In 2020 our world has been changed in ways we could not imagine. My travel plans for the year have turned into a holiday of self-isolation and working from home. Shopping for food is different. The way we think about money has changed. Now there is a greater appreciation for the work done by the NHS, social care workers and day-to-day jobs people do that we take for granted. In a time when we could go anywhere and do anything, a worldwide pandemic has defined that we stay at home for the betterment of others.
March 2020 will be remembered as a month when the world faced up to the realities of coronavirus: covid-19. In my small world this month was supposed to be about my first solo holiday outside of Europe. Instead it was a holiday of self-isolation.
Planning a holiday of a lifetime
For many years prior to 2020, Japan became a destination at the top of my travel desirable places. I had heard about the countries culture, traditions and food from friends, vloggers and documentaries. As a curious solo traveller I wanted to discover Japan for myself one day. In October 2019 I made the decision that I would go to Japan in 2020 during the cherry blossom season.
I was to travel around Japan for three weeks to Tokyo, Mount Fuji, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka and Nara. Tours and experiences were booked to help me understand Japan. I planned many aspects of the trip to write about to share my experiences. Alas, my most organised trip would turn into something far different.
Developments in coronavirus: covid-19
When 2020 came around, most things for the holiday were in place. As the weeks and months developed the effects of coronavirus were being felt all over the world. When the days moved into March, my departure of 18thMarch was fast approaching, as were the developments of the virus in the UK.
At the start of March, Japan had temporarily closed many museums and attractions across the country until 15thMarch (they were subsequently extended further). Friends and colleagues kept asking me if I was still travelling to Japan. My response was yes unless travel restrictions were put into place or my flights were cancelled.
On 17thMarch, my travel nightmare came true. The UK FCO advised against all but essential travel globally. My flight was still scheduled for the next morning. Before that day I had a strong conviction to still go but suddenly I became conflicted. Up until that evening I was convincing myself to still go but when I got home just 12 hours before the flight I changed my mind. As things were changing day to day there was a chance that whilst I was in Japan I could get stranded abroad.
I was hearing terrible stories of UK citizens stranded abroad and I didn’t want to risk being in that situation. It was a disappointing decision to make but it was the most sensible thing to do. Two days later on 20thMarch the Japanese travel advice changed. All travellers from the UK would have to self-isolate for 14 days. I made a wise decision.
A holiday of self-isolation
Despite not travelling abroad I still stayed on holiday, as I wanted time away from work. I quickly got over the disappointment of not travelling to Japan. There are after all many things more important than travel. I did manage to get my money back for most of my accommodation and tours, so I could put this towards going to Japan in the future. Others travel plans I had for the year would have to be put on hold until further notice. A holiday of self-isolation had begun.
What did I do with my time at home?
As with the rest of the nation, the period of self-isolation has given me the opportunity to learn new skills and do things I had been putting off. I redesigned my blog site, started to learn guitar, made my own pasta for the first time, began writing new blog posts, started work on the second draft of my novel and re-painted my flat.
A holiday of self-isolation has proved to be a positive in what I can achieve at home when I have time. Things that I have wanted to do for a long time I have got done and I feel better for it. Of course, I wouldn’t have wished for a worldwide pandemic to give me this time but I making the best of my bad situation.