For the last several months travel as we knew it has stopped and yet the world has continued to move and our lives have moved on in new directions. Some of those directions have been positive, the Earth has begun repairing itself before our eyes. We have also begun to recognize the things that are truly important, the ones who make our daily lives work, the truck drivers, the trash collection, the grocery clerks and of course our front line workers. We have realized that while we love our sports and Hollywood what we miss most are our family and friends.
Today as I write this a person I am very close to and consider my Aunt is quarantined because she just got out of the hospital from a bad fall at 94 years old. We can only visit outside her window and try to reassure her. Another Aunt is fighting for her life with hospice care and her immediate family by her side as her husband sits with her on what is their 50th wedding Anniversary. I have never seen any couple that visibly looks so in love - always. You can just tell how much Harvey loves Mary Jo. In another time we would jump on a plane and be there to support the family in any way we could. But instead I sit here in Baltimore and pray that there will be more time and we will see her smile again in person. But as I think about this couple and how much love and life has grown in that 50 years of marriage, the children, the grandchildren, all of us that have been touched by their love and their example. The foundation built that all of us can look to. Then I think about the news right now, the protests and pain and all of us trying in some way to make sense of it. The very foundation of our democracy being tested every day. What will we learn from this time? Will the next generation know our history? Will they be able to have a complete picture of who we were? The good, the bad, the lessons learned. Will tearing down statutes and erasing names, erase the history? Is the answer to hide our past or share it? When we built the holocaust museum there were some who thought we shouldn’t. It was to painful they said, but there were others who believed that if we did not show the world what had happened it would be repeated. When we are lucky history is a blessing, like a marriage that is full of love and builds a family. But sometimes history is painful, but if we hide it we don’t learn from it and we cannot change it. I don’t know what the answers are, I do know that the Native American side of my family is not a fan of Andrew Jackson but I have never torn down a statute of him and I wouldn’t. I do think the other side of the story should also be told. Most of the founders of this country we could find issue with, but they also laid a foundation that enables us to take to the streets and protest. Our democracy is not perfect, we have so much inequality and inequity but the foundation is solid and together if we face our history I do believe we can achieve a truly United States of America.
Travel and the Virus Cancellations
Wow so usually I write about great travel tips or some wonderful travel experiences we have had. Today I am writing about how to stay calm and deal with travel changes and cancellations. We were scheduled to go to NC this week and then heading to Germany on March 30th for a two month tour. Then a cruise to Alaska in June.
The first thing that got postponed was the cruise, as the world watched folks locked on a cruise ship with fellow passengers testing positive the last thing anyone wanted to do was plan a cruise. We totally understood and so did Celebrity and Fan Club Cruises. They immediately worked with us to find a date in 2021 and let all the fans that were joining us know that they could rebook for 2021 or cancel.
Then came the worst news, our whole European tour over 20 shows cancelled. Which meant flights, rental cars, hotels all had to be cancelled. This is where I want to tell you to be calm. Long hold times, calls dropping, notices from airlines that tell you that you can cancel but then you sign in and cannot. Breathe. We are all in this together and I feel confident that the airlines at least here in the USA will do the right thing.
I could not get thru and finally gave in and cancelled and trusted the process. I just got confirmation that one of our flights with American Airlines has been reimbursed. I trust it will be the same for Delta. Why do I feel so sure of this, because I have been flying with Delta for over 30 years and they have always done the right thing. And this is not to say they are perfect I have had my luggage lost just like other people but they did take care of it. But the reason we fly them so often is because they respect musicians and understand our need to travel for work. I have cancelled our flights and trust that what they have stated in their website will happen credit will be issued. All of the hotels that we book with have cancelled with no issue. Hertz rental car in Germany which is by far the best choice for anyone that travels in Europe was also no problem.
I understand all of us would like to get someone on the phone and have it handled right now. But the truth is those same people trying to handle all our calls are probably dealing with the same uncertainty in their lives. All of us are going to have to try to trust that we are all doing our best. It is not easy we have been living in an instant on line world for a long time now. But the world is rebooting right now and all of us have no choice but to wait for the update to finish.
PS. I wrote this last night and this morning as I signed in to post I got a phone call (yes they called me) with a wonderful customer representative from Delta named Michele who called to say she had received my email and they were crediting the cost of my tickets back to my account and asked if there was anything else she could do including transferring me to another department to change my other reservations. This is why I stay Loyal to Delta. Thank you Michele and Delta for making travel in these crazy times better.
January 25th 2020
When I landed in Sydney Australia in December 18th the sky was full of ash and as we drove down to the Harbour you could barely see the Sydney Opera House, later in the week there was ash on our clothes that we hung on the line. But we never once thought of leaving, instead we headed north to the Sunshine Coast for a couple days at the beach before heading to Woodford Folk Festival. As we drove north we found ourselves in tears as we witnessed acre after acre of burned out forest and animals that were clearly not getting enough food. We still never thought about leaving instead wondered what we could do to help.
After an unexpected trip back to the US for my mother in law’s funeral we saw headline after headline on the nightly news about the fires in Australia. Several of them stating that tourist were being evacuated and that it was dangerous to travel to the country that we had just left. The headlines were more than worrisome, it was irresponsible. Australia was being devastated and the last thing it needed was to lose more tourism. We returned and as I sit writing this I am back in the Sydney area after bring at the 35th annual Illawarra Folk Festival and today the Traveler section of the The Sydney Morning Herald included an article written by Sue Williams and Anthony Dennis called Rising From The Ashes about 50 ways that tourists can help. I won’t list them here but let me sum it by saying that what Australia does not need is us to stay away. The fires and other storms have cost this country over 2.1 Billion dollars so far. Are there areas that you can not go to, yes. But there are plenty of areas that you can visit and they need us. Several festivals have been cancelled one located in the town of Cobargo that has been devastated with many of the festival committee dealing with the lose of their homes. While the festival will not take place this year, next year I have no doubt that Australians will come out in force to bring them back and I think we should do the same. We all have choices to make in our vacation time and dollars but I can tell you that I will do everything I can to support a country that is being directly affected by the climate issues that all of us have helped create. If you have ever thought of visiting Australia, move it to the top of your list. If you live here stay domestic for your vacation this year. They need you and I promise you there are still plenty of beautiful beaches and wonderful towns to visit. From Illawarra to Double Bay to the Gold Coast, Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast or west to SA the people are wonderful and the trip will be worth your while.
Side note: read the article in The Sydney morning Herald. https://www.traveller.com.au/the-50-ways-travellers-can-help-australia-recover-from-the-bushfires-h1l5y1
Here is a link to an animal rescue that deals with animals year round, not just animals affected by the fires but from the heat and other issues as well and we know these folks.
I have been traveling my whole life, first as the child of a military family and then as a young adult and now for business. During that time I have seen some amazing changes to the way we get around the world but there are things that have changed for the worse. No matter how crowded the flights were when I was little people always seemed to be happy they were traveling. There were no fees for luggage, or peanuts and when they introduced headphones I don’t remember there being a cost for them either. Now when you book a ticket at least the law has made the advertised cost to include taxes so there is no surprise there but that’s where it stops. Unless like me you read the fine print you could find yourself paying for just about anything on your flight. But tonight as I checked in for our flight tomorrow I saw a travel advisory and while I knew it was not for the flight we were taking I read it. We fly Delta a lot and not because they are the most convenient airline to our travel plans because often they are not, but because of their support to Human Rights over the years and they just seem to care. Today in their travel advisory was a notice that they were waiving Luggage Fees and Pet fees for those people fleeing from areas in the path of Dorian. I loved reading this. All of us have seen the stories about people taking advantage of those suffering in storms with price gouging and even tonight on the world news was a story about an official in Puerto Rica taking bribes from the contractors doing storm clean up there. Delta’s announcement did not make National News but I wish it had. I think we all benefit from a world that shares news about companies and people doing the right thing. I know it made my night just knowing that a company I choose to support, chose to do the right thing.