I have a dream…
Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve wanted to sit in a coffee shop in Paris and write. Write what? A novel. A screenplay. An essay. It didn’t really matter. What mattered was Paris and words.
Fast forward a few decades to early December 2019.
It’s still daylight and the summer heat lingers. The smell of bushfires is in the air. I’m sitting in a Darby Street cafe with my friend Lani, who is a mobile travel agent. Lani has just shown me the flight itinerary she put together because I’m finally going back to London and Paris.
This time to write.
But this isn’t just any trip. This is my first-ever solo international adventure. Naturally, I’m a little nervous to travel alone, but mostly, I’m excited.
I want a great, big, juicy adventure! To live, and to document.
I want Eat Pray Love. I want wild. I want to come home forever changed.
I spend the next three months in an orgy of planning, organising, and making lists.
Coronavirus is here
The coronavirus has slithered its way across the world, causing chaos and panic wherever it rears its ugly head. Borders are closing. Governments are issuing ‘do not travel’ advisories on Smartraveller. The Louvre in Paris closes its doors for three consecutive days.
And to the eternal horror of sane Aussies everywhere, our country is gripped by a toilet paper buying frenzy.
People ask if I’m still going overseas.
I hesitate and consider cancelling for about 2.3 seconds but decide nothing short of an alien invasion will stop me.
And here’s why…
I’ve already invested my hard-earned dollars into this trip. Flights, accommodation, a few day trips and adventures I’ve booked online. If I cancel now, I lose all that money.
And speaking of adventure, why yes, I am taking a cooking class while in Paris. Ooh la la! Then there’s my insurance. Being a responsible adult-type, I took out insurance the moment I booked tickets.
Will it cover a change of mind? Absolutely not.
Will it cover a pandemic? Well, my PDS says no but reports suggest, should I find myself affected by the coronavirus, my claim will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
I’m being sensible about this and not buying into the media hype. If only all the toilet paper hoarders would do the same.
There are some pros to travelling now
There will, of course, be people who decide not to travel. It’s a very personal decision and we all have our reasons for staying or going. As someone who’s going, I can look possibly look forward to
- Empty plane seats – I’ve checked my flight and a good chunk of the plane remains empty 48 hours prior to take off. That gives me more room to stretch out in my cattle class economy seat. Yay!
- Fewer crowds – London and Paris are notoriously crowded so any respite is welcome.
- Smaller lines into major attractions – see above
- Better prices – with the Aussie dollar tanking, any discounted ticket prices will be very welcome indeed. I just grabbed my London Pass with a 30% discount. coronavirus related? Don’t know, don’t care. I just saved myself £30!
Far from being glib about the situation, I’ve quietly made ‘what if’ preparations. Well, as far as anyone can, because the news changes every day.
I understand my insurance. I’ve made contingency plans for potential quarantine either at home or elsewhere. My kids and friends will continue to look after my home and cat if I’m away longer than expected.
I just refuse to buy into the hype
As much as any thinking person can, I understand what’s going on. I’ve weighed up the risks and consequences.
I also know some segments of the media are having great fun churning out
their never-ending stats of impending doom and gloom.
But I’m just not buying into it. I’ll do my own reading and thinking, thanks very much.
I wished for a big adventure. And now I’ve got one!
Boy did I get one!
Travelling solo as a 50+ female is an adventure in itself. Travelling right now, when plans are likely to change between take-off and landing, means I need to adopt a much more flexible mindset.
And that’s not a bad thing.
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