I never write about myself in my travel blog nor do I feature myself in my YouTube videos or on my Instagram account. I want my social media to be about the travel experience itself, and not about myself (contrary to most other so-called travel influencers). Nevertheless, I want to share with you what happened to me last month, since it may have a (temporary) impact on my travel blog & vlog.
On January 22nd, I woke up at night feeling unwell and having a headache. Corona was the first thing that came to my mind, so I had a test (nasal swab) later that morning. A few hours later, the result of the PCR test came back as positive. It was a true shock. I don’t have the slightest idea where I may have contracted the disease. For your information: I haven’t been traveling in months (my last trip abroad was in October 2020); I don’t use the public transport; I always put on a surgical face mask when I leave my home; and since I am a happy single man, I don’t see anyone outside of my work place (none of my colleagues have tested positive or got sick before or after my diagnosis). I am one of those people who follow the social distance rules to the extreme, yet I got the virus anyway.
Following my diagnosis of Covid-19, I had to isolate for 10 days. After the initial shock came the anxiety: I am a 45 year old man, without any known risk factors, yet the knowledge that 15% of patients affected by symptomatic Covid-19 ends up in hospital (a minority of them requiring intensive care with ventilation) was not a reassuring thought. Also, Covid-19 is known to take a turn for the worse in some patients between day 5 and 10, so I had no clue at all what the virus had in store for me. This knowledge, combined with absolute loneliness for 10 consecutive days and the presence of Covid-19 symptoms, was truly a mentally and physically exhausting experience. It were 10 very long days.
I am lucky though that my symptoms were mild. I had a light fever and dry cough for a few days; I suffered from extreme fatigue for a week or two (they really need to invent a new word for Covid-19 induced fatigue … it’s something that I’ve never felt before); and I also lost my taste, smell, and appetite three days after the onset of my symptoms. The nights were the worst part of the ordeal: I was reluctant to go to bed (no matter how tired I was) out of fear that I would wake up with dyspnea (shortness of breath). I am lucky that this never happened. And I am extremely lucky that my friends, family and colleagues took care of me and supported me (from a distance) by doing necessary shopping and getting in touch with me (online and by phone) multiple times a day.
It’s been one month now since I got Covid-19. Needless to say it changed my perspective of the pandemic as it became a very personal thing. My heart goes out to all those who’ve lost a loved one due to this disease. Let’s never forgot that more than 2 million people have died across the planet because of Covid-19 and that’s an understatement since many countries don’t keep track of their Covid-19 deaths. Every day, I am also thinking of those that are fighting the disease, at home or in the hospital, and I am hoping for a speedy recovery for all those affected. In addition to the symptoms –whether they are mild or severe – the mental stress of the having to go through Covid-19 is something that cannot be underestimated and I wish everyone in this process all the support, strength and love they need.
The stress of having Covid-19 is real. But so is the mental impact of all the restrictions that governments have imposed on their populations across the world. In my home country, society has been closed for almost one year now (apart from a brief break in summer). Restaurants & barbers are closed; we are not allowed to mix social bubbles and households; surgeries and patient care were temporarily postponed (to avoid a crash of our healthcare system); a curfew is in place from 10 pm to 6 am; high schools and universities are closed with online education being offered instead; and there’s also a ban on leisure travel (we are not allowed to travel abroad anymore). It’s all mentally exhausting since there is not much perspective anymore (apart from the vaccines, since they are our way out of this crisis).
Face masks, social distancing and extensive testing have proven to be effective in fighting this pandemic. However, I am not sure if I can still make sense of all the other measures. IMHO, travel can be done in a responsible way with Covid19-proof protocols; restaurants can operate safely with procedures that minimize the risk of viral transmission; and schools should be open to take care of our future generations. Yet, virologists and politicians keep insisting that the borders must stay closed to avoid the import of viral variants (they are here already and the virus – which does not stop at the border – will keep mutating for years to come because that is what viruses do). The experts also insist that restaurants and schools are viral hotbeds, but so far, there is no conclusive scientific proof to support this argument. Could it be possible that the decisions of the experts – which affect entire societies – are sometimes based on assumptions and fear rather than science and facts?
Although there are many unknowns in this pandemic, I do know for sure that the impact of these measures on the wellbeing of our society will be catastrophic for years to come. One day, we will pay the enormous price for this prolonged period of lack of social contacts, the learning deficit of the youth, the staggering amount of people losing their jobs, the enormous financial consequences, and the postponed healthcare for non-Covid-19 related health issues. Without wanting to be controversial, one has to wonder whether the consequences of the measures will not cause more harm than the virus itself. Numerous public health officials and economists have stated that lockdowns and restrictions will cause at least five times and, more likely, as much as 50 times more harm than benefit.
The unprecedented health crisis has also led to relentless and sensationalist media coverage across the globe. Of course, the role of news media in the pandemic is crucial, not only to increase our understanding of the disease, but also to communicate sanitary measures and to maximize the impact of any governmental policy. Nevertheless, it (sometimes) feels as if the news cycle is amplifying the public distress and undermining our mental resilience with daily dramatic coverage of the pandemic, which includes never ending stories of tragedy, countless deaths, and Covid-19-related statistics. In addition, the media have created inappropriate star status for virologists and are ridiculing anyone who questions the existing Covid-19 rules implemented by authorities.
That said, what happened to me, in combination with the never-ending travel ban, will also have an impact on my social media. This week, I was supposed to be on holiday in the Maldives, but evidently, that did not happen. My ski holiday to Switzerland in January was cancelled as well. So it looks like I won’t be able to meet my travel goals for 2021, although that is an irrelevant first world problem of course. I still have a few trip reports left, but after that, I will have to wait for the travel ban to be lifted and for international travel to resume before I can publish new trip reports of hotels and planes.
- My Instagram account (almost 100,000 followers) won’t be affected. I will continue to upload one video or photo per day, most of them featuring highlights of my past holidays.
- My travel blog (100,000+ subscribers) won’t be affected. I will continue to publish 3 articles per week, and may re-publish some reviews of my favorite hotels and airplane products to fill the gap.
- My YouTube channel (700,000+ followers) will be temporarily affected (for a month or two) as I won’t be able to upload one new video per week featuring either a dreamy hotel or fancy airline product. I haven’t decided yet whether I will temporarily pause my YouTube channel for a few weeks or whether I will fill the gap with a couple of videos featuring the travel highlights in my own home country. Alternatively, I could also upload some videos featuring my favorite top 10 travel lists. Any input is appreciated. Once I am on the road again, I will produce videos in 4K quality, so that is something to look forward to.
I do hope that things will get normal again very soon. Meanwhile, stay safe, stay strong, and follow the Covid-19 precautions: be good about social distancing, wash your hands often, follow the recommendations to stay home and not gather (even if it feels safe), and get the vaccine when it becomes available for you.