I keep having these moments where I stop and think about the past few weeks. 3 weeks ago I was in New Zealand helping a friend. The coronavirus scare was gaining steam but it didn’t feel like it was all-consuming just yet. Two weeks ago I was in Las Vegas checking on the restaurants that constitute a significant part of my day job. I was way too heads down in work to do much in the way of talking to you folks on a regular basis. I was heads down helping my friend, then dove right into the impact of COVID-19 on our business. In short, I spent very little time thinking about the impact on me personally and my family.
When my flight took off from Vegas mid-month to head home, I still had a spring break vacation planned. I talked to my wife about the possibility we might go to a movie. It just hadn’t sunk in. Shortly after I arrived home, casinos started closing. Shortly thereafter, the Governor of Nevada shuttered all non-essential businesses. School closures in Virginia quickly got extended. Then, school was cancelled for the remainder of the school year. The situation in New York got out of control. Positive test results doubled. Then, they doubled again. And, again. As I sit here, two weeks after getting home, the landscape is completely different.
I’m now openly questioning if our family will take a planned tip in late June. And, I have literally not a single other airline ticket or hotel booked in the future. Earlier today, the federal government extended their current guidance on social distancing until at least the end of April. In what seems at the same time like the blink of an eye and an eternity, our world has changed.
We’re Not Alone
There were over 3 million new applications for unemployment assistance in the United States last week. When you consider the claims were in the low hundred thousands for months prior, this is a staggering number of jobless people seeking help. Watching the crisis unfold in places like New York in both print and television is heartbreaking. Most of the folks I talk to echo the same them. Uncertainty. When will it end? How bad will the economy be? Will someone they love get sick or die from COVID-19? I’ve asked all the same questions.
It Will Get Better. When It Does….
For as long as I can recall, travel has been a special part of my life. As a child, we used my father’s frequent flyer miles to vacation. It’s how we saw Disney World, California, Nova Scotia and places I thought were a million miles away (Cancun). As a young professional, I was in the hotel industry. I traveled on task force projects up and down the East Coast. A stint in the corporate office of a hotel chain saw me flying to Columbus, Detroit and Pueblo, Colorado. And, a job in throes of the dot com bubble had me planning conferences for internet service providers in Memphis, Chicago and Vancouver. Travel is in my blood.
When I started dating the woman who would become my wife, I was the first one to take her north of the Mason-Dixon Line. When it was time to propose, a trip to Napa Valley seemed the perfect place. Our honeymoon? You guessed it. That exotic location millions of miles away, Cancun. Since then, we’ve visited numerous countries sprawled across a number of continents. Many of those years we’ve had our kids in tow as we show them the world.
When it’s safe to travel, our family will be on the road. Sure, I’ll be on the road for work. But, travel will be how our family recovers. It’ll be how we get back to feeling normal, or whatever the new normal is. We travel to explore. We travel to visit family. We travel to connect. And, occasionally we travel to disconnect. All of these things make us feel alive.
Our First Trip
Where would we go first? I think it’s going to be one of two places. Either Nova Scotia to visit family or Disney World. I have family up in Nova Scotia and have been visiting there since I was a baby. I have so many incredible memories from the area. After annual trips each of the past 12 years, our kids have those same memories as well. There really is nothing more special to me than seeing the world through the eyes of our children, especially meaningful when I can recall being a kid on those same adventures. Our family still lives up there and I can’t imagine something more fulfilling than a hug from a family member we haven’t seen in a while.
Before half of you roll your eyes at Disney World, give me a moment to explain. Our kids love Disney World and have a ton of great experiences there. Fond memories are probably the most meaningful reason we travel. Our memory banks are jam-packed with moments of laughter and joy from places all around the world. But, Disney is a happy place for us. We understand how to navigate the madness better than most families. And, we’re also content just to walk around and take it all in. We’ve ridden every ride, so there’s no rush to do everything. I imagine comfort will feel pretty good when this is all over.
The Final Two Pennies
Travel will be an integral part of how our family will recover from the current crisis. If you’ve read this far, I imagine that travel is something you enjoy as well. Maybe you even dream about it from time to time, like I do. My kids don’t think of the world as a big place. As a matter of fact, they think the flight to Cancun is relatively short, especially when compared to Australia!
I’m sure you’ve had rough days in the past few weeks. And, you may have many more to come. The fear of losing a job in this crisis is real, as is the possibility of losing a loved one. There is no shame in being scared right now. But, this will end. We will get through this. While we’re in the thick of it, think of a place you’ve visited that brings you fond memories. Think of a family member that you just can’t wait to see again. Or, just daydream about that one special place you can’t wait to see for the first time.
Soon enough, you and I will be in a better place. We’ll both be making memories. I can’t wait.
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