four different countries. I think I travelled at the last real opportunity that didn’t result in panic trying to get home or anything, as countries began to close their borders the week after I got back. Things have obviously significantly increased since then, but back then already there were extra hand sanitisers about, people with masks on in airports, and no anti bacterial wipes on the shelves.
One by one I’ve seen my friends and family cancel trips, or have them cancelled. It’s so disappointing for people, especially when some of them were affected by Thomas Cook at the end of last year too. I’m really hoping that my trips from the end of May can go ahead, including my cousins hen do, and then summer holidays after that.
When we were in Glasgow last weekend, the trains were all being kept very clean, and it didn’t really affect our trip at all if I’m honest. The only time I was conscious of it was in public places, I made sure to avoid all hand rails and door handles where possible.
It’s very encouraging to see all airlines and travel companies removing amendment fees and really trying to help people out where possible. If I had a trip booked over the next 2 months I would 100% be cancelling. It’s personal choice, but would encourage anyone to, not just because it will cost you less, but my biggest worry with travel would be getting stranded.
Working from home
A lot of my colleagues across Europe are now on lockdown and working from home, and truthfully I’m hoping we can still go to the office as long as possible. Maybe it’s just me working in travel, but it can be quite isolating working at home especially with all the extra hours being put in, and I’d like to remain in the office with people (hygienic hand washing people) as long as we can.
I’ve seen a lot of people sharing things around working from home, but my advice would be – set your alarm as normal, get up and dressed as normal, allocate yourself a space specific for working, and try to avoid all distractions. Also have snack to hand. I think it sounds a lot more fun than it really is, especially if it’s for an extended period of time, and you should never take for granted how much having people around you in dark times can help morale.
I am going to continue blogging, as despite being a travel blog operating in a world where travel is on lockdown, I am remaining very positive that we will all be able to get back to exploring the world in a few months time. I have an entire series on Italy on the way, and I think it’s important to remember that once this has passed, many places will be heavily relying on travel and tourism picking up again.
Restaurants, hotels, airlines will all suffer hugely from this, including their staff, and I know some people have stopped posting for fear of being seen as insensitive, but I’m taking the approach that these places will need a lot of help once they’re open for business again. If one of my posts inspires you to head to beautiful Italy in future then that can only be a positive. To be clear – I am not promoting irresponsible travel during this time.
I really feel for people who’s blogs are their income. It’s an uncertain time and with so many things being cancelled I’m aware of a lot of people who are genuinely worried about their income. Do your favourite bloggers a favour and continue to follow and read their stuff, especially if we end up on lockdown. Some of them have great posts, blogs, podcasts and instagrams that will provide a source of entertainment for many hours!
Travel is only part of this blog of course, and at the time of writing this bars and restaurants are still open, and although it is quieter they need your support to. Providing you are fit and healthy, have no symptoms, and are following all advice carefully of course.
Getting out for a few hours on Saturday night made me realise how much people think the same. I think when sharing any sort of content at the moment we risk being judged, but in Newcastle bars were full, restaurants were full and people were enjoying themselves. *I’m about to hit publish as I watch the PM speak on TV, advising against bars, clubs and restaurants now. So, I will still be posting about them, as I said before they will need our custom more than ever after this ends!
Maybe it’s a fear of not being able to for a while, maybe it’s ignorance, or maybe it’s people following all precautions but still able to be out and about. Again, I’m not promoting this if you have any sort of risk to yourself or those close to you, but I do think rationality is important when making personal decisions for yourself.
So I will continue to share on my favourite places in Newcastle for now too! Either for while we can all still venture out, or for after.
With direct family links to what’s happening in A&E and hospitals over the country, I really think we need to be appreciative of all the medical staff who are in for a very rough few months, putting others ahead of their own needs, families and health. Whatever you think of the NHS, the hands on doctors and nurses are some of the best people in the country.
I can’t imagine how tired, stressed and worried they must be, or what it would be like witnessing the worst of this virus right in front of them every single day. For most of us we will suffer with inconvenience, but nowhere near to the degree that those guys will at very least.
The official NHS guide to Coronavirus can be found here.
Overall, I think the main thing for each of us is to do what is right for us and our circumstances. The judgement and criticism will always be out there whatever you do, and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to write this, and I’ll be linking to it in all of my posts shared during this time. But each individual is very different with unique circumstances to consider. We could all do each other a favour by turning down the judgement.
And of course you don’t need me to tell you – be safe, be hygienic, be sensible, be conscious of people around you who may have underlying problems. Help those more vulnerable than you and don’t overreact in the toilet roll aisle. One of the best bits of advice I’ve read is to behave as if you have the virus, and don’t want to spread it to anyone rather than trying to avoid it.
And finally, I wanted to share this amazing tweet showing the Italian Air Force putting on a public display of unity to the people of Italy.
‘We will overcome’