Good morning everyone, I hope your week is going well. These are very uncertain times and I have difficulty finding motivation to write about anything travel related. Therefore, I decided to share my feelings in a series of Work from Home Diary posts. Feel free to share your work from home feelings in the comments section below.
First of all, I am very fortunate that I work for a company where we have the ability to work from home. My heart goes out to everyone affected in the retail industry, travel/hospitality industry, restaurant/bar industry and many other industries that are affected by the coronavirus.
Last week, my company gave us the option to work from home or go into the office. I decided to work from home the entire week. I’m used to working from home a few days a week, but working from home 5 days in a row takes a toll (both mentally and physically). In my next diary post, I will share how I am doing in week 2.
Laura and I were supposed to fly to Ireland last Friday (March 13) for a week for her spring break (she is an assistant principal). On Wednesday evening (March 11), the Europe travel ban was announced and we decided to cancel our Ireland trip. I cancelled our Aer Lingus flights booked with British Airways Avios, hotel awards booked at Hyatt and Radisson Blu, Hertz rental car, and a few Expedia activities. Canceling everything online only took a few minutes and thankfully everything resulted in a full refund, with the exception of the $55 cancellation fees per person charged by British Airways (I called to see if they could be waived, but it was not possible).
I’ve never cancelled a big trip like that 2 days before departure. I was in the middle of packing and mentally packing (we had Euros ready to spend, I added travel notifications to our credit and debit cards, and we printed out hard copies of our flights, hotels, car, and activities).
As a reaction to cancelling our trip to Ireland, I scrambled to book a last minute trip to Kauai, set to depart of Sunday (March 15). My logical mind said that Laura’s spring break was still next week, I already had my paid time off (PTO) approved, and the USPS mail hold was already set. In other words, I felt like we could travel anywhere next week. Unfortunately, my blind love of travel made me dismiss the seriousness of the coronavirus and the importance of social distancing.
When I wrote about booking my last minute trip to Kauai, I proudly shared how I scored super cheap Southwest Airlines flights from Oakland (OAK) to Lihue (LIH), how I was able to redeem my Wyndham Reward Points for 5 nights at resort properties and my excitement of staying at the Grand Hyatt. I expected readers to share comments of how much they loved Kauai and missed staying at the Grand Hyatt. But to my total surprise, readers shared their disappointment and disbelief that I would be traveling for leisure instead of staying home. Here are some of comments I received (you can view all the comments here):
Adam L said: I think it is highly irresponsible to travel. Social distancing means not going through airports. If you think you’re young and healthy enough to deal with a bad cold, good for you. But others are not so lucky.
RowYourBoat said: This is moronic. It is NOT good to travel right now without good reason. It’s not about supporting local travel business, rather it’s about stopping a pandemic.
Jim said: This is selfish and dangerous. I have a long-standing trip to Hawaii that I am cancelling. While you may be able to recover from this virus, your parents, your neighbors, your aunts and uncles, etc may not be able to. If we’re going to deal with this pandemic, it has to be a collective effort–young, healthy people have a huge part to play. That you have been working from home is a nice start, but consider making a real sacrifice.
Sadly, I initially dismissed these comments. But as more comments came in and the more CNN I watched (which I nicknamed the Coronavirus News Network), the more seriously I understood the problem and the importance of listening to doctors and health experts. I am embarrassed that it took me so long to realize the severity of the situation and the selfishness of my actions.
Less than 24 hours before our scheduled departure, we decided to cancel our Kauai trip. I was able to reschedule the Southwest flights for June (Laura’s summer vacation) and cancelled the Wyndham and Hyatt reservations for full refunds of the points. Hopefully by June, it will be safe to travel, but if not, I don’t mind rescheduling the Kauai flights for later in the year.
At that point, we decided to stay home in the Bay Area. In the next diary post, I will share more thoughts on working from home. Until then, please wash your hands and stay safe.