My trip of the year got cancelled because of the pandemic. Did yours get cancelled too?
Frustration. Sadness. Disappointment. I was flooded and inundated with those feelings as I was forced to cancel my trip to Japan just a few days before our outbound flight.
My travel buddy and I were so excited about the trip. We planned the trip seven months in advance so that we could get the right time off. We carefully chose the end of March and the start of April to maximise our chances of seeing the cherry blossom. We paid for our flights, drew up an itinerary, booked our accommodation, sorted out our overseas cards, bought the Japan rail pass, ordered the Japan yen, learnt about the culture and looked up the places we wanted to go. Equally importantly, we told all our friends and family about the trip. We did EVERYTHING that could be possibly done to prepare for the trip. We were so looking forward to the trip. It was our trip of the year. We were meant to go there.
Ten days before the flight, the situation started to worsen yet we remained optimistic and keen to go. We even joked that it would be a good time to go as everything was cheaper and no one would be there to photobomb us.
The next few days saw the situation escalate quickly with the number of confirmed cases and deaths soaring. Covid-19 was on the front page of every newspaper and everyone was talking non-stop about it. Toilet rolls, hand sanitisers and anti-bacterial products suddenly became luxury items that you would have to queue outside the shop early in the morning to get hold of. Supermarkets looked like they had been raided as everyone stockpiled everything that they could possibly grab. Everywhere else in Europe also seemed to be going downhill without a functioning brake. It was not looking good.
Denmark announced the closure of their borders soon afterwards. We frantically searched to see if the airport was still open as we were going to transit in Copenhagen. A few hours later, the airline provided an update and advised that the Danish authorities still allowed passengers that needed to transit. We felt a huge relief.
One or two days later, the airline announced the plans to halt their operation due to non-existent demand and published a list of cancelled of flights. We cried inside while looking through the list. Even though our flights were still confirmed, the thought of abandoning the trip loomed large in our mind. My heart sank.
Then came the news from the FCO. All non-essential overseas travels were advised against as the situation was getting out of hand. I relentlessly scrolled down my phone and read numerous articles online trying to wrap my head around 'what does it mean for us?'. Does it mean that all flights out of the UK would be cancelled? Does it mean that the UK would be closing its borders? Does it mean that we could still travel but our insurance would be invalidated? Would we be safe in Japan? What would happen if we got stranded in Japan? What would happen if we got infected over there?
The more I read, the more I realised that the tide was going against us and as much as we wanted to go, we decided to cancel the trip. We were too fed up with the emotional roller coaster that we had been on and we were convinced that it would only get much worse before it would get better. It was the right call. I knew it in my heart. Yet it was still a hard call to make. You see, I prepared for a lot of things for the trip but the one thing I didn't prepare for was to cancel it. It wasn't just about the money we paid, it was about the planning, the investment of our time and effort. All that excitement and expectations that got built up. When they got shattered, we became shaken.
My trips to Europe in April and May were cancelled shortly afterward. It didn't sting as much though.
It took me some time to come to terms with it. There were still moments that I wished things had been different. I know we are not the only ones that have been affected by the situation. We're luckier than many others who have had to cancel their weddings, honeymoon, important life events or are still stranded overseas. And we are definitely luckier than those who are fighting for their life and those who've lost their loved ones. So I've told myself that if we come out of the situation safe and sound, we'll count ourselves as the blessed ones. And this is just a setback. We'll see cherry blossom, sit on the bullet trains and find Pikachu mascots in Japan one day.
Did your travels get disrupted or cancelled because of the pandemic too? Share your stories and how you were affected by it