Grounded: Updates from a Traveler without Wings

Quick question: WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON RIGHT NOW?

The world has turned upside down, hasn’t it? I don’t need to explain the context. The situation is global and we’re all in this together, a thought that’s both oddly comforting and terrifying at once.

Based on our search traffic, it’s clear that no one is searching for travel right now. It makes sense. And me, the professional travel content creator? For once in my life, I have a long stretch of time with no commitments and no deadlines. All my projects, trips, conferences and campaigns have been cancelled or postponed until at least August.

In other circumstances, this free time would be perfect for catching up on a few hundred blog posts or to work on my travel memoir, but I’m struggling to write about travel when I don’t know what the future of travel is.

 

Still, I’m compelled to write. The act of writing has always grounded me (heh) and I’ve been using it to process life since I could hold a pen. 

Whether or not anyone reads these daily updates, I’ll keep posting here – almost like I used to when I first started blogging in 2006. Since we’re walking through historic times, I’m sure I’ll want to revisit my thoughts years down the line when God willing, we’re all healthy and everything is better than it was before.

If you’ve found yourself here in the midst of 2020’s shocking turn of events, welcome! Feel free to leave me a note here or drop me a line on the socials. And please, stay healthy & stay home.

— Angie 

 

Tuesday, February 25

Arrived in San Jose, California, to visit with my hubby. He’s working out here indefinitely so I’m back and forth. When I landed I learned Santa Clara County was one of the first in the US to declare a local state of emergency as a result of the virus. It’s on everyone’s minds, but it seems like business as usual in Silicon Valley.

Thursday, February 27 

POP THE BUBBLY! Angie Away received a silver 2019 NATJA Award (the North American Travel Journalists Association ) for the story “Influencers are the Worst… or Are They?”

National Geographic Traveler took home Gold and Bronze in the same category, so I’m in good company. Victory screech! 

Sunday, March 1

Date day with my man! He only gets one day off a week, so we try to make it special. Today, we went to San Francisco and did all the touristy things – ate seafood, wandered Fisherman’s Wharf, watched the sea lions forever and hopped on the bus tour. We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and hiked up an absurd hill with a gorgeous view. An exponentially better experience than my last visit to San Francisco. (I told that whole saga over on Instagram stories. Did you catch it?)

p.s. How about this beard he’s been growing in California? We’re going to have to chop that right off when he gets home!

Wednesday, March 4

Lunch with dear friend and travel blogosphere OG, Chris Christensen! Such a treat to chat about the future of travel with one of my favorite colleagues. 

Sunday, March 8

Leaving California on the redeye for a Disney cruise departing tomorrow out of Miami, Florida. I’ve never seen an airport so quiet! There wasn’t a soul in the security line at SJC. 

Monday, March 9

Departure day! Rae, Ben and I are checking out a Disney Cruise this week. I’ve always wanted to cruise with Disney and have heard such amazing things, so we are pumped to be here as media.

It’s an interesting time to cruise, that’s for sure as the virus is beginning to impact the travel industry in bigger and bigger ways. SXSW and ITB are cancelled, TBEX is postponed, airports are empty and Italy is locking down areas completely. I’ve heard all-out panic from some and denial, confusion or blissful ignorance from others. I think there’s a rational middle ground somewhere between the extremes.

The bottom line is whether you get sick or not, the worldwide economy and travel as we know it are evolving before our eyes.

Wednesday, March 11

It’s Marvel Day at Sea! I can’t wait to write about today. What a joyful, fun experience onboard the Disney Magic. Rick is the true Marvel fan in our family and I so wish he were here for this. I met Thor! And Groot! And I danced with Starlord at the Ravenger’s Club. What is life?! I know there’s a lot going on outside the confines of this ship, but I’m so grateful to be here right now. Escapism at its finest!

Marvel Day at Sea

Friday, March 13

So much has changed since we left.

This is an uncertain and scary time for everyone working in tourism – not just us content creators, but our servers and room attendants and everyone onboard this ship. I can’t even begin to convey how amazing the Disney Cruise staff has been this week, constantly cleaning, sterilizing, communicating and doing it all with a smile. Lives and livelihoods are at stake and they are just hospitality pros. I am so impressed.

Plans are in flux for millions of people on a minute-by-minute basis, us included.

Saturday, March 14

I don’t think I’ve ever been so sad to disembark a cruise. Stepping onto the gangway, it felt like going from vibrant color to black and white. Like when Dorothy left Kansas and woke up in Oz, just in reverse.

On the ship, most people had disconnected from their phones, so everyone was in the moment – enjoying their families, meeting princesses, eating all the Mickey ice cream bars, playing Disney trivia.

On the drive from Miami’s port to Rae’s apartment in Orlando, reality kicked in as we absorbed news on our phones. So much is different. So much is cancelled. 

I’ll be staying put for at least two weeks not because I’m worried about getting sick, but because I care about not infecting others with any germs I may have picked up.

If we’re all overreacting and this is not a thing, we’ll know in a few days and we can go back to normal. And if not, the sooner we start social distancing, the more people will stay healthy and the more hospital beds will be free for those who do get sick.

Sunday, March 15

Rae drove me home to Jacksonville. I haven’t been here in three weeks so my first thought after digesting all the news was, “Do I even have toilet paper?”

It’s the first thing I checked for at home, and whew! I stocked up before I left. 

 

Monday, March 16

All of our Airbnb guests for the next few weeks have cancelled. I’m not even going to think about how we’re going to pay that mortgage just yet.

In happy news, my dear friend Jamie is starting a weekly Zoom Bible study to get us all through this. This will be my 3rd iteration of Bible study with J-Mart, first in Atlanta, then in NYC and now on the Internet. Grateful for thoughtful friends in this whack time.

Tuesday, March 17

“Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

Ok, real talk from my self-imposed 14-day post-cruise isolation. I’m not feeling so tough right now. Can I tell you what’s going on behind the scenes?

  • My tourism-based career is at a standstill – hopefully temporary, but who knows. All of our projects through August are postponed or cancelled for Rae and me both. That means that despite having a ton of work we can do, we’re both basically unemployed and not getting a paycheck. 
  • I’ve got friends testing positive for the virus already and this thing is only just kicking off in the US.
  • Lots of folks aren’t taking the whole social distancing thing seriously and it’s making me want to shoot bleach at them from a safe distance. Why don’t they care about others? Why is spring break or brunch or a birthday party more important than saving lives?
  • I have a sore, scratchy throat. It’s probably pollen. Happens every year at this time. But I’m taking my temperature anyhow just to be safe.
  • And Rick is still in California and we don’t know when he’ll be able to come home. Especially if a domestic travel ban comes into play. 

I know I’m not the only HSP / empath out there feeling all the feelings. We’ve literally never been through anything like this so everyone’s a bit confused on how to act. I know I’m usually all “travel is great and the world is great and people are great” but today I’m on the stress train.

I can’t pretend life is peachy and that things aren’t going sideways just because that’s what Instagram rewards. It’s a hot mess dumpster fire right now. Full stop.

I know in times like this, where everything is out of my control and there’s literally not a thing I can do about it, I’m grateful for peace that passes understanding. Things may get worse before they get better, but I’m going to focus on God and know that He’s got a plan.

Wednesday, March 18

We do a ton of different things (The Jet Sisters travel show, website, group trips, blogger bootcamps, freelance writing, consulting, TV, PR, copywriting) but almost all of them fall under the tourism umbrella. By and large, our income depends on the success of destinations, airlines, theme parks and cruises. When travel goes belly up, so do our projects. Yikes?!

We aren’t freaking out. God will make a way. But it’s still not fun to face what could be a very tumultuous time in travel and in our careers.

And that’s just the very personal micro view of the way this is impacting us… there are so many out there in more vulnerable situations. We’re fortunate to be relatively young and healthy but there are others who are not.

If I were 70+, a smoker or dealing with health issues, I’d stay put. Even if I don’t personally get sick, I plan to self isolate (my introverted dream come true) after travel just to make sure I’m not carrying any contagions. Since I work from home when I’m not traveling, I have the privilege of doing that. So many don’t. It’s a weird time for us all.

I don’t have any definitive answers about what’s going to happen. I’m a professional traveler not a medical expert, so I’m making informed decisions as best as I can with the info available. It looks like we’re in for some turbulence.

Thursday, March 19

Hey look! I was quoted in a Conde Nast Traveler piece about travel cancellations due to the virus. 

And speaking of cancellations, I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise, but we are postponing The Jet Sisters Wine Weekend in the Finger Lakes. Travel is supposed to be a fun escape, not a looming “what if” to stress over. Postponing indefinitely is the right, safe choice.

The Jet Sisters Wine Weekend Postponed

We don’t want anyone freaking out about whether or not our trip will happen, so we’ve issued full refunds to all our sweet ladies who booked. We are hopeful once we’re able to travel again that everyone will hop back onboard. 

Friday, March 20

I’m waffling between cheery optimism and tearful despair every two hours or so. I feel that same helplessness I felt during 9/11. Constantly refreshing the news, waiting for an answer. Knowing there’s nothing I can do but pray and wash my hands is not a comfortable place for this Enneagram 3 to sit. You feel me? I am learning just how much I like to be in control of everything, and that in real life, we don’t control anything.

My life has changed so dramatically in such a short time – so fast, it feels like a movie. Last week, Rae and I were on a Disney cruise – truly, the happiest place on earth. Onboard the ship, where most people were out of touch with the Internet, it was a blissful world of Marvel heroes, bingo and Mickey Mouse dance parties.

And now we’re… here. Wherever here is. Halfway to dystopia or the apocalypse? I hope not.

Saturday, March 21

At my best moments, I can find so many silver linings this whole being grounded lifestyle.

    • I can get so much done!
    • I need the rest!
    • I have so much time for activities!
    • This is not that different from my normal life when I’m at home anyhow. 

And then in my worst moments, which seem to instantly follow the good ones in a roller coaster-like fashion, I’m not so positive. I question if I’ll have a career when this is over. I question why it always has to be about politics. (You know I can’t stand politics.) I question what on God’s green earth possesses people in power (and regular people on Facebook) to say some of the things they say. I wonder if Rick is going to get to come home. I wonder if anyone I know is going to die from the virus. 

None of that is helpful! And so I go back to Psalm 46:10, take about 25 deep breaths and start over.

Sunday, March 22

Welcome to the Sabbath without church! Just kidding. Church isn’t a building or a gathering, so it’s still on no matter how things change. I’m watching our service online from my couch. I can’t imagine if something like this virus happened to me before technology. I suppose that’s another silver lining – staying connected is easy in a time of isolation.

I was supposed to see Hamilton tonight in Jacksonville with my brother. In the grand scheme of the world’s massive problems right now, it’s not even a blip on the suffering radar. But it’s one of many bummers and I think I’m allowed to be bummed. THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN, INDEED.

 

 

Monday, March 23

Last week, I wallowed way more than I’d normally allow myself. But today I’m on track with a schedule to follow, some goals to hit and some projects to tackle. First up, check out my sweet surfboard makeover! Finished product here. 

I also took a nice long walk, planted flowers, worked on my memoir for a few hours and fiddled around on my new website that I haven’t launched yet. A productive day of staying homes and saving lives.

Am I a part of the Avengers now? Basically.

Tuesday, March 24

I’m wrestling with a dilemma: do I stay informed via the news and Twitter and live in a constant state of feeling too many feelings, or do I just live in a quarantine bubble where I tune out news, don’t know what’s going on but feel so much better? There’s a weird tension here.

In the past, I’ve felt that I had a real choice in how much news I consumed. But now, with news changing by the minute and everything being so… life or death… it feels a bit more crucial to stay on top of things.

How are you managing your news intake?

Wednesday, March 25

I just saw flights from Miami to LA for $27. 

It’s a good thing I am a rule follower because I don’t even need to go to either of those places and I wanna book it.

Thursday, March 26

Here’s my question for the folks who don’t have to go out. You’re not essential employees, you don’t need food… like, WHY are y’all still going out? What part of stay at your house and flatten the curve do you not understand? Why am I losing everything because I CHOOSE to stay at home and follow the guidelines when so many others are having BBQs and sleepovers?

Boredom is not a valid excuse to put someone else's life in danger

Coronavirus is turning me into my mother. I legit want to ground everyone around me.  

Friday, March 27

Good news: I feel totally fine after self-isolating for 12 days. I’m almost officially in the clear. That is a blessing!

If I stay off social media, it feels a lot like normal life for me when I am not traveling. I’m used to working from home and Zoom calls and having my own little schedule, so that part has been pretty much status quo. I mean, other than the fact that all my projects and trips are postponed / canceled and @raeaway and I are figuring out a new normal.

But we are ok! It’s taken the better part of my two weeks of self-imposed, post-cruise quarantine to preach the truth to myself and remember that my beliefs mean no matter what the circumstances, I don’t have to be afraid. God’s in charge of my future. It’s such a relief to remember it’s not all on my shoulders!

Are you feeling more or less optimistic now than a few weeks ago? Have you been sheltering in place? What’s the order where you are? Are people in your town staying put & social distancing or ignoring the warnings? How are you feeling?

Saturday, March 28

I hate to even bring up silver linings at a time like this, because it sure looks like we’re facing a very tall mountain and we’re barely at basecamp, but I know how important it’s been for me to reframe situations throughout my life. I heard someone saying on TV how we are all stuck at home, and it sounded like we’re being kept in a cage. Thus far, Florida hasn’t issued anything more than gentle guidelines on how to flatten the curve, and the rule followers are diligently staying home and Florida Man and his entourage are out licking doorknobs.

So I’m choosing to see it a different way. I get to be safe at home. I’m not an essential employee and I have nowhere urgent to be, so yes, I’ve lost my income, but I am fortunate and blessed to get to hang out in my house and not get infected. There are way too many essential folks who don’t have that option, so I refuse to be upset about it.

I’m staying put because I get to, not because I have to. 

Sunday, March 29

Happy birthday, Mom! It’s not nearly as exciting as last year’s Bigfoot Blowout, but that’s life in the time of Corona. We’ve got big plans to celebrate just as soon as hanging out is less deadly.

Monday, March 30

I know all the parents who’ve instantly become homeschool teachers have schedules because they’re all over Facebook! I’ve found that having a schedule helps me maintain equilibrium during this season that makes no sense.

So here’s what my days at home look like now: 

      • 8-9 | Exercise
      • 9-10 | Coffee + Pray, Journal, Bible & Meditate
      • 10-1 | Write Memoir 
      • 1-3 | Lunch, nap, TV, pool time, reading
      • 3-5 | Blog Tasks
      • 5-6 | App Time, Curable & Calm
      • 6-7 | Cook Dinner
      • 7-8 | House projects – cleaning, organizing, laundry, etc.
      • 8-late | Shower & Chill 

I should note that for me, schedules are more of a guideline than something I actively try to stick to. They keep me on track when I’m feeling untethered, which I feel a lot without deadlines and projects to work on. But this is about how much time per day I’d like to spend on each task.

Today, I spent 8 hours on blog tasks and none on anything else. Some days I get so many phone calls from family that I don’t even look at the schedule until 4 p.m. So I’m not trying to be a legalist… but I do want to come out on the other side of this having done more than stare out the window sadly like I’m in a prescription drug commercial.

Do you have a schedule to keep you on track? 

Tuesday, March 31

I spent 5 hours filming a little treat for y’all today. It felt good to work on a project… even a silly one! Stay tuned =) 

Wednesday, April 1

Instead of making up some absurd lie for April Fool’s, because life is just plenty absurd enough right now thankyouverymuch, Rae and I made THE JET SISTERS: QUARANTINE EDITION. It’s got no production value and real talk, we haven’t brushed our hair in weeks, but it was a fun little project and it’s nice to actually get to use our equipment while self-isolating. Watch the video here. 

Also live today is the latest edition of Reflections from the Road. It’s a long, emotional ride … but what isn’t anymore? I hope it brings you some encouragement while giving you a peek at what’s going on behind the curtain for Angie Away / The Jet Sisters. 

Friday, April 3

Four months after he left and Rick is finally home from California! He’s being forced to quarantine without pay for two weeks, which is pretty crummy to do to employees at a time like this, BUT after all this time apart I am not going to complain. It’s not like we can go anywhere and spend money anyhow. We’ll eat Chef Boyardee and pretend it’s a vacation. YAY!

p.s. He grew a beard in California and I have to confess here in the privacy of the Internet that it’s not my favorite souvenir. I’ll circle back in a few weeks with an update.

Monday, April 6

March took forever but April seems like it’s whizzing by. And I have a few questions:

      • Am I hungry or bored?
      • Did I eat dinner or was that just a Little Debbie?
      • What actual day is it?
      • Did I already take a nap? 
      • Can I take another nap? 
      • When did I last wash my hair?

Is it like this for you? The days are really starting to bleed together.

Tuesday, April 7

Can we get John Krasinski some kind of humanitarian award? I love his new weekly show Some Good News. Love it so much. 

As I’m becoming ever more vigilant about what I consume during the pandemic, this always makes the cut.

Wednesday, April 8

Have you ever chased a giant, hairy spider out of your house and then watched as a zillion babies came crawling out?! ‘Cuz that just happened to me.

First of all, it’s a good thing Rick is back from California. Because if he wasn’t, I’d have stuck a For Sale sign out front and moved away. He handled the situation with a broom while I screamed from the kitchen.

Never a dull moment, even during quarantine.

Thursday, April 9

Armed with assurances that everyone would maintain social distance, I walked down to my brother’s house today for a little concert in his front yard. His cover band got together – 6 feet apart, of course – and played a set for the neighborhood. It was such a treat! To be outside, to connect safely with neighbors and to listen to some live music… it felt like freedom!

And it put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like when this is all over and we can finally do the things we took for granted? I’m probably going to have a meltdown when I get to travel again. I’ll be the girl bawling in the TSA line.

Friday, April 10

I’m in the “I need a haircut and I’m going to do it myself” phase of lockdown. I don’t know why – I’m not one of those folks who gets my hair cut regularly. Maybe twice a year at most? And yet, now, I feel the need to chop, chop.

Oh, and I’m thinking of coloring it pink.

This has to be a psychological effect of the pandemic, right? 

Saturday, April 11

Did y’all know that outside of the internet, there are millions of people who haven’t read the first thing about Coronavirus and only know the rumors they hear while speaking in person to other non-readers? I’m amazed at the disparity in just my own circles. I know many people who are still congregating in large groups who view Coronavirus as an overreaction, a mild inconvenience, a hoax and worse. And I know several people who have tested positive, and quite a few acquaintances whose relatives have actually died from it. And how many of us have lost our livelihoods? (Hopefully temporarily, but in travel, we just don’t know yet.)

How can there be such a chasm in understanding? It boggles my mind. 

Sunday, April 12

For the first time I can remember in my life, I physically and emotionally feel the weight of Easter weekend. We spend so much time celebrating and focusing on get-togethers and church and our Sunday best that it’s easy to forget the real reason behind why we celebrate. It was a season of suffering that ended in rejoicing. 

A truth I’ve been holding onto the past few months is something my pastor says often, “If the tomb is empty, anything is possible.” I’ve never been more grateful for my faith than I am now! 

Monday, April 13

I was weeding in the garden today and just about grabbed a whole handful of snake in the oregano. Funny thing, he didn’t freak out and neither did I. We just clocked each other and moved on.

#Slytherin4life 

Sunday, April 14

As an introvert, lockdown hasn’t been the worst part of this weird era we’re living in for me. (But I am thinking of all of you social butterflies who need hugs right now – I know you’re struggling!)

I am super sad that I can’t travel. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “We should go to Hawaii” and then the realization washes over me all over again that the life of impromptu globetrotting I had a month ago is not the life I have now.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared that the travel-focused career I’ve spent more than a decade building is on pause… or maybe over. I’m still working on projects, but it’s like someone put a hazy filter over everything I’m writing. I’m hoping for a fast recovery for the industry but I’m a realist, too.

Still, when I take a minute to reflect on what I’m grateful for, I can even find silver linings in being at home and basically being unemployed.

What really gets me cranky lately is the partisan arguing and political jockeying, my neighbors still throwing backyard get togethers with no concern for public health and the sad reality that we’re going to lose a lot more people before this is over. Those are all byproducts of life in the time of coronavirus that I can’t control – and while I guess the point is that we were never truly in control, I am still adjusting to that reality. I have been taking a lot of naps, y’all. This is exhausting in a way I didn’t expect.

There truly is so much good going on right now in the midst of all the negative. The healthcare workers! Every essential worker keeping the lights on right now! People helping each other! John Krasinski!

I just have to be intentional about seeking out the bright ☀️ spots and filtering as much of the dark out as I can.

Tell me something good you’re focusing on these days ☀️ I wanna celebrate every blessing, every win, every answered prayer and every sparkly little moment.

Thursday, April 16

Rick has been home for a few weeks and I need to know how two people can make so many dishes?! I always thought we ate out a lot pre-quarantine because I didn’t like cooking, but that’s really not it. I like cooking just fine. I HATE CLEANING UP.

@thejetsistersNot sure what’s better, this guacamole or the audio we didn’t mean to capture ???? Have you had guac with Mango before!? ##quacamole ##recipe♬ original sound – thejetsisters

We’re filling up the dishwasher every single day — that never used to happen. It took me a week to fill it up when he was in California. If I didn’t feel so guilty every time a plastic fork gets used, I’d make the switch to disposable cutlery to save time. But the environment wins.

Tuesday, April 21

I’ve always offered paid 30-60 minute blog coaching sessions via video chat and of course in-depth training at our annual Blogger Bootcamp, but since COVID-19 is kinda throwing a wrench in all our plans, I am opening up video sessions for Angie Away readers for FREE!

If you have specific questions about blogging, planning a post-coronavirus trip or just want to chat about The Office, your cute dog, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or just about anything else, sign up for a slot on Calendly.*

I’m here to serve all of you who’ve stuck with me over the years however I can – this one’s on me!

*Unless you’re a business with a budget *cough* *Ruth’s Chris* *Shake Shack* *cough*, in which case, we would love to set up a paid consultation with you!

Thursday, April 23

I had my first private Zoom consulting chat today with a new friend in Canada! Almost all the slots are booked up through May, but there are a few left. Sign up link is above if you’d like to hop on a call with me. Free, free, free!

Sunday, April 26

Confession time: Rae and I are loving TikTok. We’ve been playing around on it for a few months. We have no idea what we’re doing and I think part of what makes it fun is just not knowing what’s going to stick. We love being weird and making people laugh, and TikTok lends itself perfectly to our brand of nerdy, sisterly shenanigans.

@thejetsistersUhhhh…Coranamora virus is the WORST! ##coronavirus ##thejetsisters ##boredathome ##keepingbusy ##harrypotter♬ original sound – aarondoh

 

Friday, May 8

We’re skipping our annual trip to Ginnie Springs this weekend. They opened up without capacity restrictions last weekend and it looks to be more crowded than ever. The last thing we want to do is waste all the time we’ve spent social distancing just to catch coronavirus in the long line to get in the river. Hoping next year things will be back to normal. 

Sunday, May 10

Just got back from the lake house. Don’t get excited – the house is nothing fancy, but the property has been in our family since the 70s and we love having somewhere we can escape to. Never needed it as much as we do now! The weather was gorgeous! I can’t remember a Mother’s Day weekend with such chilly mornings and perfect warm days.  The house that’s there now has seen a whole lot of Orth shenanigans, but my goal is to build a beautiful vacation home out there one day. We’ll see how it goes. Seems like everything I had in mind for the future is on hold for the time being while we figure out our new normal.

Monday, May 11

It feels like my birthday but it’s just FabFitFun opening day! I just got my first box in the mail and tore into it (you can see the haul on TikTok and Instagram stories) with wild abandon. I always wanted one of these face rollers. Love the oil diffuser, there’s a scented roller ball that Rick smelled on me right away and a super cute cooler bag I’m going to use once I feel safe going to the beach again. I’ve got an offer code (ANGIEAWAY) for $10 off your first box – it’s super worth it because you get so many goodies, and it really just feels nice to be spoiled for a minute especially in the midst of all this craziness. Self care is a must, not a luxury! Thanks so much, FabFitFun, for the treat yo’self day. I needed it!

COME AWAY WITH ME!
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