Published: 10th March 2020

It’s a challenging time for many as the COVID-19 virus spreads around the world. One of the hardest hit industries is the tourism/travel industry which provides jobs (directly and indirectly) for hundreds of millions of people globally. My thoughts are with those directly affected by the virus and for the millions whose livelihoods are now threatened by the impact of COVID-19.

Changi Airport Singapore is normally one of the busiest airports in Asia. It was pretty quiet when I passed through last February.

COVID-19: What we can do

With lockdowns in place in large swathes of China and the entire country of Italy, and governments around the world scrambling to prevent a further spread of the virus through a variety of measures, I think it’s important for all of us to keep calm and heed the advice of the authorities and experts through official government channels and the World Health Organisation.

It’s imperative that we follow the recommended guidelines to prevent a further spread and ensure that the weak and elderly in our communities are protected. This means:

  • washing our hands frequently (at least 20 seconds) with soap,
  • minimising direct social contact (keep in touch online) and avoiding crowds,
  • refraining from shaking hands and other greetings that involve touching hands and/or the face,
  • keeping at least a 1.5-meter (5 feet) distance from people in public areas,
  • avoiding touching your eyes, mouth and nose with your hands,
  • coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into the bend of your elbow,
  • working as much as possible from home if this is an option,
  • having to quarantine yourself at home (14 days is the prescribed norm) if you’re not feeling well or if you’ve just returned from a high-risk area,
  • and should you develop a fever, cough or respiratory difficulties, seek medical attention early by phone.

(source of these tips: WHO and Flatten the Curve).

All passengers on the plane from Singapore were required to wear a face mask upon arrival in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport (Feb. 2020), in my opinion a futile attempt to slow the spread of the virus. If you look closely, you’ll spot two lessons on how not to wear a face mask (for effective protection). You’ll find the answers in the comment section below.

COVID-19: Should we travel?

I must admit, at the start of the COVID-19 epidemic earlier this year, I was adamant about one thing: keep travelling. In February and March, I visited my family in Malaysia and made trips to Thailand, Singapore and Germany, though I remained cautious and closely heeded the advice of the authorities.

Taking a selfie at the rooftop bar of the EQ Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Now, with the rapid spread of the virus globally, I think it’s wise to do my part by staying put. I’m not so much concerned about myself (I think I’m in sufficient condition to beat the virus should I get infected) but more so about my loved ones and people around me who are in a more vulnerable age group.

So, I’ve decided to stay home for now. Travel plans have been postponed or cancelled until May (for now), and I will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis with the hope that it soon dissipates.

COVID-19 travel restrictions are increasing

I’m not an expert but if someone asks me for my opinion on whether to travel during this COVID-19 outbreak, I would tell them to check with their local authorities for updates before attempting any travel. The COVID-19 status of countries/regions around the world is changing fast and many countries have imposed travel restrictions, so make sure you’re well and correctly informed. Here’s a list of travel advisories provided by the:

In addition, check your travel insurance coverage as it may not cover certain types of cancellations or in case you get stranded somewhere.

COVID-19: What do we do now?

Well, with travel plans cancelled or postponed, we can always dream and look forward to future travels right? Despite the challenges now, travel remains for me the most important educator and bridge-builder, in addition to its ability to inspire and nurture a balanced well-being. So, I hope that we will continue to travel once the current situation improves. Here’s a little travel inspiration from me in the form of some of my favourite travel photos. Feel free to click on any of the links to read the accompanying post.

A street in Bologna

One of the most heavily-impacted regions in Italy, I hope that the situation in Emilia-Romagna improves soon so I can return for my annual visit! Read about things to do in Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

Zebras grazing outside a Kwena Lodge suite.

Read about my safari at the Gondwana Private Reserve in South Africa.

Riding the Rocky Mountaineer train across the Canadian Rockies.

Read about my trip on the Rocky Mountaineer.

The spectacular southern coastline of Mauritius, with the Ile aux Aigrettes nature reserve in the lagoon.

Read about things to do in Mauritius.

Plaza Espana in Sevilla.

Read about the historic architecture in Sevilla.

Panoramic view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline at sunset.

Read about things to do in Kuala Lumpur.

The tulip fields in Holland are a sight to behold every spring.

Read about where to see the tulip fields in Holland.

things to do in budapest
The Parliament Building in Budapest.

Read about things to do in Budapest.

Jaw-dropping views of Cirque de Mafate and Piton de Neiges in Réunion Island.

Read my guide for the best places to visit in Reunion Island.

The Treasury in the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.

Read about things to do in Petra, Jordan.

The spectacular Jewel mall at Changi Airport in Singapore.

Read about my visit to Jewel at Changi Airport.

An artist at work in Costa Brava, Spain.

Read about the medieval towns in Costa Brava, Spain.

The amazing library in the St. Florian monastery.

Read about my visit to this amazing baroque monastery in Austria.

The unusual trulli houses in Puglia, Italy.

Read my guide for the best places to visit in Puglia, Italy.

A street in Kathmandu.

Read about my impressions of Kathmandu, Nepal.

Dresden at twilight.

Read about things to do in Dresden, Germany.

The view from a platform of the Brazil side of the Iguassu Falls.

Read about things to do at and around the Iguazu Falls.

Matera! This ancient city in the south of Italy just blew my mind!

Read about things to do in Matera, Italy.

De Adriaan windmill in Haarlem, Netherlands.

Read about my recommended day trips from Amsterdam.

things to do in stellenbosch photo
The vineyards of Stellenbosch in South Africa.

Read about things to do in Stellenbosch.

Stay safe and healthy, and just as important, keep calm and well-informed during this COVID-19 crisis.

Check out the timeline of my favourite travel memories.

3 Responses

  • Hi Gretta,
    I gave quite some thought about whether I should write this and I’m glad I did. In the current situation, it’s best to stay home to help prevent a further spread, protect the vulnerable in our communities and not overburden our healthcare systems. Thanks for your comment! Stay healthy and safe!


  • I’m so glad that you’ve written this Keith and I agree with you that now is not the time to be travelling. Hopefully things will improve soon.

  • Answers:
    How to wear a face mask for effective protection:
    1. In the photo above, I’m wearing the face mask inside-out (I only realised this error later). One side is the protective side so ensure you look at the labels/instructions carefully before putting it on.
    2. Once you’ve worn the mask, don’t touch the exterior of the mask – this may contaminate your fingers/hands. Touch only the straps when removing the mask and dispose it with care.
    For more info, read this article from WHO.

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