Traveling in Uncertain Times
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
Travel. It’s what we are waiting to get back to after this pandemic subsides. It’s a sense of normalcy for most digital nomads. Whether that means being constantly on the move or committing to one place for a while, it’s the pursuit of experiencing something new, living somewhere different, embracing a change of scenery, and pressing the reset button over and over.
While we here at broadn admittedly decided to begin traveling again over the summer after being grounded for two months, I certainly have to say this choice is up to you and your risk tolerance. I can’t say when this global situation will be over, or when it will be totally safe to travel and to live life as you normally would, but what I can say is you should do what is best for you. If that means staying in and protecting yourself and those around you, that’s totally fine. There’s no judgment. If that means it’s high time to pack your bag, gather your tools for nomadic travel, and hit the airport, that’s ok too. There’s plenty of us out there that have taken road trips, domestic flights, and international flights just so we can gain back some semblance of normalcy. As you’re reading this and deciding for yourself, please don’t judge people who do decide to start traveling again and those who choose to stay home. It’s a personal choice and we are all in this together.
After being trapped indoors (and admittedly at my parent's house - thanks Mom and Dad!) for so many months, I’m seeing more and more people escape to locations near and far. Some have made it only as far as Mexico for a short vacation, while others have done the research and figured out what countries are letting people in. Depending on where you’re from, the doors have been closed, with no indication of when they’ll open again. If you’re from the United States, the open doors available to you have sadly been quite limited. As COVID-19 cases soared or have come trickling back, governments around the globe made the difficult decision to shut their borders to all incoming travelers, especially those coming from high-risk countries.
It's enough for anyone to feel trapped and claustrophobic. I certainly don’t blame these governments. It’s a difficult but seemingly necessary decision to combat the spread of such a contagious virus, but there are still a handful of countries that remain open or are opening soon to tourists, travelers, digital nomads, etc. While this list is not exhaustive and some require COVID-19 tests or mandatory quarantines, a few countries that are open and welcoming to travelers from the US are Mexico, many places in the Caribbean, Colombia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Brazil, Egypt, Croatia, Turkey, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Rwanda, and the UK. There are plenty more options for those of us who aren't coming from the US, too.
(Sad times for US Citizens)
Just as a side note, we’ve relied pretty heavily on a ton of different resources but one that stands out is this fantastic blog, Travel Off Path, keeping us in the loop with all information related to travel-restriction. We appreciate their work and definitely recommend checking them out for all the latest updates on openings if you’re itching for a change in scenery or are looking to start your digital nomad lifestyle.
After a two month stint in Croatia and now a two-month stint in Istanbul, I can safely say that there are places that can feel more normal and more comfortable. Of course, it goes without saying that taking the proper precautions will still be paramount. For the most part, masks have been used both indoors and outdoors, distancing practiced when possible and hand disinfection stations provided across the board. Airport travel, to be honest, felt pretty normal to me. Minus massive crowds in line for security at DFW Airport and Heathrow Airport, masks, different boarding procedures starting with the row going forward, and scaled back service and amenities both at the airport and on planes, it was pretty smooth getting from the US to Europe. Your experience may vary though.
(Empty security line at DFW Airport)
(Empty Terminal at Heathrow Airport)
Because when I travel, I tend to stay in place for longer periods of time versus moving around and that certainly holds true today. I’ve felt more comfortable being in one place, getting to know it, settling into a routine that makes more sense in the current climate. I try my best to mind my own business, wear a mask when I need to, but overall, I would say that my day-to-day hasn’t changed that much. Working full time from cafes and coworking or from my Airbnb has been normal. Going for walks to get to know the city, working out, and outdoor dining and drinking have all been the same, and frankly the normal even before the pandemic.
I’ve been able to maintain all of this and hang on to my nomadic lifestyle. Technically, more out of necessity since I gave up my apartment in Austin to travel full-time, but still. This feels normal. I’ve joined coworking spaces in Zagreb, Split, and Istanbul. I’ve sampled the local cuisine many times over, gotten extremely caffeinated at various cafes, walked along coastlines, and alleyways alike, explored landmarks that would typically be overrun with tourists. These are things that I’d normally do when setting up in a distant and unfamiliar city.
(Istanbul with half the tourists)
My style of travel has shifted slightly though. I’ve become more purposeful in deciding where I go and what I do when I’m out and about. I’ve never been a big fan of being a digital nomad and hopping from one place to another every few days but now, I have even more of an excuse to stay put for a month or two wherever I am. I like this because I actually get to pretend I’m more of a local and do more “local” things. I can actually relax, and not feel the pressure of seeing the sites, eating all the foods, crossing things off of my list.
I think this is a silver lining coming out of this pandemic. More and more people, once they do start venturing out, will be more mindful of how they travel and look for more local experiences and be more open to staying just a bit longer than they normally would on a “typical”, short-lived vacation. Especially with entry requirements changing every so often.
Overall though, it’s all based on what your priorities are, who you’re around, what your risk tolerance is, and of course, the status of those PCR tests. Unless travel in and out is strictly forbidden like in some countries (I’m looking at you, Australia, and Argentina), you’re free to start or continue your nomadic lifestyle. Just keep in mind that some places might be more strict than others.
If you’re looking for guidance, let me know in the comments section or by booking a time to chat. I’d love to hear from you, take a deep dive into nomading in these current times, navigating restrictions, and give you the confidence again to start nomading.