Yep, shit happens and we have no control over it. What we DO have control over is how we allow it to affect us. I have been doxed and found a way to make some awesome lemonade from them lemons. When bad things happen its easy to retreat to self-pity but that helps nothing. The real question is, how can I make the best of this situation?
Here is a perfect example from my life, right now. I am retired and on a fixed, and limited budget. I love travel and make that the highest priority in my yearly budget. As you know, I love biking in Asia and about six months ago planned a two week bike trek in Thailand with RedSpokes, a bike touring company I have used many times in the past. The tour plus airline tickets was about $4,500. To save money on airline tickets on trips like this I just get a roundtrip to a hub airport in Asia like HKG or SIN and then get cheap local flights from there.
Enter the Coronavirus. We Americans and Europeans are very, very lucky so far. Putting things in perspective, tens of thousands of people are DYING when for us westerners, it’s at most a minor inconvenience. This is a preface so that you realize I am not complaining, I am friggin LUCKY.
The glass half empty
So, I’m screwed. First let me make this clear: I do not want advice. I do not want or deserve sympathy. This is simply an example of how to look at the glass half full rather than half empty. OK, so my funds are limited and half my travel budget for the year was for this bike trek in Thailand. I am screwed. Because I make all my arrangements for a trip like this, all charges are separate. Because of this, if I cancel I will not get much, if any, money back. I am looking at losing about $4,000 for a trip I was really, really excited about.
As an aside, everything in life is a risk/benefit analysis and I still believe that for me personally, the very slight risk of contracting coronavirus and dying is worth the benefit. I am 60 years old and its unclear how many more years I will be able to do international biking treks like this. Its at the point where every day I wake up without back pain is a blessing.
For those about to say that I should have bought “travel insurance”. From experience, I can tell you that its a total waste of money. Even very legitimate claims like this one would have been are so mired in red tape that unless you have 10 hours every week for two months to hound them, you are not going to get your money. If you do, its at most earning minimum wage because of all the time you have to spend nagging them.
Without going into the full details, its looking nearly impossible to fly in and out. Eight days ago my flights thru Hong Kong were cancelled so I rescheduled everything thru Singapore which cost me $300 in change fees. Now half my Singapore flights have been cancelled, and worse yet, there are no flights at all from Phuket to Singapore for me to catch my flight home. I could reschedule with 3 connecting flights but then the danger of getting stranded rises dramatically.
So anyway, it looks like I am going to lose about $4000 and half my retirement trips for the year. Glass half empty.
The glass is half full!
OK. It sucks, get over it. How can I make the best of this situation? Two ways, first by realizing how lucky I am and second by finding ways to benefit from the situation.
Realize how lucky I am because:
- I avoided getting stranded in Asia by upcoming travel restrictions and cancelled flights which happen daily. Its happening so fast that consolidator websites like expedia and kayak still list the cancelled flights as available.
- I am healthy and unaffected by the coronavirus when thousands of people are dying.
How to benefit from the situation:
- I can use that two weeks to work on my airplane Dotty. I am getting very close to being ready for my final inspection and in two weeks, I could make a large amount of progress. The ultimate would be if I could make enough progress to take Dotty to the airport!
- I can use the two weeks to make progress on the house. We have a lot of work to do around getting our house tented for termites and this would be a great time to get it done. Sorting out 30 years worth of belongings and downsizing with a garage sale. Finishing the attic. Improving the garage.
- I could also see if the tour operator would let me switch to another of their tours that is not in Asia. Not sure of the chance of this being granted but you have to ask to find out. This could be an opportunity to branch out and do a kind of trip that I normally dont do.
- I can use this two weeks to focus on my health and nutrition. I am at 9% bodyfat and really want to get down to 7% bodyfat and having two weeks with total nutritional control will let me make a great start. My cutting motivation.
- I get to spend more quality time with my husband and our puppy dog!
Again, putting things into perspective here – this is a crisis in China. I can’t tell you how sad this makes me knowing that some of the amazing people who made my bike treks in China so enjoyable are probably sick or dying. Some of my best bike treks have been in China because it is a beautiful vibrant country unlike any other. The people are amazing and the remote villages have a charm unspoiled by tourism. I have not yet found any concrete way for US Citizens to provide assistance at this point but when I do, I will let you know.
One thing that Americans need to realize is that you need to separate the people from the government. Just as the views of President Trump or former president Obama do not necessarily represent the American people, the views of President Xi Jinping do not necessarily represent the Chinese people. The energy in this dance kind of sums it up for me: