As the coronavirus pandemic began to sweep across the world earlier this year, borders closed, flights were canceled, cities shut down, and millions of us retreated indoors under stay at home orders—with, at the time, no end in sight. Now, as countries begin to tentatively reopen, we’re looking back at stories shared by our Women Who Travel Facebook community over the past few months, whether their time was spent under strict lockdown in New Zealand, living in a van in the mountains of the U.S., or in the confines of an Istanbul apartment overlooking the Bosphorus. Here are their stories—and what they’re thinking about next.
Making it through the day
Megan Tucker, 40, Arlington, Virginia. Quarantining with: her husband and two sons, ages 7 and 3
Every day is focused on survival—what has to get done and what can wait. During the weekdays, it’s a battle of juggling priorities and ensuring child care coverage between me and my husband. That may mean exercising first thing while the kids are still waking up, or [handling] emails and other quick tasks. Then it’s a few morning calls or deliverables before taking the kids out for recess. The most productive work time happens after lunch, when the three-year old is napping!
Halle Homel, 22, California. Quarantining with: her boyfriend while living in a van full-time
I wake up around 8 a.m. in the van. We take down the window covers and roll into the kitchen to make breakfast (the stove is right next to the bed). After breakfast, we’ve been [learning Spanish] with Duolingo to prepare for future travels. Then we either find one of the few open trails to hike or I do some yoga. We have to keep moving because public land has a 14-day limit here. Living in a van full time allows safe movement with little human contact, but it’s discouraging sometimes, too. We’ve been kicked out of places, water taps have been turned off. We don’t know when we will be able to freely exist again.
Dulce Morales Cortés, 21, Malaga, Spain. Quarantining with: a friend
I’m from Mexico City but studying abroad in Malaga, Spain. My day starts at 10 a.m. and I struggle to get out of bed since I have no plans. Sometimes I make a complicated breakfast, other times I just eat some bread—it depends on the mood I wake up in. But I always have my coffee. I then have online classes, some homework, followed by the rest of the day to anything else. I love to make some tea and stare out the window and just admire the sky—I can see lots of apartment buildings and mountains, and the neighbors taking in the sun on their rooftops. My favorite part of the day is an evening Skype call with my friends from my Erasmus program. They are the ones that make me forget about this whole situation. We talk about everything and it has made us closer.
Chanel West, 28, Jackson, Mississippi. Quarantining with: her partner of 14 years
This has been extremely rough (insert wine emoji here). I founded a non-profit back in November 2019, Isaac’s Angels, that is dedicated to dismantling stereotypes and stigma through authentic travel experiences. Because no one is able to travel, the trips I had scheduled were canceled or postponed, including one to Bali in March. Now I do school online, work on my non-profit throughout the day, and try and move around. It becomes a little difficult because I’m battling depression that comes around this time of year due to the death of my son. But I know I wasn’t brought this far to be left astray.
Maria Sheikh, 30, from California. Quarantining with: herself
Babies don’t stop coming in pandemics, so I am still going to work [as an obstetric anesthesiologist]. I am primarily based in labor and delivery where I provide safe anesthetic options for women who are laboring or having C-sections. At my hospital we take care of pregnant women with high-risk medical conditions so our team of obstetricians, anesthesiologists, and nurses can work together to come up with safe delivery plans for them. [Outside of work] I’ve finally started a blog, go trail running, and am finding time to read on secluded northern California beaches.
Elizabeth Roberts, 43, Portland, Oregon. Quarantining with: her mom, stepdad, and daughter in Klamath Falls, Oregon
Every morning I enjoy making a fresh cup of pour-over coffee, and my daughter sleeps in. I should preface that we’re staying with my mom and stepdad in south Oregon during COVID-19 (free child care, which I am eternally grateful for!). While I make breakfast, my mom, stepdad, and I chat, then I take a quick shower and log on to my computer to start telecommuting by 8:30 a.m. My daughter and I typically sit side by side most of the day (which I am relishing) and we often break to have a quick dance party or dash out to the yard to soak in some quick rays of sunshine. At the end of the day, we head outside for either a long hike with sweeping views of the Cascades, or a walk to a nearby abandoned tree fort with a tire swing.
Katrin Lindén, 44, Stockholm, Sweden. Quarantining with: her cats
I live in Sweden which means that we’re not in lockdown but have a lot of recommendations to follow from our Public Health Agency. If we can work from home, we do, and that has brought most of the country to a standstill. I was sick from April 1 until May 17 with suspected (but not tested) COVID-19 and was in solitary confinement in my apartment watching the apple tree blossom out of the window. Since I’ve been let out of my apartment I have treated my neighborhood as if it were an exotic location I’ve never seen before. I’ve brought my camera and taken pictures of houses, people, and places that are so empty compared to what they normally are. The Stockholm harbor doesn’t have a single ship in it for the first time since, quite possibly, the great plague of the 14th century.
Finding moments of joy
Ozge Akpinar, 31, Istanbul, Turkey. Quarantining with: her husband
My morning coffee on my balcony. All I can hear is the sound of the Bosphorus and the birds, which is never usually possible in such a crowded city.
Sanchia Lambert, 41, Stockholm, Sweden. Quarantining with: her husband
I light a candle every day for lives lost around the world. Knowing that my grandparents in South Africa are well and healthy. Music and memes. Virtual tours—I’ve been on « safari » in South Africa a few times now.
Leslie Vincent, 61, Delaware. Quarantining with: her wife
Knowing that I’m quarantined with my wife, who makes me extremely happy. We met later in life—we’re now 61 and 70—and never imagined in our lives that we’d be allowed to be legally married (we celebrate our six year anniversary in August). She makes me smile every single day. Right now, as I type this, we should have been settling into our first night in Prague, a city that neither of us have ever visited. It would have been part of a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe.
Gloria Dutton, 35, Denver. Quarantining with: her dog, Roscoe
Around 7:30 p.m. the air is perfect, the sun is setting, the weather is great, and the feeling reminds me of dusk while traveling. I have a glass of wine and just appreciate the day that happened, and the day to come. I want to stay in that moment forever.
Maria Sieve, 39, Brasília, Brazil; Quarantining with: her cat, Fofa
Collecting fresh avocados and limes from the trees on my daily walks and then making guacamole. Seeing animals and birds like capybaras, parrots, and burrowing owls.
Andrea De La Cruz, 30, Houston, Texas. Quarantining with: her husband
We got a dog, Bella, during quarantine. I was anxious and causing fights with my husband over dumb stuff. The dog has definitely helped ease my anxiety.
Gloria Carion, 60, Basel, Switzerland. Quarantining with: her husband, daughter, and daughter’s boyfriend
Being able to talk to my 92-year-old mother and siblings who live in California. Talking to my daughters every day. Having Zoom calls with all my friends from around the world. It seems that the silver lining is having the time to reconnect with friends.
Keeping the spirit of travel alive
Laurie Falkenstein, 54, Maryland. Quarantining with: her husband and daughter
Cooking foods from all our travels—especially [dishes from] South Korea and Morocco—and remembering to be grateful for all the trips that we’ve taken; we went to Egypt and Jordan in December 2019. I’m also planning trips so I can complete visiting all 50 states. I have five more to go, with Hawaii being last. And our next trip to Europe will be in 2022 if I get my way.
Ozge Akpinar, 31, Istanbul, Turkey. Quarantining with: her husband
I started a new podcast called Good City Sounds, which features ambient sounds from our favorite cities like traveling on Tram 28 in Lisbon or sitting on a terrace in Saint Germain, Paris. It makes you close your eyes and transports you to that beautiful moment, even if it’s just for five minutes.
Anna Guastello, 32, New York City. Quarantining with: her boyfriend
Trying new wines from around the world (yes, France makes great wine but have you tried Armenian wine?). Reading books from around the world; exploring recipes and tracking down all the spices needed for them.
Getting back out there
Shalese Higginbotham, 30, Orange, Virginia. Quarantining with: her husband
My first trip when this is over will be to Paris! It literally makes my heart beat a little faster whenever I see photos of it, but I haven’t gone yet. Quarantine has made me realize that you simply cannot wait to take those trips you’ve always wanted to take.
Kathy Chisholm, 37, Wellington, New Zealand. Quarantining with: her husband in an Airbnb
This pandemic caught us in a weird scenario where we really don’t live anywhere, so it’s been pretty easy to feel like we’re still on a vacation. While New Zealand is on a relatively strict lockdown currently, they have contained the virus extraordinarily well and once it drops down to a lockdown level where trans-regional travel can commence again, we are going to pick up where we left off on our planned trip. After Wellington, we plan to road trip through the rest of the North Island, stopping in Hawke’s Bay and Taupo, before arriving in Auckland. It feels like the best decision for us is to remain in New Zealand until things are more under control in the U.S.
Elizabeth Rowan, 26, California. Quarantining with: her sister
I want to take a Southwest road trip through Southern California, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona hitting as many national and state parks as I can. All I want to do is be outside.
We’re reporting on how COVID-19 impacts travel on a daily basis. Find all of our coronavirus coverage and travel resources here.