Hey guys I’m doing pretty bad so far. When the pandemic was upon us and the world shut down I wrote this piece: Oh, the Places I Won’t go in 2020. In there I told you about my travel dreams and plans I had for 2020 that’s not gonna happen. It’s one thing to be sad about missed possibilities, but it’s even worst to unpack your bags from a trip that never happened but you were so close. I’m having a really crappy time as all of my booked trips got canceled so far.
I love to travel. Who doesn’t?
My 2020 started off pretty good in Egypt but any other travels were quickly forgotten as COVID hit.
With the corona situation changing day by day, it’s really hard to plan any sort of holiday that’s not within your own country.
But there was a short time period when the European future of travel looked bright and plane tickets were very cheap. I was so full of hope.
I have a bad habit of babbling my plans out to everyone who would listen and then feel like crap when things don’t go according to my plans.
This time I really didn’t want to jinx anything so I kept quiet. Only my travel bodies and a few close friends and family knew what I was up to.
The reality was cancellation after cancellation nevertheless.
Cancellation number 1: Slovenia
I found this weekend trip to Slovenia- Portoroz. It was a bus trip so better for the environment than a plane one and you get to chill on the beach anyway.
I presented this idea to my friends and I was so surprised to find there would be 5 of us traveling. We booked the trip through a travel agency about 3 weeks before it was due and everything was set. The situation in Slovenia was pretty safe so we were so sure nothing could go wrong.
The shock number one came like 2 weeks before the trip. Even though the situation in Slovenia was good, the situation in the Czech republic not so much according to Slovenia standards, and Czechia got moved from safe (green) to unsafe (red) countries for Slovenia. Well, we could have traveled there but we would be required to stay there for 14 days in quarantine and that doesn’t sound as much fun to be fair.
I contacted the travel agency right away. Funnily enough, these restrictions came Friday and got canceled Monday. Everything was safe again and all of this was just a weekend glitch.
All of this “will they won’t they” drama was not exactly good for the press.
One week before our trip to Slovenia I got a call from the travel agency.
The trip is canceled.
As we choose to travel with the travel agency there was one simple rule about the capacity. There needs to be at least 30-40 people signed up for the trip for it to actually happen.
Me and my friends were the only ones willing to go to Slovenia.
I still can’t grasp the fact that only 5 girls wanted to travel to Portoroz. That’s ridiculous.
So the trip got canceled even though we were super excited to go. None of us actually been to Slovenia, except for passing through but that doesn’t count.
I was so looking forward to scratching one more country from my travel map. So far I’m on the number 17 of countries I’ve visited and I thought I would get to 20 this year. This trip just as the next trip of mine could have got me closer to my goal.
Cancellation number 2: Spain
I thought booking a trip almost a month in advance was a mistake during a pandemic. Anything can change in a such long time so the next one would be last-minute for sure. Also going through a travel agency might not be a good idea as you’re dependent on many factors. The next one would be on our own.
As my Slovenia weekend failed I searched for a replacement. I actually had a ticket reservation ready to be processed for my solo trip to Berlin when I got a message from a friend.
She sends me a link to plane tickets and an Airbnb room to Barcelona for next week with a simple question: “Wanna go?” Of course, I wanted.
We set everything in motion. The flight was from Vienna so I checked busses and trains from Prague to Vienna, asked my boss for a day off, and asked my colleague to cover for my shift. After everything was ok with my work we dig into actual booking. I was in charge of flight tickets and my friend booked our accommodation.
Our flight was supposed to be through the Wizzair company.
They have always had such cheap flight tickets but their official booking system is a mess. Seriously they charge you for everything and you can’t skip any of the steps. For example for 30 euros plane tickets, they charge 46 euros extra for seat reservation and you can’t skip this step.
Thank god there are sites like KIWI where the booking of the same flight is much simpler and you don’t need to pay extra for the seats you already paid for. Everything was ready.
I already knew what landmarks we would visit and I had all of the things I wanted to see saved in google maps. I created the Barcelona Pinterest wall where I searched for the most beautiful places to visit and I had my outfits picked up. Naturally, I knew which bus we would take from the airport to our Airbnb room and how close was the beach. I knew which health forms we need to fill out before entering and I already set up my travel insurance for the weekend. We were supposed to fly on Friday and return Sunday night.
Right after our reservation, the situation in Spain got worse.
The numbers of infected tripled, bars, and clubs in Barcelona were closed and people were asked to stay inside. European states like Norway or Britain moved Spain from safe green colors to unsafe red and every British person returning from Spain would need to go to 2 weeks quarantine. That was something that changed within hours.
Slovakia has been super cautious during this whole pandemic so far. The changes our government makes are so unpredictable it’s impossible to plan a holiday.
Big travel sites I love and get many travel ideas from, also warned from traveling to Spain, especially Barcelona.
There was information going around that the Slovakian government is thinking about moving Spain from the safe countries list to an unsafe one. The information came from the ministry of foreign affairs’s state secretary, so it felt pretty legit.
But the information wasn’t clear.
Maybe. We’ll see. We’re still thinking about it.
I mean, I have already purchased my flight tickets, everything is paid for and I can’t wait for “maybe“. What kind of information is that? I can’t imagine I would be chilling on the beach in Spain and I find out I’ll need to go to 2 weeks quarantine upon returning. How are you supposed to enjoy your holidays when you’re stressed about what’s gonna happen when you get off the plane. You can’t know for sure because the rules change by the hours.
Safe to say I was super pissed. I already pre-packed my bag, but I and my friend decided we simply can’t risk mandatory quarantine.
We had to cancel our trip to Barcelona.
The one good thing about Slovenian cancelation was that we got a full refund. Not so much with Spain. Airbnb is nonrefundable so close to the arrival, but we might get money back for the cleaning though. The refund of the plane tickets during a corona time is a mystery and we’ll see if we get anything back in like 3 months. Even my bus trip to Vienna was not that easy to cancel but I got the store credit at least. I can’t cancel the travel insurance so I can go bonkers this weekend.
But the worst thing is we still don’t know is we did the right thing. We did the safer thing for sure but that kind of thinking leads to a very boring life.
Cancellation number 3: Qatar Airways
Qatar airways did an amazing thing and gave out around 100000 free flight tickets to doctors, nurses, and other health care workers as an appreciation for their role in the pandemic.
Back in March/April we could simply send a request and wait to be picked for a free ticket. There was a limit based on profession and nationality but after several tries, I won free flight tickets for me and one travel buddy. I received a promo code for my free tickets with validation till the end of the year.
I am enterally grateful for this opportunity but it’s not that simple as I originally thought. We all thought that the COVID situation would get better as time progresses. That didn’t happen as we thought, people just got immune to the fear of the virus.
Qatar Airways offers great destinations.
I was mesmerized by Japan, Phuket, or Zanzibar trips but there is a major issue with the mandatory quarantine upon arrival back home.
Sadly all of the current flights available by Qatar Airways go through Doha airport in Qatar. The idea of 2 weeks quarantine after a holiday is a no-no.
I want to be optimistic and believe I would use my free ticket sometime in 2020. But after my experiences with traveling in 2020 so far I really doubt that.
I have 2 more trips booked for 2020, one of them already pre-canceled because of the current situation. I’m just so done.