Hello again. My last blog post was in the middle of March as it was becoming clear that Covid-19 would be throwing travel, and life in general, into a strange holding pattern with an uncertain future. Although worries about the spreading coronavirus remain, for me the month of May has been easier to handle than April. So I thought I would start posting on the blog again and hopefully the coming weeks will see a return to travel planning alongside positive pandemic developments.
A Cancelled Trip
I should be in Disneyland in California today. Although it was disappointing to cancel the trip, it was a minor blip in the grand scheme of things. At some point my brother and I will get to see Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and until then we’ll keep those park tickets in a safe place. We could have returned them to Air Miles for a refund of the miles, but instead chose to hold on to them. Disneyland has extended their validity to December 16, 2021.
As for the plane tickets, the refund of the Aeroplan flights was done online with the miles safely back in the account within seconds. The accommodation cancellation also went very well, with a refund on my Hotels.com gift card and a refund of the TD Rewards points in the form of a statement credit.
It was quite surreal when the stay-at-home order happened and the updates of new cases became a routine part of one’s day. I cannot imagine what it has been like for all the essential and frontline workers around the world.
For most folks living on a farm, the staying at home part was not particularly burdensome. Outside of occasional trips to town for provisions, physical distancing doesn’t interfere much with daily life. We eat out very rarely and the last movie I went to in a theatre was in December…of 2010.
In the early days, the focus was on staying healthy and preventing the spread of the virus. Now with the gradual easing of restrictions, I’m concerned about what the future will look like. Will there be a second wave? When will borders re-open?
One great thing about collecting points and miles is knowing that it’s possible to book a trip one day and jet off the next for very little cost. Travel is always at your fingertips if you have the desire and ability to go. With borders closed and restrictions in place, that opportunity has vanished and who knows when it will return.
Aside from the benefits of redeeming points and miles, any sort of trip planning is now in limbo. Although many airlines are offering flexible booking policies with no cancellation fees, the current uncertainty makes planning difficult. I don’t want to get my hopes up for something just to have them dashed later.
A New Hobby
As someone who suffers from anxiety, a bright spot that has emerged from this bleak period has been the discovery of an enjoyable and immersive new pastime – jigsaw puzzles. I was looking for some sort of escapist activity after I realized that I watched so much news that I could name some of the books various CNN commentators have on the shelves behind them. At first I considered buying a fancy Lego set online, but those are darn pricey. A 1000 piece puzzle was cheaper and I thought it would take me quite a while to complete.
Then when I began my search, I learned we were in the midst of the Great Jigsaw Puzzle Shortage of 2020. Apparently everybody and their dog wanted a puzzle to work on during the lockdown. From the Chronicle Herald to the Wall Street Journal, articles on pandemic puzzling were everywhere.
I stalked the Indigo website to pounce on one when it became available – they had free shipping with no minimum at the time. Through a combination of purchases and loaners, we’ve completed several now.
I’ve read that puzzling is akin to meditation. Your mind is focused and freed from all those errant negative thoughts and worries. After reading up on puzzle brands and browsing the online inventory, I feel like I know which types I will enjoy the most and that will have the desired effect. I plan to do a separate blog post just about jigsaw puzzles and I’ll somehow connect it to travel and points.
It was a great indoor activity on snowy days…
Tragedy in Nova Scotia
On a very sad note, a horrible crime was committed in the province last month. A murder spree resulted in the deaths of 22 individuals. At a time when people need to come together to support each other in grief, it must have been especially difficult for the loved ones of the victims in light of physical distancing rules. Although the causes of the tragedies were very different, the shock and despair that shook the province was reminiscent of the devastating Westray mine disaster back in 1992.
Gun violence is not something one associates with rural Nova Scotia and I feel for the people of those communities. One thing that comes to mind as someone who lives out in the country, is the sound of an ambulance siren. In a city or even in a town of any size, that sound does not register the way it does for rural residents. When we hear an ambulance, it’s very likely that we’ll know the person in need of it.
May has brought fewer Covid-19 cases, better weather and a somewhat more positive outlook that life will eventually get closer to “normal”, whatever that may be. I don’t know how many people will be taking trips to far flung places this year, but it will be nice to plan future travel as time goes on. For now, I’m just looking forward to visiting places close to home here in the Maritimes, with a renewed appreciation for the opportunity.
I have no predictions or speculation on what travel will look like going forward. I don’t know if there will be a plethora of promotions and special deals, or whether airfare and hotel rates will be any different than before the onset of the pandemic. I guess we’ll find out.