Pandemic travel options: Thinking out loud

view from a plane over manila, philippines

Where can we travel without time and financial limitations such as quarantines and COVID tests?

With American passports coming from the Philippines, it looks like these countries offer us easy pandemic travel options:

  • Egypt
  • Turkey
  • Pakistan
  • Mexico
  • several Caribbean nations

And that’s about it.

We are either banned, or restricted upon entry as Americans with a recent travel history in the Philippines.

I know this thanks to a cool tool that tracks the border status of nearly every nation on Earth. It’s such an amazing launch point for information, we have it on our COVID-19 resources page.

Then, I cross check that with information on the U.S. State Department website. Next, I read the latest news about border restrictions, from sources inside each country, if possible, or Reuters or the Associated Press.

So, from that list, we have options.

Pandemic travel options

I dream of Egypt – what traveler doesn’t?

We almost went to Turkey in 2018 when we were in Greece. But it made more budget sense for us to skip it and come to Southeast Asia until we were ready for the Middle East.

Also, we have a Pakistani friend who’s tempted us with his tales of sites and culture from his homeland. That would put us closer to India – a country I want to experience as a slow traveler before the world blows up, if possible.

Is it wise – or budget friendly – to go to any of those three countries right now? During a pandemic? Part of me says ‘why not’ because Life is Now.

Although I love Mexico, we already spent the better part of two years there, and there’s so much of the world still to see. (Our travel history had been growing steadily through slow travel, until ‘Rona stomped that out.)

None of the Caribbean nations interest us at this point. We have beautiful beaches right here in the Philippines, and we’ve been on great beaches for the better part of the last 20 months.

Of course, we could always sit tight longer in the Philippines, as long as we keep extending our visas and paying roughly the equivalent to $1 a day for the privilege of being here. (By the way, the picture at the top of the page is of Manila from our flight to Cebu. We haven’t spent any time in Manila… yet.)

Neither Tedly or I (or Mom Diane, as far as I know) wants to go back to the United States of America at this point in time.

Budget constraints

Yes, we have pandemic travel options. But they also are expensive. Even without quarantines and testing at our own expense in those countries outlined above, it would still cost us a bit of money to get there.

Airfare for long-range travel is – at this time, from here – rather expensive. And also risky: flights can be canceled at any time, borders closed at a moment’s notice where they previously were not.

If that were to happen, that would really eat up our budget.

The truth of the matter is we have to keep in mind future travel is likely to be more expensive in many ways than in the past. And we will budget accordingly now so we can keep realizing our lifelong dream of traveling the world.

No longer travel options for 2020

As the Universe will have it, we won’t be going to Malaysia this year, as we had planned. We hope to get there in 2021. I have friends to see in Penang, and also there is a great oncologist group I like in a hospital chain in Malaysia.

We could push for a medical visa because of my breast cancer checkups and previous visits as a medical tourist. A friend gave me contact information of someone to work with, and I also have the ‘medical tourist’ desk at the hospital chain.

And really, my previous cancer is the elephant in the room that affects our travel options.

Breast cancer checkup: elephant in the room

I will share with you that I’m not sure what I will do about my annual exam. Maybe I’ll do nothing. I feel good. I do not feel any unusual hard lumps on my flat chest.

It’s been nine months since my last exam. All doctors I’ve seen since July 2018 have told me to get checked every six months. But I skipped my bi-annual exam this summer because of the travel circumstances. Should I skip another six months?

I also have a Philippine oncologist in Cebu, on another island. We could travel back to Cebu. But then we might not be able to get back to Aklan.

Or, I can seek out an oncologist in Iloilo, the largest city on this island, Panay. Here again, there’s always a risk I would not be able to easily get back into Aklan. And, I’ll be starting over with another oncologist, again, while I feel perfectly fine.

I have a little extra time to decide. Since I take tamoxifen, doctors would probably like me to get checked somewhere. But then again, I really do feel fine.

It’s all up to God anyway. Hopefully, the Universe will send me a clear sign on the path forward.

Thanks for reading, “Pandemic travel options: Thinking out loud.”

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