They could have packed up and gone home. But a sense of adventure and the ability to change plans last minute is certainly a pre-requisite for a globetrotter, and several decided to see out the pandemic while still on the road regardless of the twists and turns.
Sascha Seib and his girlfriend, Claudia Tran Ngoc, from Germany found themselves in New Zealand in February 2020, shortly before the first lockdown there, but by then had already found work on a vineyard.
”At first I was shocked and thought we would have to leave. But we received information that backpackers could stay if they want to, ” says Seib. Now, life is back to normal in New Zealand.
Ngoc also says that returning to Germany was not an option. “You only get a working visa once in a lifetime, and only before you’re 30 years old, ” she says.
“I would never have such a chance again.”
They plan to keep travelling and see what things are like in Germany after they’ve ticked off a few destinations. Then they’ll decide what to do next.
“Everything keeps changing with the pandemic, ” says Seib.
Mark Hegedues, a 44-year-old Hungarian man, has been travelling around Latin America since 2014. At the moment he’s landed in Mexico, but before that he had been in Costa Rica.
“Apart from having to wear a mask and use hand sanitiser regularly, nothing’s really changed, ” says Hegedues, who adds that he’s not afraid of getting infected.
“I feel totally fit, eat healthily and have health insurance, ” he says. Costa Rica required him to show that he had insurance that covers Covid-19 treatment in order to be allowed into the country.
“I almost expect something like that from other countries, then people could travel almost anywhere and, to some extent, without any problems, ” says Hegedues, who had lived in Vienna for many years.
Nicole Pern, from Germany, had already been in Australia for a while on a working holiday visa when the pandemic hit. The 20-year-old decided to stay, even though she’s a little homesick these days.
“It was difficult, because it was hard to judge the situation, but objectively speaking, the situation here compared to Germany is much better, ” she says. The rising prices of flights was also a factor.
“In Australia, especially here in Perth, all options are open to me, I’ve never had to wear a mask and was never at such large festivals as here, ” she says, adding that 2020 was the “best year of my life”.
Another German woman, Carina Adamik, who’s been in the country for two years, barely noticed that a pandemic had broken out because she was working on a cattle farm in Australia’s famous outback. Travelling up and down the west coast, she says, her plans hadn’t changed much due to the coronavirus, saying she spent lots of time in isolated wilderness.
“I would definitely do it again!” says the 30-year-old Adamik.
Retired Swiss couple Heidi and Werner Gloor have been travelling the world in a Mercedes Sprinter since February 2019 and are currently in Africa. The pandemic has forced them to change some plans, but they haven’t been persuaded to give up their adventure.
“Flying home was never on the cards, ” say both. Instead they decided to stay in Tanzania for a few months on a farm before setting off for Namibia in their home on wheels once borders gradually open again.
“Of course, the carefree travelling without the need for tests is (in the) past, ” they say. Now it’s about going to their destination much slower and more consciously.
“Since our trip is unlimited time-wise, visas are easily extended due to the coronavirus and we can discover all the beautiful remote regions in every country, ” says the pair. – dpa