Full-Time, US-Based Travel Couple Fly Back Home In The Middle of the Pandemic
Kara and Nate, non-stop travellers since the last 4 years, touched important milestones at the start of 2020: they reached their 100th country Fiji, they travelled to the ends of the world in Antarctica and also managed to book an entire private island in Philippines to themselves. More power to them, right? But the coronavirus pandemic came to them as a huge blow. Yet, as inspiring as the rest of their journeys, Kara and Nate decided to stay positive and uplifting even in times of crisis.
Initially, Kara and Nate barely escaped being under lockdown in Manila, their last travel destination, as they quickly took a flight out to Singapore before any further coronavirus lockdowns led them to a difficult situation. Singapore was a strategic decision. The country was doing better than most developed nations when it came to coronavirus and was being used an example, especially in U.S.A., to learn how to do better in the wake of the pandemic. Their health insurance covered their expenses in case either of them contacted the virus, even in Singapore.
For a while, quarantining in Singapore for an unstipulated time period didn’t seem that burdensome, where they also celebrated Nate's 31st birthday.
Unfortunately that didn’t last long enough. CDC quickly published guidelines for any Americans stranded outside of the country: Only 21 repatriation flights available in the next week that they need to be on before the U.S. halts further international flights. Tragically, Kara and Nate’s visa extension in Singapore was also declined.
They had no other option but to take the journey back home to Nashville, Tennessee: a three-flights, 27-hours long trip; their last before travel was rapidly banned all around the world.
They packed their bags with good ammunition: masks, sanitary wipes, sanitizers and buckets full of fear which we believe, taking a repatriation flight in the peak of the pandemic can necessitate.
The first jarring sight of their trip was not the strange emptiness of the airport but Singapore’s world famous, one of the best airports, Changi Airport, beautifully captured by tourists for its cascading waterfall was silent: there was no waterfall in sight. Sharing huge airplanes with a number of 12-30 people that could seat almost 300 passengers at once was what unnerved them next.
Some silver lining: they had entire rows in the airplanes to themselves to get a good sleep on this exhausting journey. Also, first-class lounges were easily accessible on the account that airports were working on lower headcounts so that cheered them up a little.
They had two stops before they made it to Nashville: Tokyo and Dallas. Even though they were told that their temperatures would be checked on landing at both the airports - nothing of that sort happened. At Tokyo, they waited for 2 hours in the airplane after landing only to be led to a first-class lounge - no checking, no questions.
There were so many things they believed that could have gone wrong: worst of all, any of their flights getting cancelled. But, the universe prevailed and even if their entire trip was ridden with anxiety and fear, they made it safely back to an Airbnb in their hometown to quarantine for the next few weeks before they met with any of their friends or family.
Currently, Kara and Nate are trying out new recipes, morning jogging routines and being full-time Airbnb dwellers before they get on a plane again.