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COVID19: Pandemic Travel Tips

We've always tried to cut a fine balance between adventure and, well - you know, staying alive - Just like the BeeGees would've wanted. I've previously tried - and failed - to sum this up with a catchy little phrase... Cautiously reckless, recklessly cautious, cautiously uncautious... But since they clearly don't work, I'll explain a little. We want to feel daring, brave and exciting and promote an adventurous lifestyle to our children but to do so in a way where we are super confident in their safety, obvs! We want the kids to know that when we lock in the 4x4 on the car to expect fireworks and the unpredictable but also that we've got their back and know what we're doing. This has led to camping on the dried up croc filled riverbeds of the NT, driving 1600kms just to drive some more across a few rivers and 4x4 tracks, picking a new country or two every year to visit on the way back home.

These last couple of years it's almost felt like an adventure hauling my ass off to work in the morning, trying to avoid shaking peoples' hands and making sure i'm fully protected from you all with a 37th coat of hand sanitiser. In short the world has changed. We'd normailly try to hit the advenure sweetspot between accessing the experiences while, for example, not being eaten by them. But COVID brings a whole new element to the adventure planning. With daily changes in border crossing rules on top of the general day to day stuff. Even setting off on an adventure is a complex mindfield of regulations, permissions and sensibility.

We've been blessed in the Northern Territory of Australia. By care and caution and a little blind luck we've really not seen much of COVID19. We could travel freely within the NT, largely without condition, so we got to see some cool places we had not seen before, and re-visit a few cool camping spots that we love. We've missed our families, even seen new members introduced to the world that we haven't had chance to cuddle yet! But this is it. One way or another, this year, we're getting COVID. The NT borders are open, the idea of lockdown is behind us and travel feels like an option again. So let's get back into it.

So we planned a trip using a portion of our, about to expire, airline vouchers from COVID travel failure #1 (I think that would've been Bali 2020). It's a bit more accurate to say the mumventurer planned a trip but, you know, that wouldn't help my narrative! To stay with some close friends in Brisbane and finally introduce our kids then visit some family and hang in the Gold Coast for a few days - the kids love a beach! We're happy to stick to the rules wherever we can figure them out - but between the federal advice and Queensland and The NT's seperate rules and regs it can almost seem as confusing as the bullshit some of you guys have had to put up with in the US during Trumps reign of idiocy and in the UK with that accidental comedian, BJ. They all seem to agree we should be wearing a mask whenever inside or unable to social distance, and to sign in and show proof of vaxxination wherever we go. We're happy to wear a mask. We're happy to sign in. We're happy to show vaxxination certificates.

Tip#1: Know the COVID Rules and Regs where you are going

This may seem pretty obvious, but i haven't met you all - you might still need it pointed out! The state, country, town you are heading to will have COVID rules in place. Hopefully, concisely and sensibly written up somewhere. Make sure you're happy and ready to stick to them, or go somewhere else! Have enough masks to lose a couple. Download whatever app you need to check in to places prior to setting off, so you don't have to do it with a kid in each arm and a border security guard breathing down your neck. Have a copy of your vax digital certy ready if you need to. Do you need to test prior or after travel? Might be worth ringing the airline, hotel or whatever too to make sure you know what's expected (and what changes you should expect) while you're there. Always take a bit of control in advance if you're travelling with kids.

So we bought a bag 'o masks, chucked in whatever hand sanitiser was lying around and prepped the kids, got the QLD check in app on each of our phones. The flight was at like 2 AM so we bundled a couple of sleepy ass kids into the car and a sleepy ass dad drove to the airport. Masks on, through security and we're off. For the first time we've needed to really wear masks it was ok on the nice cool flight - we slept through it as per usual. While waiting for a pick up outside Brisbane Airport it was pretty clear that wearing the masks outside of the airconditioned flying machine was a little less amusing, its pretty easy to get uncomfortable in the subtropical summer air of Brissy, even at that unreasonable time in the morning.

Tip#2: Check your expectations line up with everyone else's

You've probably already made sure your kids and partner agree with whatever you're up to... or i'll need to write you a more basic set of tips! But if you're catching up with some people after a long time inbetween drinks, have a chat with them about how it should work so everyone feels safe etc. I'd hate for you to start chucking cuddles around everywhere only to be knocked out by overzealous uncle Burt for not respecting nan's social distancing.

The friends we were staying with are pretty in line with our ideas on mask wearing and stuff so we wouldn'tt be affecting their lifestyle too much - we're all keeping each other safe. From us!!! How fucked up a sentence is this - we are going to be taking all sensible precautions to keep them safe from us! but if the worst case scenario was that we would lock down in their home for a week, that'd still be a bloody good week.

Tip #3: Prioritise

You might not get through as much as you would've on your pre-COVID family adventures so plan a few non-negotiables, and then plan a few extras you might get to, or you might not. You may find that the kids just need a day mask-free or that you've spent so long sanitising your hands that you missed stops 17 through 24 on your extensive itinery.

Man, was it great to catch up with some good friends, the kids got on so well - we loved the first opportunity in 2 years to leave the NT and catch up. The plan was simple. let's do stuff! In Brisbane we instantly felt pretty safe. Everywhere we went we were reminded to check in and in most places we were asked to show vaxxination certificates. Pretty weird but when we're taking our masks off to eat it really helped us feel ok that everyone in there was vaxxed up too. Everyone, pretty much everywhere we went, was sticking to the script. The kids loved Brisbane (and there's defo another blog potential around our Brisbane snapshots) We headed to the Home of the Arts for a cool puppet making experience thing then the Lego Exhibit at the Science museum. By the way, good luck keeping a 4 year old lego builder's hands sensibly sanitised while sharing bricks with half the youth of Brisbane - That was interesting!

We followed our city visit with a day at the infamous Australia Zoo... The least imaginatively titled of all of Australia's zoos but definitely a must for us on this trip! We were rewarded by Terri and Robert Irwin's appearances for the croc show - great stuff - We kind of assumed they had better things to do, or were holograms or whatever so that was a great surprise! Again, we were expected to mask up - allowed to take them off when outside in ther quiet spots, walking between attractions and whotnot. Had to show our vaxxination digital certificates. I've seen a lot of people really strongly baulk at this stuff but I am so ok with it... hell i'm trying to talk to all you guys on Facebook, carrying a phone that listens to me all day and have about 4 smart speakers in my tiny home so i'm not the most assertive advocate on my privacy lol

Heading down to the Gold Coast was a bit of a shock to the system, while staying with family and friends it was great, we all wore masks, felt safe and it was a great couple of days catching up and trying to convince our two monsters to LEAVE THE CATS ALONE! But when we went to the hotel in Surfer's Paradise we felt like we were just about the only people wearing masks and social distancing. The daily reports of COVID showed the numbers there were exploding - well, duh! It was really hard to relax knowing that if we did catch COVID our flight home would be delayed while we quarantine god knows where for a week or so. So after a good long chat, we brought the flight forward and make the tough decision to return home a bit early knowing we had had an awesome break!

Tip#4: Know your plan B

You probably already factor in a plan B, C, D and 5 to your travels if you have young kids but with COVID it's worth knowing how well protected you are if you get stuck somewhere or have to change flights or accomodation with short notice. Check you are insured for any COVID mishap, I mean Fuckup, not sure where that language came from! And check the airline will let you reschedule and the hotel has free cancellation. I'd imagine those last two points are no-brainers nowadays but who knows - watch out for it! Also keep your eye on any changes to the entry requirements for travelling home - make sure you're ready to comply at short notice with any changes.

At the end of the day everything has changed, there's a lot of new stuff to think about when planning your next adventure and a lot of new potential pitfalls. But, equally, nothing has changed with respect to your travel ideology. We are still going to choose our adventures based on the same principals we started with. We want to feel brave, daring and exciting but we'll take every step we can to do it in a way where we all feel safe. Hell, it may even feel a little more adventurous as we venture out into new normal #327... Happy Dadventuring


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