2020 is finally coming to an end, just a few more hours to go. Is it just me, or did it feel like 2020 went on for about three years at least? I mean, can you even remember what happened back in January?
Usually, I would use these last few hours of the year to reflect on my travels of the last 12 months, total up the number of flights I’ve taken, the countries I’ve visited. And generally dwell in travel memories and highlights of the year.
Given that I haven’t actually boarded a plane since early March, I have a feeling this could be my shortest post yet. But I still want to take some time to reflect on this rather strange year.
Let’s start with my 2020 travel stats, as meagre as they might be.
I’ve visited just three countries: France, USA and Germany (plus driving through Luxembourg and Belgium, but that doesn’t really count in my book).
I flew eight times, which is less than I would have typically done in a month in previous years (the record still stands at six flights in seven days back in 2018). I used just 2 airlines (British Airways and Vueling) and went through eight different airports. The lack of flying unfortunately saw me lose my frequent flyer silver status with British Airways back in June.
Well, I told you it wouldn’t be much. But all the more reason to look at 2020 in a bit more detail (even if it just for my future self to remember it for years to come).
The year pretty much started as 2019 had ended. With back-to-back trips to Paris (and with the Paris strike still in full swing). Plus, two trips to Germany.
But I’ll be honest with you. After years of travelling, this January I finally reached my breaking point. The weekly trips to Paris were taking their toll. Paired with a case of food poisoning whilst travelling (not the greatest experience) and a (not unexpected, but still painful) loss in the family, I was heading for a total breakdown. I knew I had to slow down and reduce the number of travels … and luckily my office fully supported me here.
Careful what you wish for though. Little did I know back in January that I wouldn’t just be slowing down a little, but pretty much come a complete and utter stand still (and with me the rest of the world it seems).
Just two trips in February, one to Paris and another day trip to Germany.
Which left more time for other things, like exploring some Secret Gardens in London. Also, we completed on our house and were busy renovating and getting it ready to move in March.
March started with a week in New York City. Back in January we briefly considered cancelling the trip (with the house purchase, the move and everything), but in hindsight I must say thank goodness we didn’t. We had a great week, re-visiting much loved sights as well as exploring new attractions (like the Vessel at Hudson Yards and the Time Out Market in Brooklyn). And even doing some self-guided movie locations tours (including our all-time favourite movie ‘You’ve got Mail’).
As soon as we arrived back from New York, it was time to pack up the house. As we would be moving into our new house the following weekend. No rest for the wicked. I am glad to report we managed to complete the move without further problems and with little time to spare. As shortly after the UK entered lock down.
April to June 2020
Not much happened over the next weeks and months. No travels, not even a trip to London (what used to be my daily commute all of a sudden became a destination too far to reach). We stayed at home, explored our new surroundings during daily walks, runs and cycle tours and enjoyed the amazing weather (gosh, I can barely remember the last time I had such tanned legs).
Oh, and since both Mr T and I were furloughed, we had plenty of time to continue renovating and decorating the house (good thing we stocked up on paints before the lock down). If you are curious about the house, head to Instagram and check it out.
With lock down over and rules relaxing a little, I eventually managed a trip to London. How weird it felt walking through an almost deserted London, when in normal times the city would have been bursting with tourists.
We originally planned to head to Cornwall for a week of socially distanced holidaying at the end of July. The Airbnb was booked and for once we even researched things to do down there and cycle routes we would want to take. But it all came a little different. Another loss in the family meant all Cornwall plans were cancelled last minute and we headed to Germany instead. Taking a ferry from Dover to Dunkirk in times of Covid sure felt a bit different, but I probably still preferred it to flying at that time.
Once we arrived back, my parents came to visit us in the new house. The first overnight visitors since we moved in (and the last for 2020, not that we knew that at the time).
But other than that, nothing really to report for August. We both eased back into work (albeit part time at first). I managed another one or two trips to London, but that’s it.
We did eventually manage another trip in September, although this time we stayed in England. A week up North to the area of Tyne and Wear would be the highlight of the month. Cycle trips, a day trip to Newcastle upon Tyne and a visit to the Beamish Living Museum of the North kept us busy for the five days.
As I would be working from home for the foreseeable future and we were both home pretty much all day every day anyway, we decided it was finally the perfect time to get ourselves a puppy. We had wanted to get one for quite a while now, but with my constant travelling, there just never was the right time. So, mid-October, our little dapple dachshund Frank moved in. And it didn’t take him long to win us over and have us firmly wrapped around his little wrinkly paws.
As we were still hoping to travel to Germany for Christmas, we immediately started everything necessary for Frank to be able to travel. Get him vaccinated, get him a passport, book our travel accordingly (annoyingly you can’t just fly between the UK and Europe with a dog in the cabin… it would need to go into hold).
November to December 2020
Lock down number two, tier 2, 3, and eventually 4…
Somehow it all went downhill towards the end of the year. We kept our hopes up until the very last minute and didn’t cancel our trip to Germany until right before Christmas. But with every week that passed it looked less and less likely that we would be able (or willing) to travel.
So instead, we got the house ready for Christmas (I mean, surely getting the Christmas tree up at the end of November isn’t too early?) and baked tons of Christmas cookies (although we weren’t allowed to have friends over to share them with). I did manage one trip to London at the beginning of December, for a little Christmas shopping (I’ve never seen Oxford Street that empty in December) and to look at the Christmas lights.
For the first time in my entire life, I would not make it home for Christmas Eve. Instead, we would open presents via Skype. Not how I imagined it, but as long as everyone was healthy and safe, this was as good as it would get. And instead of driving for miles and miles visiting family and friends, like we normally would over the Christmas period, we enjoyed some peace and quiet and long walks through the fields with Frank.
Yes, 2020 certainly wasn’t, what we hoped for. And it is easy to say it was the worst year ever. But was it really?
Of course, I would have loved more travels. See new places. Spend more time with friends and family. But overall, I don’t think my year was all bad.
We bought a house; we got an adorable puppy, we are both healthy and have enough food on the table (probably more than we should, one thing I gained for sure in 2020 is an inch or two on the waistline). We might have both been furloughed for quite some time, however neither of us lost their job. I had time to recover and heal after my near breakdown in January and spend some much-needed quality time with Mr T.
So, what are our travel plans for 2021? Truth to be told, we haven’t actually made any yet. Under ‘normal’ circumstances, we would have probably looked at another US road trip for September (to coincide with our 10th wedding anniversary). But whether or not long-distance travel is possible again by then remains to be seen. I am not getting my hopes up just yet.
Hopefully, we will be able to head to Germany at some point in the not-too-distant future to see our families. But other than that? We might just play it by ear. Maybe a few short UK trips. Let’s wait and see.
Tell me. How was 2020 for you? And have you made any plans for 2021 yet?