Covid-19 hit a lot of people by surprise. One moment it was just a harmless-sounding flu happening on the other side of the world, and the next thing you knew, it was already infecting people by the thousands in your own neighborhood.
If you were traveling, it must have been a scary experience being stuck somewhere far away from home when many countries were closing their borders and flights were being cancelled. On the other hand, if you had been planning to travel, it must be devastating to see all that money, time, and effort you had invested going down the drain as you were forced to cancel.
Whatever your circumstances may be, whether you’re stuck in a foreign country or stuck at home, one thing we have in common is, we are all STUCK — unable to move about as freely as before. For those of us who travel for a living, and those who travel to keep themselves sane, all these restrictions are not just mere annoyances. They can actually wreak havoc on our mental health.
So, I made a list to help myself (and hopefully other people) to maintain our sanity while we sit this out:
Whether you had to cancel your travel plans or end your trip prematurely, use the self-quarantine period to give yourself a much-deserved break. All that stress and frustration can take a toll on your mind and body, so take it easy.
It’s important to remember that there’s nothing you could have done to prevent it from happening. Don’t blame yourself for being stuck in a foreign country. Don’t blame yourself for booking those trips that you ended up having to cancel. You couldn’t have known any better. Avoid dwelling on what you have lost. Instead, focus on what you have.
2. Get Reorganized
As much as you may want to avoid it, unpack those bags. Reorganize your stuff. Use the Marie Kondo method if you prefer, or whatever method that suits you best. Decluttering can do wonders to your mental well-being.
Apart from reorganizing your stuff, you can also use this opportunity to reorganize your life. Figure out what you’re going to do next — whether you want to continue traveling once the situation gets better, or postpone everything to a later date.
Sort out your cancelled bookings. Reschedule, or ask for refunds if you need to. If you’re not already working from home, perhaps now is the time to find a remote job that can earn you some extra income from the comfort of your room.
3. Connect with Other Travelers
Confiding in your friends and family members can help you feel better all right, but nothing beats talking to someone who’s going through the exact same situation as yours. Your family members may mean well, but they might not really ‘get it’.
So, try to connect with other travelers, the majority of whom also had to deal with trip cancellations due to the virus. My favorites are the solo female travelers’ groups on Facebook. Some of them even have subgroups specially created for people to talk about the pandemic and how it is affecting them.
4. Document Your Travels
If you have traveled or have been traveling for awhile, you must have accumulated quite a number of photos in your phone storage. Do something with them! Make a photo collage on your room wall. Edit and upload them onto your social media. Create a travel scrapbook.
If photos aren’t your thing, try writing in your journal. Maybe get it published. Learn to edit videos. Start a blog — whatever. Just document your travels the way you like best. Even if you don’t intend to share them with anyone, they can be great for when you need to look back and reminisce.
If you have not traveled, go and find photos of your dream destinations instead.
5. Replicate Your Travel Experiences
If you can’t bring yourself to Europe, then bring Europe to your home. Think of all the things you love about the places you have visited (or want to visit), and try your best to replicate them with whatever resources you have.
Play some flamenco music and dance to it. Listen to sounds of the beach. Light some tropical-scented candles. Make a pina colada. Bake an apple strudel. Cook some paella Valenciana or Thai green curry or Vietnamese spring rolls.
6. Find Inspiration for Your Next Trip
When I come home from an overseas trip, I find that the best way to keep myself from spiraling into post-holiday blues is planning my next escapade. I would either look at the world map on my wall for inspiration or follow other travelers on social media. It doesn’t matter how unattainable those dreams may seem at first. What’s important is that I keep on dreaming, because more often than not, I find that the things that I used to dream about are no longer just a dream.
Now is probably not the best time to buy any flight ticket, but there’s no harm in looking up possible destinations. Do an extensive research on your dream destinations — how to get there, where to stay, things to see, etc. — so that when the time actually comes for you to visit, at least half of the work is already done.
7. Visit Virtual Museums
Did Covid-19 ruin your plans to go to a concert at the Royal Opera House, or to see Mona Lisa at the Louvre? Well, don’t worry — all is not lost. There are now ways for you to do all that, virtually! It’s 2020 after all.
Sure, it may not even come close to seeing them in real life, but hey, at least you get to avoid the crowd. Click here to see a list of virtual concerts, plays, museums, and other culture that you can enjoy from home.
8. Learn New Skills
Let’s be honest — there must have been at least one or two things that we have always wanted to learn (and maybe written as a new year’s resolution year after year) but never did. To be fair, not everybody has the time to commit to learning a new skill. People are busy. Life gets in the way. But now, there’s no more excuse.
Use the quarantine period to teach yourself something new. Even better, find something related to the countries you are planning to visit. Read up on the history. Learn about the people and their culture. Learn the language. There are a lot of online resources to help you with that. Who knows — it might even open up some job opportunities in the future.
9. Support the Tourism Industry
It must be quite a bummer having to cancel your plans over something that’s completely beyond your control, and yet not being able to get a full refund. However, please also remember that there are people who might have it worse: small-business owners, guesthouse owners, Airbnb hosts, self-employed tour guides, drivers, and a whole lot of people whose livelihood relies entirely on tourism.
Tourism is one of the worst hit sectors during the virus outbreak. While larger corporations may get back to their feet after a month or two, smaller businesses might not be so lucky.
Most companies do offer refunds for cancelled bookings, but if you could afford to, consider rescheduling instead, or giving it as a donation. If there was any local business that you particularly liked when you visited the country, try to spread the word and promote it to others. Let’s be kind and support each other during these difficult times.
10. Practice Self-Care
Make it a point to take better care of yourself during the quarantine. Eat healthy. Work those leg muscles so that when the time comes, you’ll be physically ready to climb the Great Wall of China or hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
How does COVID-19 affect you? How are you coping with it? Share your story in the comments below.