Diary blog | The impact of the coronavirus on our world trip: Immediately going home!

We are back. Back in the Netherlands. We landed at Schiphol last night, after a hectic 48-hour journey. We left Australia in a rush because of corona. Months earlier than planned we are back home, with my parents. The next 14 days we will in quarantine in my old room. Wow, I really hadn’t seen this coming when I woke up Tuesday morning…

Tuesday morning 6:45 AM on a campground close to Byron Bay

Sleepily I rub my eyes. The first rays of sunlight slip through the curtains of our Spaceships campervan. Just like every day for the past three weeks, the first word that comes to mind when I wake up is the coronavirus. While Ries is still asleep, I grab my phone and read a message from my mother: “Would you let me know when you are awake?”. Sleepy I respond that I’m awake. The phone rings less than a second later. They are my parents, and we are immediately wide awake from their message.

“A proposal has been made by the European Commission to close the borders in order to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. Maybe you should make a choice whether you want to stay in Australia with the risk that you will not be able to return in the near future or that you will the trip ends earlier and come directly to the Netherlands. ”

Shit, what a nasty choice. If we stay in Australia, we do not know whether the country will go on lockdown and what that means for us tourists. What we do know is that we will not be able to visit our family and friends in the short-term should something happen to them (or vice versa).

It is clear to me what to do. Ries needs a little longer. But less than ten minutes later we are booking airline tickets for the next flight to the Netherlands. In times like this, we just want to be close to our friends and family. We are going back home!

Travel blog Byron Bay Penisula

9:30 AM: Driving from Byron Bay straight to Sydney

Once those tickets have been booked (with three laptops at the same time because we are notified several times that the tickets are already gone), it seems more travellers are in a rush of getting home immediately. Directly after booking the tickets, we pack our things, contact Spaceships to tell them that we are already returning our campervan today instead of in 3.5 weeks, and we are leaving Australia.

Our flight departs from Sydney on Wednesday at 6am, and we are still in Byron Bay. That means we have to drive for over 9 hours. In the car we continuously read the news, and we have contact with friends who are also abroad. Spain is closing completely, Colombia is already locked and flights of other travellers are cancelled. Every ten minutes I refresh my mailbox, terrified of a message that our flight has been cancelled too.

During a break along the highway, in the pouring rain, we pack our bags, clear the campervan as much as possible and then drive on. Five more hours to go before we reach Sydney.

Back to Sydney back home

10:00 PM: Returning our campervan in Sydney.

After dozens of road diversions (really Australia, why now so many road works?) We arrive in Sydney. Both of us are exhausted and the airport is not open tonight. Once at the Spaceships office, where we will hand in the campervan, we decide that we will sleep in the car for another four hours. Ries is exhausted from driving and immediately falls asleep. I can’t fall asleep. I am very worried about everything and I face some serious stress.

I think everyone in the world recognizes this feeling right now. The panic that strikes, the fear of losing family and friends. The effects of all this on the economy, on people, on our lives. Tears roll down my cheeks. What am I supposed to do now?

Travel guide Surfers paradise getting ready with sunscreen

Wednesday 2 AM: Waiting one hour before the Airport of Sydney opens!

Finally, it is time to get up and put the keys of the campervan in the mailbox. Off to the airport!

Unfortunately, it turns out that the airport does not open until 3 am, but the toilet is open, so I am happy (and very relieved). The hours afterwards unfold in a haze. We can check in even though we are asked three times if we haven’t been to Europe in the past two weeks. Then we can go through security and then finally take off three hours later. Yes, the first flight will continue as usual!

8:20 pm (Australian time): Stopover in Dubai!

Fourteen hours later we arrive at Dubai. My eyes burn with fatigue (skipped night + stress + a tear here and there doesn’t do much good for your eyes), but I do see the red letters on the signs at Dubai Airport. Almost all flights have been cancelled. Luckily, the flight to Amsterdam is still indicated in black and therefore seems to continue!

Urinating (and washing hands) every 15 minutes from the tension. Continuously checking the news and contacting the home front. Our horribly sweet parents, friends and family are very involved. Everyone sends sweet words, messages and updates. Two friends who work in air traffic control indicate that they watch closely and always want to help in the search for new flights.

But it is not necessary, because we are taking off. In a plane, full of Dutchies, we start the last part of our journey!

Travel blog Byron Bay double rainbow and Charlotte

6:00 AM (Australian time) 8:00 pm (Dutch time): Finally back home

47 hours after I spoke to my parents, I see them in real life. They are waiting for us in the arrival hall of Schiphol. We are on Dutch soil, we did it! I can’t fly them in the arms, because of the hours on the plane, chances are that we are infected. At a suitable distance, I start to cry. It is so surreal to suddenly be at home but not being able to hug or touch each other, really bizarre!

Once in my parental home in Weert, Limburg. I finally fall asleep, after a 50 hours intensive travel journey.

In quarantine to prevent a possible coronavirus spread!

And here we are, in my old room, our home for the coming months. Fifteen square meters that we have arranged as optimally as possible. It feels like we are still camping.

In the morning we make coffee with a camping coffee machine, we have some plates and cutlery, so we can have breakfast and lunch. The camping fridge contains a bottle of wine and easy ingredients for wraps, etc. This way we have to leave the room as little as possible. We use a different toilet than the rest of the family and often communicate by telephone. It is strange to be back and live like this for a while.

Temporary room Charlotte Weert

Did we get corona on the plane?

But did we end up getting the coronavirus? No idea, it could be. Besides the fatigue, we feel fine. Above all, we do not want to run the risk of infecting family, vulnerable grandfathers and grandmothers, but also other people we do not know. And well, what are fourteen days in quarantine now?

In the next two and a half months we will spend a lot of time with my parents and friends. We can only enter our apartment in early June this year. Well, we have to wait a bit, but we will manage.

I am relieved and above all happy. It is really a pity that we had to end our journey through Australia. Visiting Japan and Taiwan is therefore not possible anymore. But the messages I get from fellow travellers, who are stuck, will live in uncertainty for days and maybe weeks. Those messages make sure that I never regretted a minute for our ‘forced’ departure. In times like these, I want to stay close to my friends, family and beloved ones.

Temporary room Charlotte Weert kitchen

Stay optimistic: in the end, we will overcome this together!

Strangely enough, Corona also gives hope. It feels like we are coming closer together here in the Netherlands as a society. When I look out the window, I see people smiling at each other on the street.

How everyone respects each other health by keeping an appropriate distance. When I open my phone, I am flooded with kind messages from people all over the world. When I scroll through my Facebook timeline, I see positive initiatives to make this world a better place. People are getting more altruistic these days and that behaviour is contagious too!

The coronavirus has impacted the world already on a large scale. Probably the coming months it might get a bit worse. However, if we keep respecting all the safety regulations and stay kind to each other. I am sure we can all overcome this!

Travel blog Byron Bay double rainbow Australia

How to proceed with Charlotte Plans a Trip?

In the coming months, you will just see new blogs on Charlotte Plans a Trip. We have more than enough experiences and information to share!

Our visitor numbers (and therefore income) have dried up, but I am sure that when all this is over, everyone will travel again. We try to stay positive and hope everyone stays healthy and safe during these, sometimes, lonely days.

Do you have a question and do you want to know more about a country? Or do you want to share your travel experience in times of the coronavirus? Let me know! You can do this via a comment below, an e-mail (click here), or by sending me a message via Instagram.

Anyway, I would really like it if you follow me on Instagram!

Warm regards,


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