How I found traveling during the pandemic. Flying between the controlled interstate borders in Australia.
FIRST OF ALL, HAPPY NEW YEAR
Hello, 2021. Oh lordy, have I been putting off writing this blog post! haha For no other reason that I’d put it on my list, somewhere under a few other things I needed to get done and so far they are only partially finished. Nevertheless, here I am, wanting to kick off my blog posts for a fresh new year. And we are all really wanting a fresh new year. With fresh new starts and positive changes. Will we get them? Time alone will tell. In the meantime, I am back after a long break, feeling more in tune with what I want to achieve this year and more encouraged than I felt a month ago.
During the past few weeks, I managed to fly home to Adelaide, South Australia. It was a chance for me to catch up with family, take a break and spend time thinking less about my to-do lists and pressures of my day to day schedule. Instead, I read more, walked more and talked with my family. Though it didn’t all go according to plan, I was so grateful that the Interstate border controls allowed me to fly in and out safely.
TRAVELING DURING THE PANDEMIC
For those who are curious, here is a little about how I found traveling during the pandemic. I flew on Christmas morning, the first flight out of Perth, arriving in Adelaide in time for lunch. I’ve taken this same flight in previous years and found it to be a cheerful day to fly. This time things were noticeably different, of course. Gone were the Christmas wishes and general cheer. Fine by me, I just wanted to get home.
MASKS WEREN’T POPULAR
On the flight, we were given a mask and hand sanitiser wipes. I used both. Funnily, there was no set rule about wearing the masks. Over the loudspeaker the head stewardess said they were available should you wish to wear a mask. However, the air hostesses were telling people they had to wear them. A lot of passengers refused to. I’d say three quarters of the passengers refused to wear them.
SOCIAL DISTANCING DIDN’T EXIST
Before boarding, the airport terminal was spaced out so everyone had at least 1.5m between them. On the plane, I was seated next to a window with a passenger next to me. She moved when it was clear there was no other passenger due to sit in our row. Leaving a space between us. In the rows around me, it was mostly the same but the flight was more full than I’d expected.
Upon disembarking, everyone got up as usual eager to rush off the plane. Crowding together in the aisle and all the way up the airbridge. In the airport terminal, a line halted passengers from leaving. No attempts were made at all to stay spaced at a 1.5m distance, I had people pushing up behind me. It being Christmas day, there were family members waiting to greet loved ones in the terminals and news crews filming both the lines and interviewing people reuniting. I was happy to hide behind my mask.
THE POLICE CLEARANCE HOLD UP
Before traveling to South Australia, I’d completed a mandatory police clearance. Assuming other passengers had done the same, we were due to show this clearance information to the row of police officers seated behind desks in the airport terminal. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that the majority of passengers had not thought to check if they needed to do this, let alone complete the forms. Essentially, this meant that most people were having to complete the forms with the police officers upon arrival, holding up the line. Every passenger needed an individual form completed and approved, children and all. Naturally, this made leaving the terminal a slow process.
I’d say a quarter of the passengers were wearing masks and the rest had no clue what was going on. After the wait (over an hour), I made it to the counter, showed my clearance details, answered some questions, and made it out in thirty seconds. Collecting my luggage, I waited till I was outside away from anyone before removing my mask.
THE DIFFERENCES A FEW WEEKS MAKE
Upon returning to Perth, some three weeks or so later, a new rule had been put in place that masks are mandatory in all Australian airports. However, the distancing rules seemed to not be enforced. On my return flight the only passengers I noticed not wearing the masks were hyped-up children. Again, I had people pushing into me in the lines upon disembarking the plane. Some definitely weren’t thinking of the pandemic guidelines at all. But the border control was handled much better on my return to Western Australia. The mandatory ‘G2G’ pass had clearly been filled out by all passengers and we cleared the lines quicker, with fewer people around and no additional people being allowed into the airport terminal.
All in all, not going into my specific experiences with some colourful characters seated around me on my flights (face tattoos, noisy dance mum’s + daughters and all), it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t love that the people sitting next to and behind me were sniffling, as clearly you are repeatedly told not to travel if you have a cold or are feeling unwell. Not sure how they passed the temperature checks.
WHY I CUT MY TRIP SHORT
I was just glad to have made it in and out safely. I’d actually planned to stay longer again but decided to cut my trip short. The flight prices doubled and began selling out. I figured I’d had a good run and didn’t want to risk being unable to come back to Western Australia. The state is known for enforcing the strictest of laws, taking no chances. They have gone over 9 months without any community Covid-19 cases so I’d say it’s working for them.
I had also wanted to travel to see my best friend Irene who lives in Tasmania after she decided to cancel her planned trip to meet up in South Australia. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any direct flights that didn’t stop over in a state considered to be high risk, so I thought it best not to go. If I’d gone all that way safely but had flown via a considered risk airport, chances are the border control could have refused my re-entry back into Western Australia.
GET THE LOOK
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By the way, these photos and this outfit aren’t really related to today’s blog post. I packed this handbag and shoes on my trip but that’s about it. Oh, haha, given some of my experiences, my face underneath my mask may have looked about the same as I do here. Little enthusiasm and lots of quiet patience. I jest a little, as I felt perfectly safe while traveling in spite of some of the behaviours of people around me. I’d say I was surrounded by people who hadn’t really all put in the effort to read Government health and travel warnings nor act according to the guidelines.
HOW ARE YOU FEELING HEADING INTO 2021?
My plan wasn’t actually to write this pandemic travel blog post at all. Far from it. This blog post was meant to share some of my 2021 plans and to generally check in with you! However, as soon as I sat down to write, this pandemic story just flew out. I guess, it has felt like it’s been a while now since I’ve been able to share any interesting personal experiences. 2020 felt like it just kept going. Head down, I kept busy. The break over the last few weeks allowed me to check back in with what I want to achieve and how I want to share with you in this new year. I’m pretty excited about it all! So, I’ll be back soon to share more.
In the meantime, make sure to follow along on my Instagram @inspiringwit. If Pinterest is more your style, I’ve been pinning SO much lately! I always share fashion, beauty and home decor inspiration. Coming up, I have some really exciting home decor updates, so I’ve been pinning more of those than ever!
How was your Christmas and New Year? Please let me know what you got up to in the comments below. Have you also traveled during the pandemic? How was your experience? Any similarities? I’d love to hear how you found it. Please let us know below.