The killing of time destroys eternity

"Traveling is my main occupation, so that hit me hard"


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"I felt safer abroad"

I have been traveling since June 2019 to recover from traveling. I had worked in consulting for a travel company, was constantly on the move and was close to burnout. So I quit - and decided to go to all the countries I hadn't been to before. That was 50. When Corona started, I was sitting in Moscow and wanted to continue to South Sudan. The country closed the day before departure and I flew back to the USA instead. At the time I was still missing four countries to have seen all 193 states belonging to the UN: Namibia, Nigeria, Cape Verde and Mozambique. I spent the next three months at home in Dallas. It wasn't easy for me to be so isolated and trapped. It was the first time in 14 years that I hadn't been out in such a long time. At the end of June I was able to buy a ticket to Portugal at short notice for a short trip with a friend. I was very nervous: Will the flight be canceled? Have I considered all the information? Will I possibly be sent back to the airport? And how high will the risk of infection be? But everything went well. In August I made it to Mexico to swim with sharks, later to Turkey and then actually, with some effort, to Namibia, Nigeria and Cape Verde. In December it was Mozambique's turn. I had achieved my goal. 193 countries - all seen. I cried and was incredibly proud of myself. Still, I hardly ever post any pictures from my travels. A friend of mine who continued to post while on the move accused people of being irresponsible and broke their friendship on Facebook. I have the feeling that we should be ashamed of traveling right now. In terms of the pandemic, I felt safer abroad than at home in Texas, where no one obeyed the rules.

Gina Morello, 50, from the USA finally managed to see all 193 UN countries in 2020.

"I'll be flying again for the first time in June"

When Corona came, I was sitting at home curing a broken foot from my last trip. In February 2020 I sailed with a small group of frequent travelers to the Islas Desventuradas, tiny islands about 1000 kilometers off the Chilean coast that hardly any traveler has set foot on. For April I had meticulously prepared a trip to Kazakhstan in order to visit all areas there that are individually counted in the ranking of the Most Traveled People. That would have moved me back to first place, past Charles Veley, the founder of the platform. Between 2013 and 2020 I was in first place for most of the time. Now I hope that I can make up for the trip in the fall. In June it will first go to Africa, to all regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, again with a small group of people who have traveled very far. I will be flying again for the first time in 16 months - the longest time in my adult life. Among other things, I spent my time at home watching various seasons of Mayday watch, a television series in which plane crashes are reconstructed. I can only recommend.

Don Parrish, 76, from the United States has long been the number one Most Traveled People.

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I mainly travel to crisis areas and countries with a bad reputation, which tourists often avoid. You seem more real to me. When Corona broke out, I was in Iran. Suddenly there were only a few hostels left that would take travelers like me. In my hostel there were people from Germany, the USA, Portugal, Italy, Dubai, Kenya, Tanzania. We told each other travel stories and cooked together. We weren't really afraid of Corona back then, we thought it would pass like a flu epidemic. We were more concerned about how to get home. The flights were very expensive, and not all embassies took care of their compatriots' return home. I was able to go back to India in April. But first had to be quarantined in a military building for 14 days with all the other Indians who came from Iran. When some of them got corona symptoms, the quarantine was extended. So it was only after a month that I was released. After that I sat at home for half a year. Traveling is my main occupation, so that hit me hard. I didn't get out until October, to Djibouti, then to Somalia until the end of November. I spent a month in Ethiopia, then stayed in Sudan until February. After two months in my Indian homeland, I was traveling for four weeks in Afghanistan, now I am traveling through Uzbekistan. Since Corona has been rampant, locals have often been afraid of travelers like me. They feel uncomfortable when you speak to them, they no longer take travelers into their homes, as I was used to. That is too bad. I have traveled through different countries with very high incidence values. And, of course, I'm also afraid of getting infected. But the hope that it won't hit me or that I've already had it is greater. I'm young, it sure wouldn't kill me.

Vishnu Saha, 21, from India published travel videos on YouTube as "Wandering Maniac".

"Quarantine in a Colombian hostel - luxury!"

I was stopping over in Germany when the pandemic arrived. On March 10, 2020 I flew to Colombia - still believing that I could escape Corona in this way. I wanted to start a long donkey hike there. Sometimes not riding a bike like the entire six years before. On March 20th, while I was still walking without a donkey, the police stopped me: "It's over!" Almost like in a cattle transport, I was loaded onto a pick-up truck and taken to the coastal city of Cartagena. There I had to go into quarantine with other travelers in a hostel. At least I was able to persuade the police not to send me back to Germany. All the other hostel guests flew home, I was left alone with an American. I was practically locked up there for ten weeks, was only allowed out once on certain days and then only within a radius of one or two kilometers. That was tough lockdown! But also a luxury for me: the year before I cycled through Africa, always very spontaneous, every day should be an adventure. And now I suddenly had a stove, refrigerator, Netflix, shower ... In June I was able to fly out to Florida and spent six months in the USA. I hiked half a mile of the Colorado Trail, paddled the Northern Forest Canoe Trail through New England, and walked about 1,200 miles towards Mexico on the Arizona Trail. When my six-month visa expired, I moved to Baja California, Mexico and moved into a small beach house - for four months, for me an eternity. I actually wanted to try a donkey hike there again, but couldn't find a suitable animal. Instead, I recently got a puppy. He's now on my latest tour. Since the end of April I have been hiking through the USA again, this time from Washington in the far northwest to Louisiana in the southeast. At the same time I am trying to collect donations for the environmental organization One Tree Planted. I will probably need until the end of October for the 5000 kilometers.

Heike Pirngruber, 49, from Germany blogs and travels as a "pushbikegirl" since 2013.