Tag: covid-19

Pura Vida

From September 2020 to January 2021 our kids went to in-person school in Ottawa. The school board did a fantastic job keeping cohorts separate! Our daughter had one positive covid case at her public school. The bus route and class for that student were cancelled for two weeks, which successfully stopped any spread into the school population. Our son’s high school had quite a few positive cases but was also successful in preventing any outbreaks at the school! Excellent! Both kids adapted well to virtual school when the region went into lockdown during the second wave.

In addition, Ottawa Public Health has done an excellent job communicating effectively to the community. They have been working with the local hospitals to monitor the city waste water as a secondary way to assess Covid rates in the community. Fascinating!

Following our last post in October, we eventually settled on a possible scenario. Rather than travelling around the world as a family for 10 months and visit 24 countries, we would instead pivot into “Canadian snow bird” mode and visit one country long-term.

Costa Rica quickly become the front-runner for us. Thailand and Vietnam were also excellent options due to their robust Covid action plans. In the end, we chose Costa Rica as we had been there before and therefore knew what to expect.

Costa Rica opened its borders in August 2020, then removed testing and quarantining restrictions for international travellers in October 2020. Even with the reduced restrictions, their Covid rates remained at a plateau from October onward. We monitored the rates for the weeks following the Christmas break and also found them the same. From what we could tell, most American and Canadian travellers who were looking to go somewhere warm for Christmas opted for Mexico. Almost one million in Cancún alone over the Christmas break?!

Costa Rica has a helpful break-down of entry requirements here.

Since health insurance from Ontario Blue Cross or other international companies like World Nomad did not fulfill the country’s lodging requirements, we used one of the suggested Costa Rican companies instead.

We rented a car from Adobe (a local company) via the travel blog My Tan Feet in order to benefit from their discount. A rental car with 4-wheel drive was essential for our remote location.

We found a home for rent via VRBO which sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean!

We packed light and flew to Costa Rica in January, returning to Canada in the summer.

Our family goals are to practice our Spanish, to be outside in the sun and fresh air daily, and to learn as much as we can about nature. Our daughter is pretty obsessed with reptiles at present! We have questions about the tides, astronomy, and the flora and fauna.

We also know that the Canadian government has made changes in regards to re-entry. The government has worked with the Canadian airlines to cancel all flights to “sun destinations.” This means the most popular Canadian destinations of Mexico and the Caribbean. However, it applies to Costa Rica as well. We knew that we would have to present a negative Covid test for our return to Canada. Now we will also have to quarantine in a hotel upon arrival rather than at home. Makes sense, this is what many other countries do as well!

Unfortunately, this blog will not be used for its intended purpose. Man, that trip was going to be epic! Instead, this blog will just be us living, maybe documenting what we have been learning, and hopefully still “having fun right now.”

Pura vida!

October Surprise!

We previously posted about our well-thought out, detailed, and frankly fantastic 2020-2021 family around-the-world trip plan. Spreadsheets! Research! Well-greased cogs in a perfectly coordinated machine!

A post covid travel plan resembles a grade four science fair project with still wet school glue… Something held together temporarily with chewing gum… Flying in a plane while building it!

In other words, you hope for the best but expect it to fall apart at any time.

Jbot spent a few hours this morning working on a spreadsheet to help us plan for future travel. He started by collecting data on various destinations that are open for Canadian tourists. For example, he created columns for the total number of covid cases, tests, and deaths. If the country was worse than Canada their cell was coloured red, if better their cell was green.

That gave us a good starting visual representation.

Next, he created a quick column on the average cost of living in comparison with Canada, again color coded red or green.

Finally, we looked at the rules that each destination has in regards to quarantines and tests. These are highly variable and will most likely change again. Some countries require a negative covid test three days before arrival, for example, some two days prior, and others don’t require any prior testing at all. One country even had a requirement for 10 days prior?! Many places test tourists at the airport, but not all. Some require 14 day quarantines, some do not. Some have rules about getting second tests a certain number of days after arrival…

You get the picture. The rules are all over the place! We’ll need to be vigilant about keeping updated.

We will still need to research flights, weather/climate, and insurance. But our quick n’ dirty plan of the day is:

Cuba – 1 month
Costa Rica – 1 month
Thailand – minimum 90 days for long-stay tourist visa
Europe – 3 months max for Schengen area

Previously, our main attractions were Japan and New Zealand. They are still very much closed to Canadian tourists. But the Olympics are on the horizon and New Zealand has just opened their border with Australia this week. Fingers crossed!

We are also keeping an eye on which countries are allowing Americans in… Maybe avoid those ones?

The future is very much a giant fog we will keep trying to find what lighthouses we can.

Resources:

Worldometer

Budget Your Trip

Travel Off Path






Huh.

Well.

That was unanticipated.

I mean, we had planned on getting sick, getting robbed, or random natural disasters…

But not this.

I was doing okay when I started cancelling our reservations for the Mexico leg of our trip that was planned for August. I did that in late March. However, after getting an email from the Hobbiton movie set this week advising us that they would be closed in September, I have to say I got pretty bummed. Celebrating our son’s birthday at Hobbiton on the same day as Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday was going to be really special.

What can we do? No point stressing over things that are out of our control. We are healthy and managing well. Let’s focus on the positive and what we can do.

I think the kids will go to physical school in the fall. Again, not 100% sure but that is what we are guessing. In that case, our son can do one semester of grade 9 in a physical school and grab any credits he hasn’t completed at Virtual High School. No big deal. The fancy IB program school says that we can’t go on their wait list as we missed their deadlines. C’est la vie.

Maybe things will be okay for travel again in February? Maybe?

Maybe we’ll just travel Canada in an RV? Maybe?

I can honestly say with all sincerity, I DO NOT KNOW.

Things may open up slowly but then who knows what different countries will plan for traveller requirements… There are just so many variables that are impossible to logistically plan around.

I sold one thing on Kijiji, tapping elbows with a stranger, before covid-19 was declared a pandemic. My to-do list of further items to sell has been put aside. My list of things to pack for storage also is paused.

Probably our biggest worry is that our lease for our car is done at the end of July. We’ll need to figure out some sort of temporary solution to tide us over til….. whenever?

In the meantime, homeschool, Just Dance marathons, and lots of video games around here!

Stockpiling Toilet Paper

After five years of saving and planning for our family’s world trip, it seems that an excruciatingly small thing might curtail some of our intentions. The Novel Coronavirus, properly known as SARS-CoV-2 (which causes the disease COVID-19) has become a near pandemic, causing panic in some parts of the world. Entire countries have begun restricting its populace from travel (like Italy). I travel a lot for work, and it’s been a busy week postponing or outright cancelling work trips for myself and other colleagues. Colleagues hoping for vactions this spring — to places like Mexico, Italy and Spain — are now planning for staycations or simpler trips to in-country destinations.

So what about our world trip? It’s not a big surprise to say that we’ve definitely been paying close attention to the news. Having said that, we’ve gone ahead and firmly booked the first two-or-so months of our travel. Mexico, New Zealand and most of Australia are now paid for (nearly $10,000!). But we’ve stopped there as we’re waiting to see what happens with Asia, and, in particular, Japan with its slightly older population (on average) and the hosting of a massive worldwide event in a few months.

Here’s a video from someone who recently traveled to Da Nang, Vietnam, and the real world experience she’s having:

There’s a lot of talk about the spread of the virus slowing or halting in the summer. Sure, historically, many viruses do slow down during the warmer months, but that does not mean that SARS-CoV-2 will follow the same path. If we avoid media rhetoric and look at actual experts (like Harvard’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics), the virus may slow, but that will not stop the spread. But worse for my family – we’re only talking about the Northern Hemisphere. Our trip will be taking us to parts of the world where winter will actually be taking place in August. It will be an average of 10 degrees Celcius when we visit New Zealand, for example. This might be a good reason for us to avoid much of the Southern Hemisphere (think Africa and South America) during their summers.

With all that said, are we necessarily worried? A little. Are we stockpiling toilet paper like other people seem to be? No. First of all, we know the virus doesn’t cause diarrhea (it’s a respiratory disease), but secondly we have a bidet. But what about the trip? I’m not worried about the virus itself — we’re young and healthy so we shouldn’t be terribly impacted, medically speaking — but we might have to avoid travel if a country’s borders are closed or if a country has decided to shut down all of their main tourist activities/festivals/etc. There’s no point spending thousands to visit a place when there’s nothing to do. Of course, if we do get sick, then we’ll have to self-quarantine in whatever country we’re in, which could severely impact the next stages of our travel. Even if some calculations estimate up to 70% of the world will catch this virus, I’d rather minimize our spread of it, if at all possible.

In the end, and to answer questions from family and friends, we’re definitely keeping the spread of the virus on our minds as we continue to plan for the trip. We will regularly watch the appropriate travel authority websites of the countries we’re visiting. And, finally, we’re continuing to teach our kids proper hygiene by enjoying websites like Wash Your Lyrics or watching amazing videos like this one from Vietnam:

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