We do not usually do Day 0 posts and bore you all with our mundane lives and the preparation for our trips, we normally just jump straight into the good stuff, so if that is what you are after then go right ahead to day 1 of our December 2021 New York Christmas Trip.
But normal is not a word we apply much to the last few years and the incredibly awkward and demanding situation surrounding this trip needs to be addressed.
This trip has been in the making for quite a while. Originally we planned to visit New York over New Year in 2020, but planning for this ran well into 2019. It was all part of our grand plan for 2020 which would see us visit 10 States, hundreds of landmarks, and attractions and really take this blog up to a whole new level. As final preparations for the first trip in 2020 were being carried out, the news of the virus began circulating.
We think we all know what happens from here. Borders closed, Flights were grounded and our blog vanished into a hole of irrelevance as our travel plans were all canceled! It was a real Dark time and we soldiered through like most doing what we could to keep our heads up. Personally, the dream job of a Travel Writer Died in the Pandemic, and instead, I was demoted to a Supermarket Delivery Driver, Ignored by the U.K. government, I just took the work I could get while praying for a return to normality.
2020, was a complete write-off, the four trips we had booked became 0. We got two refunds on the biggest costliest trips but kept some trips open as Travel Vouchers, hoping for a time we could use them. We re-booked these trips more times than we care to remembermer, constantly being denied the chance to travel and having our hopes dashed repeatedly.
It was not all gloom and doom and we managed some European travel during this time. We visited Family in Cyprus in 2020 and bagged a last-minute escape to Mallorca, Spain in the summer of 2021, before finally hitting Iceland hard in October 2021. But our hearts (and Business) lie in America and the closed borders were a serious drag!
Finally, in October the Reopening Date was announced and the borders were finally opening, Our trip was booked for the 1st of November and the borders would open on the 8th…crap.
After some immense juggling and changing around holidays and Cat Sitting Cover, we jumped on the phone to Virgin for a 4 Hour hold time to rearrange the trip. New Dates, 1st December – 8th December 2021…We were FINALLY on.
This was really exciting and the Joy of traveling was back, but the euphoria didn’t last long. You see, Traveling within a Pandemic is STRESSFUL. It is filled with uncertainty and possible horrific consequences.
We had the feeling the only thing really stopping us now was a Positive Covid Test that would through a huge spanner in the works, but the truth was far more complicated.
You see everyone focuses on the testing. They see it as a hurdle and a huge problem, but it’s not actually testing Positive that’s the real issue here, it’s contracting the Virus! While many will say things like “I am not Scared of the Virus” They will point to being fit and young etc… But really, NO ONE wants to travel sick, and boarding a Transatlantic flight while infected with any Virus is really selfish thing to do.
So we did everything we could to NOT catch Covid before our travel Dates. This means a two-week almost Quarantine, and any contacts being very limited, distanced, and safe. It is a small price to pay.
Still the uncertainty of the last 20-Months of closed borders never really went away and there was always a nagging feeling that things would go south again. This meant lots of planning and organizing was left until the last week. And then a week out the nightmare became a reality…Omnicron
Suddenly the small amount of certainty we had was smashed. The picture was insanely fast-moving and we knew more restrictions were on the way, how soon and how severe were the only questions. But with the doors being slammed shut on certain countries, mainly South Africa, at present, the worry shot through the roof!
The final days were now no longer a flurry of last-minute planning but simply a blur of worry and concern as we watched the story develop news cycle after News Cycle. Finally, the restrictions started to land, but they seemed to be reasonable and mainly related to returning home after the trip. We had to be vaccinated and have a test 3 days before the trip, (later reduced to 1 day) to enter the U.S but the return requirements were tightened to needing a PCR test on Day-2 and the need for quarantine until we got results. A bit of a problem but solvable. (during the trip this changed again to us needing a pre-departure test too before we left NYC)
So when we went for our Test on Monday (flying Wednesday) it looked like things were ok. Only as I waited to pick Kate up from work before the test, News Broke of an imminent announcement from the White House. My stomach turned and that familiar dread washed over us. Would we be thwarted at the final hurdle…
…no, the announcement was pretty much a damp squib, at least as far as Travel was concerned and we were greenlit for the Trip. We got our test and waited nervously for the result. Negative, as expected, we had been super careful.
Now we hit the final snag: as a result of the ever-growing uncertainty, we really hadn’t planned everything that well, and we still had to pack. Oops, time to get our asses in gear as we were looking likely to be NYC Inbound in the next few days…
Live Blog – Trip Report
Day 1 – Virgin Atlantic London Heathrow to New York City >>>