Travel in a Coronavirus world: the more things change, the more they stay the same

We made it safely to Cape Town, but my anxiety was high going through immigration. Even without symptoms, what if one of us coughed at the wrong time? Or what if there was a failed temperature reading? Nerve wracking.

The anxiety hasn’t gotten any better, because we are still on our adventure. The news is constantly changing. The rules are constantly changing. What was open isn’t open. Things that should be closed aren’t closed.

With our flights, we originally split up, 7yo and me booked on one flight and 10yo and hubs booked on another. With the increased chaos, hubs moved us all to a flight on Sunday. We couldn’t find anything earlier for the four of us, but we wanted to reduce exposure by getting on the same flights and route. And with that change, we added another full day tour for Saturday and were getting ready to add a tour for Sunday that would end with us being dropped at the airport.

There are no good plans under this coronavirus pandemic, and luckily, hubs noticed a missing flight segment and discovered our Sunday flights were cancelled. After spending some time searching, we decided on our original flight itinerary. We couldn’t get tickets for the four of us without adding several more days to the itinerary.

We are still enjoying Cape Town, still being vigilant with hand washing and disinfectant, and still think we’ll make it home this weekend.

Fingers crossed.

Travel in a Coronavirus world: Race to Cape Town

There we were, enjoying the safaris, a visit to Victoria Falls, a river cruise, and some relaxation time, when our tour operator in Cape Town emailed me about a travel ban in South Africa starting the day of our scheduled arrival into Cape Town from Zimbabwe.

We knew we needed to keep up with everything going on, but we didn’t expect South Africa to close to tourists from the US.

We had a little wiggle room and discussed all our options, from staying in Zimbabwe until our flights home to cutting our safari short and going to Cape Town.

Hubs researched flight options and found some availability to fly into Cape Town, and we researched the ban to see if they would let us into South Africa the day before the travel ban. Ultimately, it was a gamble. With things changing so rapidly, we had no idea.

We took the risk, cut the trip short, and raced to Cape Town.

It was hard to cut the safari short, but getting to Cape Town, where our flights back to the US depart from, would give us more flexibility if things continue to change.

So, now we are in Cape Town.

Zimbabwe and our safari lodge

Old Drift Lodge spoiled us from the time we arrived, greeting us with cool towels and a cold Welcome drink that 10yo can’t get enough of.

We quickly dropped our things, changed, grabbed a nibble, and jumped into our first safari. The girls are keeping a list of everything we’ve seen:


No lions, but we still have three days left and are preparing for our 6am safari in the morning.

As for what’s happening in the rest of the world, it’s easy to forget the chaos amidst the peace of the Zambezi Crescent.

Travel in a Coronavirus world: Final leg to Victoria Falls

We flew from Johannesburg to Livingstone, Zambia. The flight was mostly empty, and we were able to space ourselves away from other people.

We wiped down our seats with disinfectant wipe, and they were fairly dirty. Somehow, I doubt British Airways was sanitizing this 737 appropriately.

Zambia completed the temperature check in the airport, writing down the temperature of each of us on our landing papers. We all made it through.

We enjoyed our drive through Zambia and our view of the Falls in the distance on our way to the Zimbabwe border. There was another temp check, and we made it through, found our transport, and started down the road on the final leg of our journey to our safari lodge.

Queue giraffes.


On the side of the road on our way to our lodge.

We made it!

Travel in a Coronavirus world: The new normal

My hands are dried and starting to crack from cleaning and washing. Should we worry about bacteria mutating from over cleaning?

Doha was an eye opener.

I think I had a false sense of security when we were still in the States. We were vigilant but hadn’t used our masks or gloves. Before deplaning in Doha, we suited up.

We had another layover and went to the parent/kid/family area of the Al Mourjan lounge, where there are cubicles the entire family can enjoy.

The girls grabbed wipes and went to work. We wiped down the cubicle from top to bottom.

While we were in the States, we saw the rigorous disinfecting process. In Doha, not so much. The cubicle we were in had dried on food on one of the couches, so they weren’t disinfecting as much as I’d seen elsewhere.

While waiting, a biomedical engineering friend corrected our process for putting on gloves and masks. To summarize:

  • Sanitize hands before putting gloves on
  • Wipe gloves down intermittently
  • Don’t touch your face with a gloved hand that has touched anything
  • After putting on gloves, put on face masks
  • Ensure mouth and nose are covered
  • Don’t touch the mask once it’s on and then touch other things
  • Once in, leave it on and don’t move it

She had more instructions for masks, depending on the type. Ours are washable, so I will wash them when we reach our destination.

Regardless of mask efficacy, they work brilliantly for reminding us not to touch our faces! The kids hate them, but their misery keeps them from touching things.

The lounge in Doha was busier than DFW, but I did not see the rigorous cleaning process. Food workers wore gloves, but I did not see anyone in masks or wiping the counters/serving utensils down. When one woman left her table, someone removed her trash, but she was only wearing one glove and did not wipe the table.

We confined the girls to the cubicle, except when I needed to run 7yo to get her energy out. We used napkins to avoid touching things, but mostly we resorted to washing hands any time someone touched something.

Our A350 only boarded 20 minutes prior to departure. It wasn’t until the doors closed that we figured out why–the plane was empty with more empty seats than filled seats.

Upon landing in Johannesburg, we were told to remain seated until health inspectors came through the cabin to take temperature readings. Everyone must have passed, because we were allowed to deplane.

This is it. The new normal. Disinfecting constantly, temperature inspections, everyone looking at you if you cough or sneeze. We are quickly getting used to this life.