As like the rest of you, the onslaught of Covid-19 brought fear and uncertainty. My number one objective was for my loved ones (and for everyone else for that matter) to stay safe and healthy. But back in late February, in addition to the global pandemic that affected all of us to varying degrees, working in a travel related industry, I was also laid off from my job.
As an avid traveler and no full time job, and with many things falling into place, I decided that I wanted to travel somewhere. In my head-and I had no reason to support this thinking-I thought Covid-19 would be gone as quickly as it came. Plus, I needed my "Eat, Pray, Love" moment. So in April, I took a risk and booked a round trip ticket to Italy. Why Italy? Many reasons. Given that Italy was the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, it was cheap, which is always a good thing when you are unemployed. I would also get the opportunity to practice my Italian which had been diminishing quite drastically over the past few years, but mostly because I love it-my family is from #Italy (including my parents) and not only is it a beautiful country with incredible food and amazing culture, but it was also a logical decision as I have dual citizenship with both the U.S. and Italy. I had spent a few grand hiring a lawyer to get my citizenship finalized a few years ago, so I held an Italian passport. Given that, I felt rather confident that at the very least, I thought, I would be able to travel there.
In April, Italy was not in a good place. As mentioned, it was the epicenter of the virus in #Europe. No one was traveling and especially not to Italy so tickets were quite cheap and with 150K points I book
ed, through the Delta website, round trip business class tickets from Los Angeles to Rome (Just as an fyi, 150K miles for RT business class to Europe is very cheap-tickets on avg will run you 350K-650K+ points/miles). #Delta was also allowing full refunds of points should you need to cancel as long as you did it prior to your flight taking off. So, in that sense, I had nothing to lose.
Now, I am not recommending traveling during a pandemic or traveling whenever you are not comfortable, etc. You must be comfortable and the decision to travel must be made by you only. You should also take the recommendations of government authorities into consideration. However, I have been known to take advantage of opportunities that make travel easier, more enjoyable and more luxurious at a lower cost (After spending many years at both #CondeNastTravelerand Travel+Leisure, you get used to the"high life" when traveling and you figure out a way to still have it-even when you have to foot the bill yourself). Again, booking the trip was a risk I took but I knew it I could get my points back and not only were the plane tickets highly discounted, but accommodations were much lower than normal. A month prior to my flight departing, my flight was cancelled and Delta put me on another flight which, if I had booked myself-without the cancellation, it would have cost me 350K points-of which I did not have. A few years back, when Thailand was going through civil unrest, I booked a trip to Thailand for 11 months later-airplane tickets had dropped by nearly 50% and hotels were even cheaper than they normally were. Again, I am not recommending you do this but I took the calculated risk of hoping that the civil unrest would be over by the time I arrived in Thailand-which luckily for me it was- and I was able to experience an amazing trip for a fraction of the cost.
I had always wanted to live in Europe full time. However, with responsibilities at home (a house, a need for a full time job, etc) I decided to come to Italy for two months. July and August are usually slow times for corporate America (at least in my experience) and I love the summer in Italy. It's hot but the beaches are amazing and the energy, wonderful. I know two months in a country does not qualify for "living in a country" but I also know this is a rare opportunity that I may never get again.
Check out "Journey to Italy" to learn what it was like flying from the USA to Europe during Covid-19.