Ok, so I guess we’re not fully post covid. And who knows if we’ll ever be. But at least restrictions around the world are slowly and steadily easing, allowing us to get back to travel.
I have to admit, although I’ve missed travelling – not to mention missing dear family and friends and my home country the past 3 years, travelling overseas has felt scary. It has felt like some distant thing I would do again at some point in the future, that I didn’t need to worry about just yet.
Then a few weeks back I got news about family back home, and I knew then that it was time. And although I didn’t feel ready yet, due to both Travengers and regulations, I started embracing it.
Right now I’m on my second out of three plane rides to get to my home town, watching the wing of the plane from my window seat. The skies are deep purple, and throughout the journey it’s been sunrise, sunshine, night skies and all the shades of blue.
I’ve just watched Encanto on the screen, after scrolling through a brilliant selection far better than Netflix. I’m actually so comfortable, that I just found myself looking at the time, pleased to find there’s still 4.5 hours left. I can relax and stay for another while.
The preparations for the trip were a bit more than I thought they would be. I was envisioning all countries in Europe being easy to travel between, and now finally Australia too. But I was skeptic to booking it myself, in case flights would change or something could go wrong on the way. So I asked our own travel organisers, Steph and Marty, if they could organise the trip for me. And I’m so glad I did.
At the end of the preparation, Marty sent me a thick folder of documents. As different countries has different COVID regulations, there were a few things to keep in mind:
- Finding out entry rules, and PCR test and quarantine requirements in each country I would pass through
- Finding out each airline’s requirements
- Turning my proof of vaccination into an International vaccination certificate
- Finding out how far in advance I would need to take a PCR or supervised RAT test before returning into each country on the way back
- Making sure I had sufficient travel insurance that would cover any covid related issues (which was mandatory)
And even when I had this amazingly prepared folder, I felt nervous going to the airport. It had been so long, and I was worried some of the documents for some reason wouldn’t be sufficient.
But everything went smoothly (except a conjunction on Spit Bridge and Harbour Bridge causing massive delays – which I really should have foreseen by now), and I arrived at a fairly calm airport.
Qantas had suggested arriving 3 hours early at Sydney airport, and I came in 2.5 hours prior to boarding, distressed after the traffic jams. I still had enough time (but, dear reader – please don’t follow my example). A mother and son in front of me in the check-in line were told to go take a PCR test at the airport, for reasons I couldn’t catch, so I held my breath as I went up to the counter.
But all was good and I could proceed. The rest was straight forward.
I was wearing a Sunflower Lanyard that Hidden Disabilities ANZ had given me to test throughout the journey, to be able to report back about to our travellers. And even though I’m not sure wether or not it made a difference, I somehow felt at ease wearing it (but that’s for another blog post).
And now I’m here by the window in seat 20K, embracing the journey. I’m wearing a KN95 mask, and it’s a lot more comfortable than I envisioned for a 15 hour flight.
I’ve listened to some of my favourite pre-downloaded travel music that brings me back to old memories, and watched feel good films on the screen. I tried a new dish during my stopover at Doha airport (which was delicious I must say), and ended up chatting with a friendly Kiwi, who was travelling abroad for the first time in his life. He was still nervous, but excited too.
He was from a small town, and when he asked me what I do for work, he was curious as he had barely heard about autism.
Now, I can’t wait to breathe in the fresh air in Norway. To feel snow again, and to hug family and friends for the first time in 3 long years. And on the way back, I’ll visit Paris, where I’ve actually never been before (which is quite the embarrassment for a European running a travel company). And I’ll have an authentic croissant at a street café in an unexplored city.
These are some of many reasons we travel. And even when it’s nerve-wrecking at times; it can make us feel connected, and alive.
Watch my travel journey to Norway, by checking out our reel below: