Welcome to Day #9 of my latest adventure, 100 Days of Travel. It’s a new world and a new type of traveling. For the next 100 days, I’m exploring Macedonia and Albania as safely as possible.
The end of my visa in Spain means that I will travel again, this time to Macedonia. My travel plans are not much different than those in normal circumstances. I’ll be seeking out secret spots to go swimming, hiking quiet mountain trails, and tracking down street art.
But it’s not a normal time, especially for travelers, expats, and digital nomads. Over the next three months, I’ll be following my own additional safety protocols based on recommendations from scientists around the world. We can bring back travel, but it’s not going to be like what it was before, at least for a long time. Once we accept that, we can learn how to adapt.
I am aware that public safety experts are advising against travel. This was crucial in the early days of controlling the pandemic and I still believe that hotspots should be contained. However, six months into the crisis, advising against all travel is like telling people that the only to way prevent pregnancy is to not have sex. Yes, it’s a 100% effective form of control, but nobody is going to do it, so we need to start to establish effective guidelines for travel again.
I believe that both the virus is dangerous while also recognizing that the economy can’t be shut down indefinitely. Governments should provide unified and common-sense safety measures for the public to follow, but when they fail, it’s up to us as individuals to act responsibly to bring the virus under control.
Here are my personal guidelines for traveling for the next 100 days.
1. All Mask, All The Time
Stop being a baby and just wear the mask. Not only is this the easiest safety prevention recommendation to follow, it’s endorsed by just about every scientific community on the planet. The mask goes over your nose, don’t pull it aside to cough or sneeze, and it doesn’t need to come off for phone calls.
2. Curbing The Nightlife
No bars. No clubs. Crowded indoor rooms mixed with alcohol is essentially a cocktail for COVID-19. With the money I save on that, I’ll be able to purchase high-end whiskey and can spend my evenings pensively gazing out over the city while sipping highballs.
3. Eating Out – Literally
No indoor restaurants for now. I’m looking for an outdoor patio and spaced out tables. I’ll also be trying to cook more at home for the foreseeable future.
4. No Shared Living
As much as I love hostels for the community, sharing a room with international travelers mainly from the age group that gives zero fucks about transmission is already giving me a panic attack. Kitchens and bathrooms shared by other travelers also seem like an unnecessary risk right now.
5. Focus on Outdoor Activities
Autumn is an ideal time for hiking with the added bonus of being very COVID-safe. I’m also hoping it’s still warm enough to camp.
6. Work From Home
I’ve been working for the past seven years from coffee shops, cafes, and coworking spaces so on this trip I will be looking for apartments and hotels with a workspace. I will consider outdoor cafes as long as they’re not crowded.
7. Ready To Lock Down
I’m keeping the schedule flexible and not booking lodging more than a few days out. If I develop any symptoms or the overall situation in the country worsens, I’m ready to lockdown again.
8. Avoid Public Restrooms
Even before the pandemic, I avoided public restrooms like they were infested with the plague. And now that they are, I have even less reason to use them. My point is, public restrooms are disgusting.
9. Keep An Eye on the News
I follow national and international reports on the virus daily. Once you weed out the false predictions, guesses based on shaky science, and everything posted on social media, there’s not that much to keep track of. I’m mostly looking for spikes in cases and keeping an eye on new restrictions for travel.
10. You Can Only Worry About Yourself
I can’t help that other people are morons who can’t follow basic safety protocols and get their information from Karen on Facebook. Take a deep breath. Worry about yourself and your own safety.
11. Ignore Opinions
Everybody has an opinion on COVID-19, nearly all of them wrong. I’m not sure at what point, everyone on Earth collected multiple degrees in advanced science along with decades of experience at analyzing complex data sets to make sweeping statements about an unknown virus, but it’s almost always the worst possible take. And this is coming from someone who has a degree in science along with working professionally as a scientist. You aren’t right. Neither am I. That’s why we have experts. Sometimes they are wrong, but they are far more right than you are.
I’d love to hear what precautions you are taking for traveling in the comments below. Be forewarned, I won’t engage in any virus debates. Just because you have access to a dataset and Reddit does not make you a scientist or validate your dumb as dirt theories. The general public’s grasp of virus transmission is roughly equivalent to giving a chef’s blade to a child. Sure, they may be able to chop carrots, but they’re also equally like to chop off their finger.