Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there hasn't been a lot of travel this year outside the house, let outside the country. Like many, we have been staying home as much as possible, working and taking classes remotely, and postponing gatherings with extended family and friends. Early in February 2020, however -- without realizing the scope of the impending crisis -- we embarked on a trip to the other side of the globe, all the way to Thailand. At the time, we knew about the new viral threat and seriously considered cancelling our trip, but cases of the covid variant reported outside of China were still relatively low and there were no travel restrictions on U.S. travelers. Ultimately, we decided to prepare as best we could and go for it. Little did we know it would be the final weeks before the world changed forever.
World's Longest Non-stop Flight
With one suitcase dedicated almost entirely to masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes, our family of five boarded the world's longest non-stop flight from Newark to Singapore (9,537 miles; 18h 30m), with a connecting flight to Bangkok (876 miles; 2h 30m). [Watch the globe spanning flight path in the inflight video we recorded below.]
A year earlier when we planned this trip we assumed the most difficult part would be the length of the flight -- but we were wrong. Given the amount of time our kids can play video games and watch TV, mixing in some sleep and several meals was not a big stretch for Generation Z. For myself, it was a welcome chance to be still -- sort of like being in a sensory deprivation chamber with room service. I read, napped, and caught up on the latest movie releases. We've had some rough flights with the kids, but this wasn't one of them. In fact I was downright relaxed and optimistic as we flew into the warm skies over Singapore's shipping lanes.
Flying into an Emerging COVID Crisis
On landing, however, it became quite clear that travel had become serious business and that our main source of stress would not be the length of the journey, but the possibility of being exposed to covid. Although it was still early days, Southeast Asia was among the first regions to bear the brunt of the virus. Temperature checks, masks, and hand sanitizing stations seem normal to us all now, but when we landed in Singapore last February the necessary precautions were both unnerving and reassuring at the same time. Clearly, concern for health and safety was going to be an integral part of the entire trip. Where possible, we avoided crowds and public transportation and spend most of our time outside of the city.
Exploring the Beauty of Thailand
I'll write in more detail about our trip in later posts, but in sum-- thankfully -- the travel gods were with us and once we had safely arrived in Thailand we had one of our best family adventures ever. We explored Bangkok's temples, feed elephants in a remote jungle camp, paddled canoes through mangrove forests with monkeys overhead, and explored limestone cliffs along the coast of Krabi, We didn't realize it at the time, but memories of those sun-filled days of adventure would help get us through the darkest days of 2020.
While we were fortunate to have come through our trip and the rest of 2020 without COVID catching up with us, we did not escape the year unscathed. As we all struggle to recover and find some normalcy in our lives again, our trip to Thailand remains a sliver in time where we were blissfully unaware of all the ways life could unravel. Until travel is possible again, we look back in awe on a time when it was still safe to connect with the world offscreen. Hopefully in 2021 we will all get there again. Until then stay safe and well!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect those of any of the business entities mentioned. We did not receive any compensation, benefits, or freebies from any vendors during this trip. All rights reserved to GoKidTrips.com (c) 2020.
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