Are we still traveling full time around the world? This is a question we have been getting very often lately.
The short answer is “Yes, of course”. In fact today we celebrate 1000 days of nomadic life!
However, as you all know, a lot has changed in this past year. Whether we want to admit it or not Covid-19 has had a strong impact on our destinations and our lifestyle as a full-time traveling family.
Let me explain a bit more in detail.
Our pre-lockdown plans
Last spring, just before the whole world went into lockdown, our travel plans were for the most part already organized up to March 2021.
We had plane tickets to Japan and Australia. All 5 of us were looking forward to these 2 destinations! Japan had been on our bucket list for so long. Instead, Australia was going to be our second visit and my mother was going to join us as well!
For the rest of the year, we were going to make a quick stop in the US and then start exploring South America. Plane tickets still had to be bought, but we already had lots of ideas on where to go.
Our future plans were so exciting! We did everything necessary to make sure that nothing got canceled. In fact, back in February, a few countries started placing some restrictions for people flying or transiting from China. At the time we weren’t certain of why this was such a big deal. However, we changed our plane tickets to avoid any issues.
We thought this was going to be the biggest problem we were going to have with Covid-19. Little did we know how much more of our travel plans were going to have change!
Like everyone around the world, we were not prepared for what was going to come. Our full-time traveling family thought this was going to be only a small hiccup, not a complete change of events!
Lockdown in Nepal
In March 2020 everyone’s reality around the world changed completely. The whole world went into lockdown. So did we! We were “stuck” in Nepal!
During our over 100 days in a very welcoming apartment in Patan, we continued to make many plans on what to do next. We did not want to believe that this was going to go on for too long.
However, the biggest dilemma came up once we realized that things were not going to change anytime soon. So how were we going to travel now in this new reality? Where could we go? Unfortunately, we had to accept that everything was going to a bit more challenging now that Covid entered our lives. This wasn’t a temporary setback, this was a world pandemic and it was here to stay for a while!
Initially we had a very difficult time accepting this change. Why?
We were not ready to stop our adventures. Especially we were not ready to stop when it wasn’t on our terms! We knew that we were ready for a change in our way of traveling but we were not going to settle down yet.
In fact, this time in lockdown taught that we needed to slowing down.
This was going to be our new approach to travel. Now we feel the need to take our time, not rush through, just to add a country to our “visited list”. But give ourselves and the country we are in the time it needs to be part of our life experience there. Luckily we had a chance to travel around Nepal before it went into lockdown, but honestly the time there also if stuck into a house, gave us a better understanding of the country. Experiencing kindness and friendship made us feel at home there. It is no wonder that we still miss it dearly.
How we travel now
Once parts of the world started opening up again, we decided to take a rescue flight back to Italy. We had a new plan due to the circumstances: travel Europe and more by campervan. We had already explored parts of Europe, but there is so much to see, so why not take advantage of this situation and do it now?!
This would give us the freedom to still travel, avoiding planes and some of the new restrictions. At least for some time.
We had already experienced campervan life in our first year while exploring Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. Check out this post about our experience and what we learned from it: Tips on visiting Australia & NZ by camper van.
Shortly after arriving in Italy, we found our our “home on wheels” which we named Rainbow! It seemed like the best option in this “new reality” and also great timing because Europe was opening up again. We were hoping that Covid-19 was finally on its way out.
Travel started getting exciting again because it seemed possible. Our kids were also thrilled about having a home for some time. We don’t mind the small space and we like not having to pack every few weeks. It was a win-win for all of us!
How has travel changed in the past months?
In the post Post Lockdown effect…is this our “new normal”? I talk about some of the things we experienced as we started moving again in Italy and about some of the new restrictions that had been implemented in order for businesses to open again.
As we made our way into other European countries we noticed that some of the rules were similar or a bit more flexible. However, there is no way of denying that this is not the reality we were used to anymore. The question we often ask ourselves now is: will it ever go back to how it was before? I wonder that on a daily basis!
Unfortunately, I do realize that it probably won’t still for a while!
Initially, we had the illusion that we were seeing the end of it, but once summer came to an end new alerts of possible country closures started. We were back to square one!
So how do we manage to still travel? We don’t have a set plan anymore, we have an idea of where we want to go but check constantly to see what the developments are in the country of interest. Our go-to websites are https://www.momondo.com/travel-restrictions and https://flattenthecurve.global to check what restrictions and requirements the countries have in order to enter. Of course, the official website for the country can give you a better idea as well.
Once we left Italy in September we decided to go to the neighboring country Slovenia. From there we are going to see whether to go up north or south. In the end, we opted for Croatia where everything seemed still pretty calm. After a month there we were going to move on to Montenegro but we found out that the country was shutting down due to Covid. So we decided to simply prolong our stay in Croatia. We felt comfortable there, we could still move around freely and there was still plenty to see!
The biggest challange right now with travel
One of the biggest challenges for us right now is the fact that everything changes on a daily basis. Today a border may be open, tomorrow they might implement a rule for a PCR test in order to enter. This is something else we have to put into account when moving around also with a camper. PCR tests can get costly for a family of 5! Especially if you are going to more than one country. You can transit in a set amount of time and avoid it. But this isn’t our way of exploring a country! We want to actually spend time there!
This winter our plans changed so many times, I almost lost track! Initially, we were going to go to Montenegro, Albania, Greece, New Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Then Greece went into lockdown. Plus if you were coming from countries like Albania the requirements could be more strict! It is all about the colors (red, orange and green 😂)!!! As we prolonged our stay in Croatia our plans changed and the countries to explore at that moment reduced……
These are the moments when I strongly keep in mind to be flexible and go with the flow!
Considering how Europe seemed to be on stand-by until Spring (hopefully), right after Christmas we decided to change things up again by getting a plane back to the US. We had not seen my mother in over a year so this seemed like the best time. Plus Biden was going to reinforce testing by the end of January so we had to take the leap! This video gives you a taste of what it is like flying during Covid.
Why are we still on the road?
After spending 3 months in Nepal we realized that our full-time traveling family was ready for a change in our travel lifestyle. We still want to explore the world but we want to change our pace. We need to slow down, take our time to enjoy each place we visit. Our first year was condensed with so many different countries that we often feel we didn’t give ourselves the time to take in as much as possible. However, we initially thought we had only a year to see as much as we could. Now that we know that we want to continue, what is the rush?
At the moment it might seem very challenging to travel but it isn’t impossible. It actually gives you the opportunity to explore places you never took into consideration or simply take your time in the places you are already visiting.
Our family is always respectful of implemented rules. We wear our masks where required and don’t impose our presence if not invited to. We know we are guests and never give it for granted but our extremely grateful to each country that welcomes us also during these crazy times.
Our full-time traveling family feels that there is still more to see and do for us. This is just a different way of doing it. We don’t want to give up on our hope and dreams but are more than happy to adapt to the times, hopeful that one day we will be able to go back to life before Covid!
Happy and safe travels to you all!
The 5 World Explorers