Traveling Overseas in a Global Pandemic
“We leave in just over two weeks and I don’t have my passport back yet. I’m starting to panic.”
I sent that text to my husband as I searched for ways to make sure I had my renewal back in time for our upcoming trip to Europe. My passport wasn’t even going to expire, it was just that last time we’d gone to France the airport officials spent a little too much time doubtfully looking between me and my passport thanks to a significant weight loss, and I didn’t want that to happen again.
His reply was his normal reaction to my downward panic spiral: “Babe, relax. Everything will work out. It always does.”
Right. Everything always works out for me. Somewhere over the years this mantra became a deep-seated belief that has played out time and time again. It has dramatically shifted my mindset to the point that I can find joy even in terrible situations.
Oh yes, then something else happened. COVID.
We arrived in Paris on a nearly empty flight and all was normal. (There were no doubtful glances at my passport, by the way). Things were a little different at the Florence airport. But just a little—they scanned our temperatures as we arrived.
I immediately started to worry that the beanie I had been wearing would make it seem like I had a fever and that they wouldn’t let us pass (do you see why that mantra is necessary for me?).
We enjoyed our time doing what we always do on vacation—walking around and eating. There was no wait time at restaurants and even the Mercato Centrale was practically empty. As introverts, we tend to keep to ourselves and avoid crowds as much as possible. (As I write this I can’t help but wish we’d gotten to experience a crowd-free Rome, as well. That would have been amazing.)
Everything always works out.
As we waited at the airport, everyone was murmuring about the virus. They were canceling all the flights out of Florence—ours was the last one. It was packed as people clamored to avoid getting stuck.
Expecting panic in Paris, I was pleasantly surprised that it was mostly normal. Like Florence, there were fewer people than usual, which we saw as a blessing (surely there is a patron saint of introverts or something).
Museums were still open and the one we visited had few people. We went on an amazing food tour and crossed things off our list that we hadn’t been able to do when we went with our children a few years ago.
Ian had wanted to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower this time but tickets had been sold out. We decided to try anyway before we left so we could see it at night and were able to go right to the top. It was a beautiful end to a relaxing, albeit surreal, vacation.
I assured them that our scheduled flight was leaving the next morning and we were leaving before France locked down and arriving before the travel ban.
Everything always works out.
We arrived early to the airport to see that everyone else had the same idea. We moved through things pretty quickly, though, so we had the joy of waiting in a very small terminal for an extra long time.
* This trip was quite the lesson in practicing faith for me. We had originally planned on flying into Venice and were going to leave a day later, but thankfully prices changed before I booked so I shifted things. That worked out incredibly well for us. Even if it hadn’t, even if we would have gotten stuck, opportunities would have arisen and people would have stepped up to help that everything truly would have worked out in the end.
where she shares stuff she either created herself or loved from others. (It can be read in under a minute, pinky-swear.)