Our trip to Argentina was completely planned. We’d spent hours putting together an amazing itinerary for more than six months in advance of the trip. We had gotten married a few months ago and had taken a short honeymoon after, but had spent time planning this to be a newlywed celebration trip. We were so excited, knowing we may not have the chance to take another trip for some time due to work and other life plans. And then everything changed as things became clear and we went home, ending travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
When we set off on our trip it wasn’t a pandemic. And we didn’t know it was about to become one. We went to the airport in early March with our passports and excited smiles on our faces. Once we got to the gate we were told our seats could be upgraded (for free!) if we waited to board until the end. So we waited.
We had been checking the news and washing our hands. But we hadn’t seen that just hours earlier Argentina had announced any Americans entering would be quarantined upon arrival for 14 days, mandatory. There was no announcement made and no news widely reported yet. What we did see was other passengers gathering and looking nervous. We overheard them say ‘Americans’ and ‘quarantine.’
Upon entering their group conversation we learned the recent news out of Argentina. The airline was quite accomodating and said we would be refunded if we did not wish to board. Regardless, we knew it wouldn’t be wise to leave the U.S. At this point in time people were scared of the virus, but there were no mandatory quarantines. It was about to burst and we were at the tip of it.
CHANGE OF PLANS
We turned around in the airport, and again knowing we only had a limited time off decided to head to the South. We had been planning this trip for months and didn’t know when we’d be able to travel again. Remember, at the time it was not yet a pandemic and no quarantines in the U.S. were in place.
It was a move I thought was only meant for the ’90s – booking a ticket that day at the airport. But we did it much to the surprise of the agent at the counter who said, “You know you can just do it online?” We spent a few days driving from Atlanta to Savannah to Charleston – it was a trip we’d always wanted to take but had always prioritized international travel. It was a lot of fun and we made the most of it. But once the virus grew, becoming a pandemic and quarantines officially began, we immediately stopped the trip and headed home.
Safety first has been my family’s motto for as long as I could remember. We made it home safe, washing hands, using antibacterial wipes and avoiding people along the way. We locked ourselves in our apartment afterward to be extra safe.
ADVICE & REFUNDS
If you ever have to change travel plans last minute here is some advice. We had our phones, our plans and our information together – so always be prepared, no matter where you go. This made it easy for us to reevaluate our time, our budget and to look for new plans on our phones last minute. We also sent word via social media asking for recommendations. And so many people helped and sent the coolest spots which was awesome!
One thing I regret is not taking my computer. I will never again travel without it. We had to use hotel computers (and disinfect them!) along the way over the next few days. We also allotted time between sightseeing to try and call our banks, hotels, Expedia, etc. for refunds. It was a frustrating process getting hung up on and ignored. So know you’ll have to practice patience and expect it to take time.
Again, the most important thing is safety first. If you need to travel during the coronavirus pandemic – or any pandemic – be smart, stay informed and travel safe. And if you don’t need to travel, then stay home.