Topping my 2019 travel was going to be near impossible. Multiple trips to Asia, including an 7-week stint to end the year, would be an insurmountable challenge even without the pandemic. But that didn’t stop me from trying, at least to start the year.
I book-ended my traditional mid-January vacation to Europe with great flights and great friends. A quick overnight with friends in London and then onward to Antwerp on Air Antwerp where I met up with another friend for some great beer.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) January 17, 2020
From there it was off to Wuppertal via the rails and a great time exploring the unique Schwebebahn hanging monorail in town.
Dusk settling over Wuppertal, as seen from the Schwebebahn this evening. pic.twitter.com/Vpk6h7lh8f
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) January 18, 2020
Maybe I should’ve taken it as a sign that my plans got messy in a hurry after that. I changed a pair of flights and booked to the wrong destination, though I managed to salvage the situation with minimal additional costs.
That change also meant getting to take the Inmarsat EAN inflight wifi network for a test ride, something I’d been hoping to get at for a while.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) January 19, 2020
Cashing in a SWU on a silly cheap fare from Barcelona to Los Angeles (via Miami) was a nice way to collect a couple more new lines and be comfortable for most of the trip.
I had another work trip to New York City in mid-February. I took a train/bus combo rather than flying. I had no idea that would mean not flying for 8+ months when I made the decision.
The fact that all the above trips occurred while also still suffering from Giardia that I picked up in India added to the experience in a most special way that I hope to never experience again.
In the interim I canceled trips to Hamburg, Los Angeles, Jacksonville and probably a couple others. Though I suppose the fact I typically don’t book too far in advance helped limit my exposure there.
It took until mid-October before I’d step on a plane again, and that was far sooner than I wanted.
Yes, I really set up a mini studio in the middle of PHL Airport. Thanks, Gate B6! pic.twitter.com/8JQ9OrSs1K
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) October 5, 2020
It was necessary for work, as was another trip in November.
When I board a flight I take a picture of the plane through the jet bridge window. I have for years.
— Seth Miller (@WandrMe) November 8, 2020
I found tiny glimmers of joy – of the fun air travel once brought me with great frequency – in those trips. But it was mostly stress, nightmares and apprehension along the way. It was not good.
Fortunately, as the healthcare situation continued to deteriorate I was able to convince work that maybe the travel wasn’t really necessary after all.
It was only 13 flights and 19,654 miles in the air, an order of magnitude less than usual. But I still managed a new airline, a new airport and eight new lines along the way. And I only had one transcon in a middle seat.
And I have no idea when I’ll be traveling again in 2021. No doubt some work obligations will come up, likely before I’ve received a vaccine. That will still be a difficult trip for me to make. Leisure travel is definitely off the table. I’m hopeful that by Q3 the vaccine rollout is sufficiently broad that an international work trip is possible.
But I’m definitely not booking anything yet.
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