What’s Lockdown Like Across the Country? We’ve Got 20 First-Hand Accounts
Our writers coast to coast share what life is like in America now that travel is impossible.
What’s a travel writer supposed to do when you can’t even leave the house? Across the United States, our writers are stuck at home, unable to travel. Here’s what life is like under lockdown in America, from rural Vermont to the Great Lakes to Seattle. Interested in sharing your lockdown story with us? We’re collecting stories for an ongoing series here.
Photo by Zhifei Zhou on Unsplash
Jen Rose Smith writes about travel, the outdoors, and adventure from a home base in the Green Mountains of Vermont. You can read her work at www.jenrosesmith.com .
For the first time in a very long time, I’m at home in Vermont with no upcoming plans to travel. I live with my husband and two good friends in a house in the woods, and since we’re practicing social distancing, I’ve spent my free time rambling around on a vast network of nameless trails in my area that I’ve always wanted to get to know better.
I’m really comforted by getting out and seeing the changing season—this time of year, the amphibians wake up from hibernation and head for vernal pools, and all kinds of migratory birds are returning to the forest. For me, it offers some perspective to see the natural world rolling along, even as humans are starting to panic. Case in point: Right now, it’s maple syrup season in Vermont, because maple sap starts flowing every single spring, pandemic or no. On a recent run, I passed three sugar shacks boiling sap into maple syrup.
I’m also the COVID volunteer coordinator for my small town, organizing grocery deliveries and wellness check-ins for self-quarantined folks here. (In a town of 4,000, we’ve had about 100 volunteers sign up, and only one request for groceries so far.)
Jen Rose Smith
Joint Base McGuire Lakehurst Dix
WHERE: New Jersey
@kristyalpert is a freelance travel journalist with bylines in Cosmopolitan, Food & Wine, Men’s Health, Esquire, Fodor’s Travel, and more. Kristy has traveled to 84 countries on seven continents, but her biggest adventure has been her recent journey into the world of parenting.
As a mom to a seven-month-old baby and full-time freelance writer, the concept of social distancing wasn’t something too foreign for me. My day-to-day doesn’t really look too different than it did pre-COVID-19 (i.e. writing furiously during nap times, doing online workout classes before the sun comes up, etc.) aside from the fact that my husband and I have been shut in our home on a military base in New Jersey since March 12. It’s a strange time to be a military spouse, as, for the first time in a decade, my husband’s federally-mandated travel restrictions actually apply to me as well. We’ve both had to cancel trips (Hawaii, South Korea, Germany, Arkansas, Missouri, and Bermuda), and are in the process of negotiating an AirBnB cancellation for Washington D.C.
Despite the frustrations of canceling travel, it’s been a massive bonus to have my husband home this month since he was supposed to be gone for nearly two months straight. We’ve been helping our son learn to crawl, going on “mini-adventures” around the neighborhood, and having nightly jam sessions with the random instruments I’ve purchased on trips and his toys (those annoying rattles actually make great maracas).
I’ve been coping with my trip cancellations by taking advantage of the cheap airline tickets with little-to-no change fees, and have already booked trips for later in the year with the understanding that the tickets may very well have to turn into an airline credit if things don’t clear up quickly. Every day I am thankful for my health and my family, and the fact that we haven’t gone crazy…yet!
WHERE: New York
Kelsy Chauvin is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer specializing in LGBTQ travel and culture reporting. Kelsy’s work has been read in Fodor’s Travel, Passport, CNN Travel, Budget Travel, Afar, Condé Nast Traveler, and beyond.
I’ve been home a lot, way more than ever in the past decade-plus as a travel journalist. It’s strange to not have traveled for so long and to not hold any tickets to travel again, indefinitely. Three canceled trips in one month feels dismal, especially missing Budapest in spring and Washington D.C. for cherry-blossom season.
I’ve lost a few significant travel writing assignments already. As a freelance writer, that’s going to hurt for rent and bills, and it’ll only get worse. I keep wondering when landlords will temporarily reduce rent, even a small percentage, as a gesture of solidarity…alas, it’s not likely. Capitalism in a crisis is just one more force we must try to survive.
In the USA, I think we’re only in the early stages of the epidemic and the vast economic fallout that’s ahead. This is the worst thing ever to happen to most living humans. So I’m channeling my Depression-era ancestors and really trying to prepare for the worst-case scenario. I’ve always been conscientious about conserving and keeping emergency groceries, supplies, etc. It’s coming in handy.
On the bright side, my partner and I did a huge grocery shop 10 days ago and stocked our bar, because this is no time to break habits that soothe us. So I’ve been cooking every day, feeling like handling fresh food is a good way to connect with nature and farmers, plus helping our immune systems and our souls. Other indoor recreation is happening too–exercise, playing cards, organizing, and streaming cornball movies I’ve long avoided but are a fun way to remember normal, dumb life (like Failure to Launch ). Spontaneous karaoke and dancing have helped a lot, especially in the evenings over experimental cocktails.
Charyn Pfeuffer’s work has appeared in more than 100 outlets, including AARP, BravoTV, The Globe and Mail, Marie Claire, Playboy, Refinery29, and The Washington Post. She is the author of 101 Ways to Rock Solo Female Travel and 101 Ways to Rock Online Dating. Find her on Twitter at @charynpfeuffer or IG at @supergoodsex .
I’m currently sheltered-in-place in my apartment in Seattle, Washington, the original epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. Thankfully, I work from home and have for the past two decades, so work has been business as usual. I live with my rescue dog and have a private, contained patio space, so I can spend time safely outdoors. I’m OK with a lot of alone time and rarely get bored, so isolation hasn’t been an issue for me (yet).
The biggest challenge has been missing my friends and physical contact. I’m polyamorous and have multiple sweeties and not seeing them in person has been hard. I feel very fortunate to live in a safe space by myself (I cannot imagine doing this 24/7 with another human being), and have steady work that I love and a fantastic community I can connect with virtually. It’s been a nice break from my typically overbooked calendar to focus on myself and some projects I’ve been meaning to tackle. My anxiety levels have for sure increased with the uncertainty of COVID and how it will play out, but I’m trying to focus on the things I can control, and staying healthy is something I can work on, especially by staying home.
Sunny Fitzgerald ( www.thisissunny.com ) covers travel, sustainability, culture, health, and the unexpected and underrated. In addition to Fodor’s, you can find her work in National Geographic, The Washington Post, BBC, CNN, Lonely Planet, and elsewhere.
As travel writers, we are adept at adapting; we know that when you’re on the road, things rarely go as planned. Many of us also work from home, the road, the beach, a tent–really anywhere there’s wi-fi. We are steady under pressure. We are problem solvers, chameleons, adventurers. So in many ways, we tend to be super-skilled at adjusting to unexpected things that are thrown at us. But I think this pandemic and the subsequent global shutdown are next-level challenges for everyone.
Beyond the work-related upheaval of assignments canceled, entire publications closing up shop, and trying to pivot my writing to what is needed now (and then waking up the next day to see the news has changed again), like everyone else, I am also trying to stay safe and healthy, find my footing, and figure out how to exist in this new normal (who knew how much time could be consumed with sanitizing every item from a grocery run before putting them in the cupboards?).
My husband and I had just recently arrived in the U.S. after spending the better part of the last two years in immigration limbo (he is Jordanian, I am American). And now, like everyone, we’re in COVID-19 limbo. Our city (Honolulu) is operating on a “work home, stay home” similar to San Francisco’s shelter-in-place. We only go out of the house for groceries and exercise. All of my trips that were planned for this year are obviously canceled. Due to mandatory shutdowns, my husband lost the job he’d just begun. And we’ve both lost loved ones in the past week and been unable to attend their funerals and properly mourn them because we can’t travel now.
I’d be lying if I said all is well. But I am also trying to remain hopeful. Every day I go for a walk or jog near the beach (keeping a distance from other people, of course) and make a list of things I am grateful for and how I might contribute in a positive way through my work, even when it sometimes feels like everything is falling apart. The empty streets, parks, and beaches here are a bit eerie for a place that is usually buzzing with action. I know the lack of visitors will be devastating to the economy. But there’s also a sense of calm in these now-quiet places that feels quite like a sigh of relief…though I also realize it could be the quiet before the COVID-19 storm.
WHERE: New York
Bani Amor is a gender/queer travel writer who explores the relationships between race, place, and power. Their work on decolonizing travel culture has appeared in CNN Travel, Fodor’s, AFAR, and Teen Vogue, among other outlets. Follow them on Instagram at @baniamor.
I’m at home in New York where I live with some relatives. Thankfully, I returned home from a work trip *just* as things started getting real in the first week of March. As a freelancer who works from home and a disabled person who is housebound 97% of the time, my lifestyle has barely changed. I haven’t panicked, but I have been rather frustrated that all my important doctor’s appointments/procedures have been canceled (I had some guilt around this but quickly worked through that), that my family isn’t taking this seriously and I’m doing all the labor of cleaning and sanitizing, that many in my neighborhood are resuming business as usual, and that accessibility and care are suddenly prioritized when it affects abled people.
Photo by Brian Lundquist on Unsplash
Lauren Monitz is a freelance travel writer and influencer specializing in offbeat adventures and things you didn’t even know you wanted on your bucket list. You can follow the (mis)adventures on her blog www.thedownlo.com or on Instagram @lmonitz .
After having virtually three months of travel plans wiped, I’m back in Denver sheltering in place as I scramble to find projects to do from home to supplement income and avoid boredom. I run the social media accounts for a few CVBs/DMOs and we’ve had to change messaging on a dime to figure out what to say that’s aspirational enough be armchair travel and support the local businesses while still encouraging people to stay home. Like most Americans, I’ve run the gamut of emotions and have pretty much made it through the five stages of grief. Now I’m somewhere between dejected and acceptance but really, I’m just emotionally exhausted and ready for whatever the aftermath of this is.
WHERE: New York
Katherine Alex Beaven is a writer who has been self-isolating in Brooklyn, NY. See how she’s spending her days on Instagram @alex_keight .
Unfortunately, I have a handful of existing health conditions that make me more at-risk, specifically for catching the virus and also having a more severe, critical outcome. Both of my roommates are in the age group that is more likely to be carriers. After watching my one roommate go to the store every day, then come home and cough and sneeze frequently in the common spaces (and not wash her hands afterward), I started to feel less safe. When I tried to communicate this, she had a very aggressive, selfish reaction that showed me she had no interest in taking my health vulnerability and the heightened anxiety around it seriously. She wanted to do what she wanted to do more than she wanted to help keep me safe. People’s true colors come out in times of crisis.
I ended up leaving, taking as much of my things as I could walk with, to stay at my ex’s apartment. Luckily, we are good friends, but it’s still awkward, working is hard, and it’s difficult and disruptive not being in my own home at a time like this—but it’s so much better knowing I can trust who I am isolating with, that it’s someone who cares enough to make calls that go beyond what they might need to stay safe in order to help protect others. I am grateful. I’m not leaving the house much, except for essentials, though I’ll probably stop that this week as everything ramps up. It’s not worth it for me. Thankfully, there is a garden here where I can get some fresh air and sun.
Photo by Miltiadis on Unsplash
Julie Baumgardner is a freelance arts and culture journalist who oft can be found in far off locales. Julie’s work has been published in Bloomberg, Cultured, Fodor’s, New York Magazine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. Find her @juliewithab .
I’ve been away from home for two weeks now. I originally came up to my family’s country house to celebrate my mom’s birthday on March 14, and we (my parents and my husband) started to collectively realize that the international COVID-19 situation was escalating with New York being a primary locale for rising infections in the United States. Thus, we stayed. My husband and I took a clandestine trip back down to our apartment in Manhattan’s Chinatown, literally like thieves in the night, to grab all our essentials that included everything from our plants to heirloom jewelry to essential reads to pantry staples I had stocked up the week earlier when I started to get nervous about a forthcoming lockdown. We joked as we drove back that should someone break into our house, it already looked like we’d been raided and nothing good was left.
Though no one of us has exhibited any symptoms along the way, it’s been since March 14 since we’ve seen anyone except ourselves, minus a singular run to the grocery store. The lockdown certainly has impacted our lives: my two main journalism topics (travel and art) have come to a halt, while my husband runs a small business, spending 10-12 hours a day navigating his clients through these precarious times. In turn, I’ve helped launch an artists-for-artists online gallery (@quarantinegallery to follow/submit work) and spent a lot of time on the phone talking to friends and peers about how to navigate this.
Despite a truly uncertain future, and feeling a bit helpless in not being able to do more than be a vigilant citizen by self-quarantining, I think this is an amazing moment in our lives to reflect on what’s most important, to slow down, to connect to our loved ones and communities in ways that our accelerated pace of life often doesn’t afford. I am hoping that this is an inflection point to shift into new ways of living and being, especially as the meaning of work and means by which our global economy is constructed are put into question. Could this terrifying, catastrophic event be a harbinger of living more sustainably or circularly, and connected to our communities and less about ourselves? I certainly hope that a collective consciousness about what it means to be a citizen in society emerges during this time, and our politically and socially fraught last decade is put into perspective. Because if there’s one thing this illness reiterates is that no one—no human—is free from risk. We are bound together, inherently.
New York City
WHERE: New York
Cassandra is a New York City-based writer, guidebook author , and tour leader. She runs EscapingNY , a travel consultancy specializing in off-the-beaten-path travel around the world. When she’s not leading group trips to Cuba, Mexico, and Jordan, you can find her leading graffiti, food, and culture bicycle tours in New York City.
I’m on lockdown in New York City and though the social isolation sucks and though my travel writing and travel business have come to a grinding halt, I’m enjoying reconnecting with a quieter and more “normal” life that includes turning off my laptop at 6 p.m., making dinner every night, and doing puzzles on the weekend while listening to NPR. I have a hard time concentrating at home, but since cafes and libraries are closed, I’m forced to work from home. I bought some extra plants and fresh flowers to cheer up the apartment.
I won’t have much commissioned work after next week, so in addition to continuing to send out pitches, I’ll take the time to work on my travel company website to have content built up and ready to go when people start traveling again. I don’t do well with social isolation, so I’m going for regular bike rides in the park to get fresh air and sunshine. I also volunteer at a food co-op. We’re considered one of the essential resources that can stay open to serve the public, but we’ve lost members so I’ve taken on additional shifts to keep us open. I really enjoy stocking shelves and working the register since it allows me to just focus on the task at hand instead of worrying about work, relationships, and coronavirus.
Based in Boston, Leigh Harrington has been editing and writing about travel, lifestyle, culture and wellness for 20 years. You can find her work at www.lahlah-land.com .
We’re on lockdown here in Massachusetts. Businesses, restaurants, and schools are closed. Most professionals are working remotely. Having to stay home during the last few weeks has been a huge adjustment for my family. During the day, I’ve been keeping company with my seven-year-old daughter, doing science experiments (we made a volcano and cleaned some pennies), reading books, learning geography, and cooking easy dishes from other cultures (the Spanish dish patatas bravas, and brigadeiro chocolates popular in Brazil). We’ve played outside, planted some seeds, and watched movies together. We even took a field trip to the beach. I’ve been doing most of my writing at night, and, yeah, I’m more tired because of it. I think this exercise in social distancing has actually made us more social. Our eyes haven’t been glued to our phones; we’ve been outside together. And it’s not just us. We live on a main road, and I’ve seen so many people walking, jogging, riding bikes with their children or partner. Spending time together. It’s a good thing!
Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash
WHERE: Rhode Island
Robert Curley has been a freelance writer for more than 20 years, with a major concentration in travel and healthcare writing. In addition to working on Fodor’s Caribbean guidebooks, he’s written 100 Things to Do in Rhode Island Before You Die and will add 100 Things to Do in the Caribbean Before You Die in Fall 2020. You can see his work at www.honestraveler.com.
My COVID cage is relatively gilded: I’m locked down at home in Rhode Island in my lake house with a hot tub on the deck. As a self-employed, work-from-home writer, my basic routine hasn’t changed much at all, to be honest. Still working at the same desk and taking the same walks with the dog. Just fewer nights out, and no travel or work trips, obviously. On the plus side, my wife is home rather than being at UConn four days a week. So there’s always a silver lining I guess, as long as we stay healthy and safe.
Freelance travel writer Terry Ward lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband and two toddlers. Follow her @smokenotfire on Instagram and @TerryWardWriter on Twitter, and see more of her work on www.terry-ward.com.
For me, WFH is the norm when I’m not traveling (I’m usually on the road a few weeks out of every two months, both with and without my kids). So I’m used to being home a lot and in my comfy pants. What’s different now is that I have my two toddlers at home with me all day and there’s no escape hatch in my near future. We are pretty much on lockdown. I feel this is something we all have to do right now as responsible citizens of the world we love so much and hope to get back out to, exploring, as soon as possible.
The way I feel right now is worried, I won’t make light of it. I have too many friends on lockdown around the world who I’ve spoken to, so I know the situation and what is likely coming our way. It feels like when you’re on a flight and some bad turbulence won’t quit and the flight attendants are told, in no uncertain terms, to return to their seats. I’m ready to be back safely on the ground.
WHERE: New York
Stefanie Waldek is a Brooklyn-based writer specializing in travel, architecture, and design, with a particular interest in aviation, hotels, and midcentury chairs. In addition to contributing to Fodor’s, she writes for Architectural Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, Business Insider, House Beautiful, TripSavvy, and The Points Guy, among other publications. Visit her website for contact information and clips and follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @stefaniewaldek.
As a freelance writer, I’m fortunate in that I’m used to working from home—my apartment in Brooklyn—so my daily routine hasn’t changed too drastically under the stay-at-home order. I’m still able to go for walks in Prospect Park (while maintaining safe distances from others!), and my favorite restaurants are still delivering (I’m a terrible cook). But my work has been totally upended. I used to travel for work twice a month or so, and that’s obviously stopped completely. On top of that, my travel outlets have had to pivot their editorial directions to keep up with COVID-19 and the lack of travel, meaning that I’ve had to pivot my pitching strategy, too. I’m very fortunate to write about architecture and design in addition to travel, so I’ve been ramping up my efforts on those topics to make ends meet. It’s certainly a tough time for media, but I’m grateful that there’s still some work out there—my friends in hospitality are not so lucky, and my heart is broken for small business owners around the world.
Kim O’Donnel is a 20-plus year veteran of the food world, as a chef and writer. She is the author of three vegetable cookbooks. Based in Lancaster, Pa., she writes about food for LNP | Lancasteronline. Find her on Instagram @odonnelk or on Twitter @kimodonnel.
Our newsroom at Lancaster Online is now completely remote. I am doing a daily cooking series called Stay-Put Cooking with photos and videos shot on an iPhone. As I wrote last week, “there is something we can do while we ride out this unprecedented time in history. We can cook.” My husband is also working remotely and we take walks whenever we can. Guided meditation helps me get still and sleep at night.
Photo by Michael Sturgeon on Unsplash
Rose Lambert-Sluder is a freelance and fiction writer from Asheville, NC.
I’m self-isolating with a houseguest whose one-week visit may last months—whoops. (Fortunately, they’re delightful!) We’re working from home. We read the news compulsively. We go on hikes and keep six feet apart from the cacti. We hunt citrus and learn the names of wildflowers. We’re both deeply anxious but find that eating whole loaves of ciabatta really helps. We’re grateful for public lands and for everyone who can’t work from home because they’re keeping the collective wheels turning.
New York City
WHERE: New York
Sophie Friedman has been writing about travel since working on her first Fodor’s guidebook (China) in 2010. She’s passing lockdown in New York; follow her on Instagram @sophiefriedman for lots of cycling, rooftop views, and blossoming trees.
Like many people, I’m in New York. My permanent residence is in Manhattan, in a pretty dense neighborhood, but the streets are now a ghost town. I have never seen it so empty. Indeed I feel like I’ve stepped onto the set of I Am Legend . Cycling down East 10th Street recently, I heard actual birdsong and the sound of the breeze.
I am really fortunate that my lifestyle in New York has not been severely impacted. Yes, everything is closed, but we are so lucky that grocery stores are still open and well-stocked. I cycle everywhere so I can easily get around, and I live near a jogging path so I can exercise and maintain 6 feet of distance. I spend all my free time now planning for future travel, mapping out where I want to go, looking at train schedules, starting spreadsheets. It gives me something to look forward to. Without sounding like a complete tool, travel is my raison d’etre. So even though it’s a bit sad to plan trips for who knows how far into the future, I know I’ll travel again soon enough. Now that it’s warming up, I go up to my roof a lot and exercise or just read, and sometimes wave to people on neighboring rooftops.
Kim is a Boston-based food and travel writer, with credits in publications like the Boston Globe and U.S. News & World Report. She is also the author of Secret Boston: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure. More info on Kim and the book can be found at www.escapewithkim.com .
I work from home anyway, but normally my husband and daughter are not here with me during the day. We are all adjusting to our new reality. My husband is telecommuting and my college-age daughter is taking her junior year classes online. My daughter had to return home from Dublin, where she was doing a study-abroad program, so we are being extra-careful about staying away from people. We are getting groceries delivered once a week and each of us tries to go outside for at least an hour for exercise and fresh air.
Photo by Lance Anderson on Unsplash
Blue Ridge Mountains
WHERE: North Carolina
Cameron is a writer, educator, and editor who lives in New Orleans. Her work as a travel writer has been featured in Publisher’s Weekly and the Washington Post; you can learn more about her at www.cameronqtodd.com .
My husband and I drove out of New Orleans and up to his family’s cabin outside of Asheville, North Carolina, where we’re surrounded by national forest and social distancing is a given. Recently, I spent a year up here writing, and am pretty used to the isolation. We’re healthy, but keeping our distance from the rest of the (sparse) nearby population, because New Orleans has been such a hot spot for COVID-19. It’s pretty scary, and I worry about friends and family still down there. For now, I’m grateful for their health, for this space, and for FaceTime.
Photo by Darrell Moore on Unsplash
Based in Wisconsin, Kristine Hansen writes about food/drink, design and travel, and last year she published Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries (Globe Pequot Press). She’s currently researching and writing a travel guide to Wisconsin farms, which means looking at lots of Instagram photos of baby sheep born this spring and seedlings that farmers are starting now.
After successfully getting off a COVID-free Princess Cruises cruise ship on March 7, I’m working from home, which is nothing new. Four research trips were canceled for the next 60 days, including Tuscany and a town I’ve long wanted to visit (Asheville, North Carolina).
With all the extra time and to ease my anxiety about the future, I’m baking more, walking my Golden Retriever more, reading like crazy (The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton) to prepare for my two book clubs’ virtual meetings next month, conceptualizing how to hang this gorgeous tapestry I scored in Puerto Vallarta earlier this month, and spending a couple of hours every day developing story ideas about how we can still celebrate and explore our world…without actually going out into it.
Linda Cabasin was on staff at Fodor’s before becoming a freelance travel editor and writer. She travels to learn about the world and local culture, whether in places as close as Philadelphia or as far away as Cambodia. A contributing editor at Fathomaway.com, she shares her travels on Twitter and Instagram at @lcabasin .
I’m at home in New Jersey, a short train ride from NYC, but my trips into the city and anywhere else have stopped for the near future. We’re on lockdown. Luckily I have editing work and even some stories to write. In my spare time, I’ve worked on a committee from my synagogue to organize a 300-family mutual support group to share thoughts and help each other out. Thank goodness for Zoom.
Barbara is a freelance travel journalist and editor based in the Washington, DC, area. See more at www.barbaranoekennedy.com .
My husband and I are based at our home in Arlington, VA. All nonessential businesses have closed, all parks and recreational venues have closed, and we’re not supposed to congregate in groups. My day-to-day hasn’t changed that much, however, since I started working from home about four years ago. I’m thankful that I still have lots of work. That said, I miss socializing with friends, I miss body combat and yoga at the gym, and I miss traveling! So far I’ve missed two trips. I will be missing Normandy at the end of April. And I will be missing going to visit my parents in California in May. I also worry about our kids at the Lord’s Mountain Orphanage in Zambia. COVID-19 just hit the country and the kids have been asked to disperse from the orphanage for the time being to live with distant family members. I can’t wait to return and hold each one of them in my arms.
The only winner is our cat Emme, who now has someone all day long to open-and-shut-and-open-and-shut the back door for her. She’s lucky because she has all the freedom in the world!
Jillian is a Philly fan through and through who has spent the bulk of her career writing about all of the great things the city has to offer. She is a full-time freelance writer, editor and proofreader for a range of exciting clients. Visit her website, www.jillian-wilson.com , to learn more or get in touch.
I was laid off from my full-time writing job and had to transition into a full-time freelance writer and editor role amid COVID-19. Trying to do this while the world is so uneasy is proving to be difficult, but I’m managing and using it as an excuse to learn new skills and industries. It’s always scary to be in a job transition, but it’s especially scary during these times. I’m anxious here and there, but overall optimistic and so grateful for my freelance contracts that I can easily do from my couch—all of Philadelphia is on “stay at home” orders.
Having worked in the travel industry for her entire adult life, Carole is a travel/tourism expert. Her writing can be seen in Fodors.com, CNN Travel. AFAR, Cruise Industry News, Trivago Magazine easyJet Traveller, and Unearth, among others. She owns the tour company Drop Me Anywhere Tours for Women, runs the blog of the same name (www.dropmeanywhere.com), and is also a speaker on subjects including travel/tourism, female empowerment, and volunteering.
I am a geographically fluid travel journalist. I lived most of this last year in Budapest and had just renewed my visa to stay and write about Hungary and other parts of Europe before heading to the U.S. for some conferences, pet sitting, and a long-planned road trip I’d hoped to collect several stories from. I was seven days into my planned 21-day road trip when I had to drive 12 hours to Michigan where I grew up and have friends and family. I stayed with a friend for a few days and am now at some friends’ cottage on Lake Huron as they are staying put in Florida where they were visiting their daughter. Michigan is on lockdown.
I’m struggling a bit as my brother is the only infectious disease doctor at one of the hospitals here in Michigan. I’m hearing about the reality of their work and the shortages of masks first-hand. And of course, I’m worried about his health.
The tour company which I’d finally gotten opened is now on hold. And I can’t get back to Budapest. Hopefully being here in nature will improve my mood.
Besides some stories I’ve been commissioned to write (and those commissions are dwindling), I plan to work on designing two Christmas Market Tours for my tour company. We’ll all need a great vacation after this and Christmas Markets in Germany and Austria are truly magical. And people might have some money to spend by November and December.
WHERE: New York
Devorah Lev-Tov is a freelance food and travel writer based in Brooklyn who travels the world, bite by bite. She has been published in Fodor’s, National Geographic, Travel + Leisure, Saveur, Afar, and more.
I’m currently on pause in Brooklyn. We have been indoors earlier than other New Yorkers because my husband had a possible exposure at his office, so we’ve been self-quarantined with our son since March 12. When we thought he was exposed, he wore gloves in the apartment and we tried not to touch him, which was very hard to explain to a 4-year-old. Thankfully, we only had 3 days like that before we got the negative test result of the person he had interacted with. Our apartment is small, so it’s been difficult for all of us to be here. My husband has turned our bedroom into an office and I am attempting to get some work done while also caring for my son. I have less time to write and work but am grateful for my husband’s full-time job and insurance. There are good moments and bad, but we feel lucky to be healthy and together. We get out to walk our dog and see mostly empty streets…and on sunny days there seem to be a lot of people outside.
Photo by berenice melis on Unsplash
Margot Bigg is a travel journalist with a big focus on India. She’s a long-time Fodor’s contributor and has worked on both the India and Oregon guidebooks for many years. You can see Margot’s work at www.margotbigg.com .
I spend so much of my life on the road that I don’t always keep a long-term residence (storage units don’t count!), but funnily enough, I had carved out this year to spend more time connecting with my community in Portland. After my most recent trip (to Ethiopia), I signed a lease for a little one-bedroom and hunkered down. We are now on lockdown.
Unfortunately, the spread of the novel coronavirus has caused my main publications, who provided the bulk of my income, to cut freelancers out, and I’ve had to cancel a few trips that would have led to more stories and income. This is the story for most people in our field.
Emotionally, these times have been trying. To keep calm and mentally healthy, I do try to focus on the silver linings. My hope is that these times will help us better understand that we, and by “we” I mean humanity, are inextricably linked, one symbiotic whole in which we each play a tiny and significant role. I hope that these times highlight the fact that every person deserves the basics to flourish, including access to healthcare, food, shelter, and community. I hope this teaches us to value and appreciate our experiences, our relationships with others, and our very lives, because everything on this planet, except maybe love, is ephemeral.