MSome globetrotters are not deterred from their travel plans by Corona. Many have even done very well, for example in countries like Australia or New Zealand, which have the virus under control and have returned to a relative normalcy – in some cases without any mask requirement.
Travelers report on road trips, life in the outback and “the time of their life”. But also of doubts and the impossibility of making plans. We spoke to globetrotters and backpackers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Australia: a better location than Germany
Nicole Pern from Unna in the Ruhr area had been in Australia for a while when suddenly Corona struck and mixed up her plans. After graduating from high school, she came Down Under with a visa for a vacation work stay, worked in Sydney, then on a farm and also traveled across the country.
Despite the pandemic, the 20-year-old decided to stay. “It was difficult because the situation was very difficult to assess, but objectively speaking, the situation was much better compared to Germany.” In addition, the costs for flights rose massively at the time.
Nicole says she’s a little homesick now. Sometimes she just misses “the comfort in Germany and not always being ‘on the move'”. But the dramatic corona situation in Germany scares them off.
“In Australia, especially here in Perth, all options are open to me. I have never worn a mask before and have never been to such big festivals as here,” she says. So did everything right? “Germans may not understand that, but 2020 was the best year of my life!”
Line Sophia Schallmayer is currently in Kundabung on the east coast. The 21-year-old from Frankfurt had just landed in Australia when the virus emerged in March. Actually, she would have loved to fly home straight away.
“But that wasn’t feasible, flights were priceless and hardly available,” she says. “The first few weeks I felt a little like I was stuck.” But then the Hessian made the best of the situation. “I wasn’t able to travel as much as originally planned, but I learned and experienced a lot this year.”
She has traveled the east coast from Sydney up to tropical Cairns, and was also able to marvel at Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the red heart of Australia. Before going home to Germany in March, she wanted to go to the west coast for the next few weeks. Because of the recent Corona outbreak in Sydney, many inner Australian borders have been closed again.
“Australia was a constant up and down. I struggled with myself a lot and had extremely difficult times where I totally questioned myself and the whole trip,” admits Line. And your conclusion? “The best thing was that you are never alone and meet so many fantastic people!”
The 30-year-old Carina Adamik from Recklinghausen is currently in Perth and has been in the country for two years with a working holiday visa. The occupational therapist canceled a trip to Germany planned for 2020 to see the family again. “Due to Corona I decided to stay in Australia.”
When the virus broke out, she was working on a cattle ranch in the outback. “I didn’t just want to give up.” She went on a road trip, “up and down the west coast”. The virus has hardly changed her trip – also because she could spend a lot of time in the isolated outback. “I would definitely do it again!”
New Zealand: Backpackers were allowed to stay
Sascha Seib (29) and his girlfriend Claudia Tran Ngoc (29) from Gotha are currently on the Abel Tasman Coast Track on the South Island of the Pacific state. The Thuringians arrived in New Zealand in February 2020 – shortly before the first lockdown in the country. By then the two had already found work in a vineyard in Martinborough.
“At first I was shocked and thought we had to leave. But then we got the information that backpackers can stay if they want, ”says Sascha. The lockdown was tough, but necessary. “As you can see now, life in New Zealand is almost back to normal.”
Claudia also says that returning to Germany was not an option. “You only get a working holiday visa once in your life and only before you are 30 years old. I would never have gotten such a chance again. ”Their visas are valid until August, which is how long the two of them definitely want to continue traveling across the country.
“But I haven’t planned anything yet because the pandemic is constantly changing everything, including the plans.” The trip is one big adventure. Sascha adds: “When we have toured the South Island, we see what it looks like in Germany – and only then decide what to do next.”
Mexico: Don’t be afraid of Corona
Mark Hegedüs is currently traveling in Mexico, the 44-year-old previously traveled to Costa Rica. “Apart from the fact that you sometimes have to wear a mask and often use disinfectant gel, not much has changed in my opinion,” says the native Hungarian who lived in Vienna for a long time. Overall, he has been traveling in Latin America since 2014 and has now got to know almost every country in the region.
Hegedüs is not afraid of being infected with the coronavirus. “I feel fully fit, eat healthy and have my health insurance,” he says. When entering Costa Rica, he had to present health insurance that also covers treatment for Covid-19. “I would expect something like that from the other countries, too, then you could travel almost anywhere and with reasonable problems,” he says.
At the beginning of the pandemic in Latin America, there were repeated reports that foreign tourists were being attacked because they were seen as a potential source of infection. Hegedüs has not had any bad experiences so far. “But on the contrary. Everyone in Costa Rica was happy about my visit, ”he says. “I often received upgrades for booked rooms without request and was warmly welcomed in the national parks.”
Africa: On a world tour in a Mercedes Sprinter
The retired Swiss couple Heidi and Werner Gloor has been on a world tour with a Mercedes Sprinter since February 2019, currently in Africa. “Why Africa? We thought: let’s start with a more difficult continent ”, say the two. Corona has led to some plan changes – but the virus has not unsettled the couple.
“Flying home was never an issue,” they both emphasize. Instead, they decided to settle on a farm in Tanzania – where they were in spring 2020 – for a few months. There they would have had “the time of our lives”.
When the borders gradually opened again, the couple from the canton of Obwalden set off with their motorhome. They spent Christmas and New Year in Namibia in southwest Africa. “Of course the carefree traveling without tests is over,” say Heidi and Werner Gloor. They are now moving more slowly and consciously.
But they are optimistic: “Since our trip has no time limit, visas are easily extended due to Covid and there are beautiful remote regions to discover in every country, we are not too worried.”
Read here what WELT columnist Martin Lewicki experiences on his world tour in times of Corona.