It has been four weeks since we got a plane in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and headed home. Believe it or not, it was not an easy decision to come home.
To be honest, it was surprising that making the decision to come home was difficult. Home should be a place you run to for comfort, but that wasn’t the case here. Even my mother encouraged us to stay away and that says a lot.
We are fortunate. Way and I are isolated with Way’s mother in the mountains outside of San Diego. We have a roof over our heads, food, and yes, toilet paper. What is even better is we have space – lots of space to wander without the fear of coming too close to another human.
Our boys are safe. One in his apartment taking online University classes. The other is stuck in India where the lockdown of the country went into effect fast and took us all by surprise. He is safe, stranded with other travelers, has access to food and money and we talk daily.
My job is secure, for a while at least, and I am still working full-time. It is my full-time job and Way’s language program, Get Conversational, that allows us to travel full-time and vlog our adventures.
Now that we’re home, though, we can’t wait to leave. This post is not meant to be political, but I am certain our country’s lack of a coordinated, national response to the pandemic is jeopardizing lives.
We’re guessing other countries won’t want visitors from the US for quite a while. And that fact has us thinking. What does our life, one of full-time travel, look like post-pandemic?
It will certainly look different. But first, let me talk a little bit more about why our decision to come home was so difficult.
The coronavirus forced us home
We were in Singapore when the first news of the coronavirus hit the news. At the time, most people were saying it was similar to the flu and we also believed that.
Even so, we saw restrictions put in place and an extensive education campaign launched on how to stop the spread. Then we moved on to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia.
Officials took our temperatures everywhere we went. It was somewhat comforting to know that at least some measures were being taken to protect the public. And at the beginning of March, I wrote about how we “cautious but not concerned.”
Fast forward a few weeks later and the severity of COVID-19 was evident. We decided to stay in Malaysia. Our visas were good for 60 more days, but more importantly, Malaysia’s handling of the health crisis was impressive.
They went into lockdown while we were there because there was a spike in cases. A religious gathering was responsible for the spike. They know this because they have contact tracing in place. They also found the spike because they have a comprehensive testing program.
Then we got an email from the US Department of State:
“U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.”
That along with the fact that our health insurance would stop covering COVID-19 related issues if Malaysia’s cases started to rise meant it was time to go home.
We bought our tickets an hour later. We were prepared to stay in Malaysia. But we were not prepared to stay away indefinitely.
As full-time travelers, knowing we are just a flight away from getting home to loved ones should the need arise allows us to do what we do. Not being able to get home was not an option.
The adjustment from full-time travel to stay at home
Considering I am still working full-time, and Way is still working on his language skills and program (it’s Italian these days), our days are pretty much the same. The location stays the same and is not foreign, but the comforts of home are nice. These days, we have nightly glasses of wine and a game of dominoes with Way’s mom.
We also get to watch our shows without the use of a VPN (we use Express VPN when we travel) and it is nice being in the same time zone as our family. I am also enjoying rummaging through cupboards to see what I can bake. I hear that is a thing these days.
The extra time will hopefully allow us to work through the backlog of videos we have in queue and get them posted on our YouTube Channel. It might even help cure a bit of our wanderlust. Or it may make it worse. Either way, it is what it is.
The hardest part of being at home is not knowing when we can resume our life. I realize this is true for everyone. But not having a home of our own to go to has really made us think, what comes next?
What does a full-time traveler’s life look like post-pandemic?
The question of our life post-pandemic has been weighing on us.
We know it is impossible to know what lies ahead. Will it even be feasible to travel full-time? Will countries implement tighter visa restrictions, restrict stays, limit visitors?
Think about it, at the start of this year our goal was to be in the US for less than 35 days for tax purposes. We won’t make that this year. 🙁
Knowing anything is possible, our first thought is to establish a home base. We knew we would do this eventually, we just didn’t think it would be so soon.
And while we would normally travel around to determine where that home base would be, we are doing the heavy lifting from home thanks to Google Maps, our past experiences, and some heavy-duty research.
It should probably come as no surprise that Italy is at the top of the list. However, becoming a resident in Italy is difficult and laborious. Mexico is also high on the list. Becoming a resident is easier, but it is not Italy. 🙂
So, one of our first priorities post-pandemic is to find a home base. It may be just an Airbnb to start, but hey, you have to start somewhere and sometime. That way if anything like this happens again, we have a home where we can hunker down and isolate with the boys and anyone else who wants an extended vacation.
One thing we know for sure is we are not done traveling. And even though we are slow travelers, we’re thinking we may become a bit slower. Being home makes both us realize how much we enjoy the learning and experiences a life of full-time travel affords us.
In the past, we let prices dictate our next stop. I anticipate our travels will be a bit more planned.
So we will wait for the world to open up and then we will hit the road with a bit more intention and some long-term planning in mind as we identify our first few destinations.