Home Podcast 14: To Travel or Not to Travel? + Expanding the Definition of Travel

14: To Travel or Not to Travel? + Expanding the Definition of Travel

written by Sam and Veren July 2, 2020
14: To Travel or Not to Travel? + Expanding the Definition of Travel

In this episode, we’ll talk about the question on all travelers’ minds: to travel or not to travel right now?

As things are opening up in varying degrees around the world, this is a question on many travelers minds. Is it safe to travel? Should I travel? What should I be thinking about?

It’s not responsible to be advocating anything along the lines of “travel is back!!” without many serious caveats. Trust us – travel is our livelihood, so we wish this weren’t the case. But travel is what spread this virus in the first place, and the U.S. still is falling seriously short in keeping the virus controlled.

Early re-opening with lax restrictions has led to an increase in cases in more than half of U.S. states. That means more unnecessary deaths, more unnecessary suffering. This isn’t about whether YOU think you’ll be fine, it’s about whether you could possibly spread covid-19 to others, especially in communities that don’t have the resources to handle a higher case load.

But that doesn’t mean we all have to continue to stay in our houses, day in and day out. We tackle the topic of the current state of travel, the questions you should be asking yourself, how to scratch the travel itch (safely), and more in today’s episode of the Alternative Travelers Podcast!

Subscribe and listen to The House Sitting Travel Podcast below or on your favorite podcast app. Just search House Sitting Travel in your app of choice or click these links: Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher.

We’ll Talk About:

  • The current situation here in the U.S.
  • The questions you should be asking yourself when deciding whether to travel or not
  • Assessing low risk vs high risk states
  • What contact tracing is and why it’s crucial for slowing the spread (as well as why this is relevant for travel)
  • How to expand your definition about travel
  • Different ways to travel locally
  • How to be safe when exploring your local area
  • Why local travel is sustainable travel
  • How to support your local economy and local businesses
  • How to safely house sit right now (and where)
  • Questions to ask when discussing house sits
  • ad more!

Links + Resources Mentioned

Transcript: To Travel or Not to Travel?

Sam: Hi and welcome back to the Alternative Travelers podcast! Today, we are going to talk about a question that is on many travelers’ minds as things start to open up: to travel or not to travel? That is the question. So we have lots of opinions about this and we’ve been talking about this between us for weeks – months actually at this point.

But now that things have started to open up, we feel that this is a conversation we need to have with you guys. So we’ll be sharing our thoughts and recommendations based on all of the expert advice and things we’ve been seeing and trends we’ve been watching.

So we hope this helps you as you’re contemplating what is safe to do now. What should you do? So I guess we’ll just start off by setting the scene of what’s going on. As guys know, we’re here in the US and if you’ve been seeing the news at all, that it’s kind of a shit show over here. So Veren could you kind of set the scene with what’s going on here in the US?

Veren: I think it’s really important to understand that if you’re not in the US, don’t assume that the world is going according to how things are wherever you are. I mean, in the US there’s just no unified leadership on the national federal level. There just isn’t and so all the states have been left to their own devices on how to figure this all out.

This is a global public health issue that’s affecting everybody, some more than others, but everyone at a minimum – you would think that everyone would be taking things seriously. But unfortunately it’s become heavily politicized here, with one state not doing a good job and another state doing a good job and a lot of states not doing anything.

It’s just a big mishmash of policies and containment strategies. It really complicates things for a lot of people because there’s not a clear message out there about how to approach things and what the science is on this. Depending on where you’re listening to and getting your news, you can have a very different sense of what’s going on in the US.

The question if you’re traveling or want to travel or going to travel that you really should be asking yourself is – is it safe to travel? That itself needs to be broken down a bit because you need to think about where you’re coming from and where you’re going to. Are you leaving a high-risk area to a low-risk area, are you going from a low-risk area to high-risk area?

Every state is reporting differently, some are being accused of not reporting all their numbers in terms of infection rates, hospitalization rates, these are all important numbers to kind of assess this safety of where you’re going right now.

Going outside in New York City isn’t such a dangerous thing to do anymore, like it was back in March. Things have changed. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s safe for you to go to any city because a lot of different cities are handling things differently. So it’s really important that you think about where you’re coming from and where you’re gonna go.

Sam: Yeah, we wanted to have this conversation because things are so different here in the US and within the States as compared to the UK, Europe, Asia, literally everywhere else. I mean, we’re poster children for the worst-case scenario in the US. I think that’s hard for a lot of people elsewhere to grasp. You can see things in the news, but most people aren’t necessarily looking at that. And what gets exported internationally isn’t what’s really going on on the ground.

So people are talking about opening up travel within Europe or the UK or Asia. They’ve been able to travel for a while now in New Zealand, they’ve got like no cases there. So the situation is different everywhere, but the US is in a uniquely terrible situation right now. So we’re going to be speaking from being here in the US, but also everything we’re going to be talking about is applicable no matter where you are and considering to travel.

But again, obviously look at what local authorities are recommending. Here in the US, the CDC is not recommending leisure travel at all. So, does that mean that you can’t leave your house now? No it doesn’t. We’re beyond that at this point, but does that mean that you should be booking a flight to another state?

No, it doesn’t.

I know everyone is being super antsy right now to be out there just say fuck it, let’s travel somewhere. I don’t care. I just need to get out and that’s understandable. It’s been unique circumstances, but try to look at what you are trying to get out of this potential vacation, if you’re considering flying somewhere else or driving several states away or whatever. What do you need to get out of that? Is it to get away from your apartment? What is it about?

Because like I said, the CDC is not recommending leisure travel and lots of people unfortunately are doing leisure travel right now. I mean half of the US states are increasing in their numbers right now and I’m not surprised whatsoever. We’re not surprised, because when we were in Utah, things opened up so fast.

We talked about it in previous episodes, but they had a good handle on it and then they just were like okay, “it’s fine the virus doesn’t exist here” and so they opened up restaurant dining literally May 1st.

So here in New York State, only certain areas of the state are able to do very limited capacity indoor dining, and New York City isn’t even at that point yet. I think they can do outdoor space terrace dining but yeah, so Utah and other states like that really screwed up and we saw it first hand. So it’s really not surprising to see that their case numbers are increasing and from what we saw in the ground and the numbers, is that people just are throwing all cautions of wind.

I mentioned this in another episode, but when we were still in Salt Lake City, people were having tackle football games of like 30-40 people. That is a recipe for covid spread. We’ve been listening to a lot of stuff, a lot of experts, and what they’re saying is that one person within that group could spread it to everyone and those people spread it to their families This spreads really quickly because it spreads when you don’t have symptoms. So you think you’re fine and then a few days later you get sick, but you’ve already spread it to a bunch of people because you’ve been acting like you haven’t been sick. So basically, we all need to be acting like we are potentially a little covid-19 transmitters.

Veren: Yeah, I think the big mistake a lot of these other states that were doing well to begin with was one they let it get too politicized, which definitely happened in Utah. But two, they waited till things stabilized and then decided to change the levels of restrictions, which is not what you should do.

The reason New York City’s now been so successful is they waited for the data, they waited for the numbers to go down for a while before you ease into anything else. That gives you time to ramp up your testing, ramp up your contact tracing program, which is non-existent in many states. This is key to containing, controlling, maintaining, and stabilizing. So the mistake a lot of these places made was that they decided to open up once things stabilized.

But you want it to be already decreasing for a while, so a lot of these places let their success get to their head and figured, “oh, maybe it’s not that bad.” And now they’re trying to explain away why they’re all of a sudden having all these increases.

With Utah being a travel hotspot, in general people like to travel there from a state over it, so it gets a lot of travel that way.

Sam: –yeah, southern Utah especially, for all the national parks.

Veren: Absolutely. I think the main thing that we’ve learned is that you have to ask yourself, “is it low risk versus high risk?”

Right now, there hasn’t been a lot of time that scientists have been able to study this. Usually they have years to study diseases, so that’s why certain things have changed and it seems like things are changing. But the general consensus that we are moving towards things is that it’s way safer outside than it is inside. If you can manage to distance from people, you can actually be okay without a mask. However when you’re inside, it always increases dramatically in risk because the air doesn’t move as much.

However there are exceptions, like on a plane, they have the same circulation system that you have in a hospital, so the air gets renewed every few minutes or something like that.

So it’s actually not as high risk to fly in a plane as one would think, provided that everyone’s wearing masks and following all the recommendations. So it’s really important to understand that when you decide, “all right, we’re gonna go drive an hour to this nearby state park and do some camping.” That’s pretty low risk, you’re gonna probably be able to maintain distance and stay away from people. But if all of a sudden, it’s more than a weekend and that place is packed, maybe that’s not the smartest place to go.

Sam: Yeah, there’s just been some photos circulating from the UK because they’ve just opened up travel past five kilometers of your house. The beaches were fucking packed, absolutely packed, which sounds like a nightmare regardless of covid.

So I just wanted to go back and ask you, Veren, to explain better what contact tracing is. You explained it to me the other day and I don’t think I fully grasped what that means and why it’s so important. There’s this really awesome website that you shared with me and you can see all the different ways that a state is handling the outbreak and how well they’re doing in certain areas.

New York State now is doing great, they’re green and so much of the country is red and orange, which means not doing as well. And New York’s contact tracing is really high, they’re doing really well, but I don’t think a lot of people understand what that means and what that looks like.

I know I didn’t, so could you explain that?

Veren: so essentially what contact tracing is is training people to get in touch with people who have tested positive and finding out all the people they’ve been in contact with. So naturally, it really helps if we’re already social distancing, so that way you’re minimizing your contact with other people.

A contact tracer might get assigned to many people. The idea is that you have enough contact tracers to be able to contact a person and then find out everyone they’ve been in touch with or been in contact with, and then contact all those people to self quarantine. Then you can figure out maybe who else they’ve been in touch with.

A way that a country can still stay functioning while there’s a pandemic is to have the number so low, the transmission rate so low, because everyone that has it stays quarantined until their symptoms are gone. Then they test negative for it two or three times after. So that’s why you need the contact tracing in conjunction with all the high testing.

Then you can essentially account for everyone who has it, and the people who have it have to stay in. Whoever suddenly gets it has to stay in self quarantine. Then we can keep the economy open, you can keep the rest of the world open, but until you do that, it’s just anybody’s guess and that’s what makes this so particularly hard and difficult for people to cope with.

The US federal response was so crappy and even on state levels, so insufficient, that it’s on us to be responsible. Yes that sucks and that’s shitty but right now we’re the ones that essentially have to play the role of a contact tracer. We need to keep track of who we’re in touch with and minimize it as much as possible.

Sam: Yeah, so I think a lot of people have been thinking that we can’t do anything until we have a vaccine. That is still six to eight months to year plus out. But content tracing and testing is how we can open things up again.

But to bring it back to how this is relevant to travel, for example, New York recently has said that they don’t want anyone coming from other places coming in and potentially starting a spread again.

So I know a lot of high alert states, now if you come from one of those states to New York, you have to be quarantined. I think you may get assigned a contact tracer or something like that. So traveling between states right now and between countries too is just not smart, even if you’re just thinking selfishly of yourself.

If you go to a high-risk state and come back to a low-risk state you would have to quarantine potentially. I know that no one wants to necessarily go back to hardcore quarantine. If you’re going from a higher risk state to a lower risk state, you could potentially be bringing it over there.

Again, you think you may be fine, but an important thing that we really need to stress is that is not about you. It’s not just about you. We’ve talked to a lot of people that are like, “yeah, I think I’d be fine so I’m just gonna go.”

It’s not about you. It’s about the collective. You could bring it somewhere else. That’s why you need to be safe. That’s why we need to care about this.I know that Americans especially hate having their liberties infringed on. But I want to remind any Americans listening to this that everywhere else, so many places, had severe lockdowns. Could not go out of your house. The UK, now they’re able to go five miles from their house, like I mentioned earlier.

We never had anything like that here. And maybe we should have. People aren’t taking this seriously and as things are opening up again, it’s just free reign.It just drives me crazy to see people talking about flying right now. I think for the most part, most people that I’m in touch with are being smart about it.

So if you’re listening to this episode may already be on that side of things, but it’s also important to talk to people and stress this within your friend group and your family, if they’re thinking about wanting to do more, throw caution to the wind travel.

So I wanted to bring it back to what I mentioned earlier, which is to think about what you’re trying to get out of travel and how you can still scratch that itch so to speak, without hopping on a plane and going somewhere completely new.

So what does that look like Veren?

Veren: So assuming that you can travel, how do you minimize risk and how can you do it in a way that is without endangering other people? The big theme is go local.

Sam: This is the age of local travel. I know a lot of people probably thinking right now, “there’s nothing by me. I don’t want to do that. I just want to go somewhere fun.” Let’s be a little more creative.

Veren, in one of our last episodes, you said that we’ve got to expand our definitions and expectations from travel. I think that was a really important point to make. This is something that I think we’ve always tried to say – expand your definition of travel.

What does that mean? What does that look like? Why are you traveling? Just do some self-inquiry around that and see how you can make that happen in a local way. We all need to be flexible and adaptable right now and humans, that is a human trait.

I think we’re very adaptable. It’s just that sometimes our mind gets in the way and we’re so fixated on what we wanted to do that we can’t even see the plentiful options that we have in front of us.

So whatever it is, I would wager a guess that you could make that happen. For example, how could people… that look like Veren?

Veren: So there’s a lot of things you can do locally. We could argue that all the things that you go somewhere else to do to travel you can do closer to home.

There’s nothing that you’re doing that’s exclusive to those areas. So specific examples might be to take a day trip, go to a town over and check out what the history is over there. I know there’s lots of people who hardly explore their own surroundings. I mean, I can say this coming from New York City, where most people haven’t even seen most of the city, but love to talk about how great of a place it is. But they don’t go beyond a few blocks of where they live. There’s so many nooks and crannies within a place that you can go and check out on a bike very safely.

I mean, if you’re on your bike, you’re generally gonna be social distancing. Take a mask with you, take some hand sanitizer with you. There’s so many things that you can check out right next door or in a town over. You can make that a day trip for example.

Sam: yeah and if you don’t live in a city, explore the countryside, explore nearby little towns, explore different hikes, if you’re into hiking. Whatever it is.

A lot of places aren’t necessarily open if you’re more of a museum goer, museums might not be open, but you might need to get a little more creative. Read up on your local area. I bet you can find some books about your local area and just to learn some bit about the local history. Maybe you can find some videos, documentaries on the region as a whole, I don’t know. There’s so many ways to inform yourself and be creative instead of just being like. “I can’t do this, wah.”

Veren: yeah for example, when we were in Salt Lake City, we found out about some outdoor parks that were really interesting. What was it called, the international park or something?

Sam: yeah international peace gardens in Salt Lake which is this cute little city park that’s free. It was put together by a women’s coalition in the forties, which is pretty cool, and has all these different little areas dedicated to different countries. Local organizations like the Korean citizens of Salt Lake City, I don’t know if that’s the thing but just an example, they put together a little Korean garden. There was a little Matterhorn, a little mountain, from Switzerland. That’s just an example. There’s all these different countries, probably 20-25 different countries represented there.

That was just a fun little thing to go into. There’s so much to explore and I have faith in you guys as alternative travelers to find all these creative things to do.

We’re gonna keep sharing different ways that you can explore your local area as we explore ours here in Buffalo. And I know a lot of people are doing local travel already. I mean with our website, more people are reading about US travel, which is great. We’re gonna keep writing stuff and putting out episodes on alternative destinations in the US to visit if they’re nearby or just for some vicarious travel for now.

Again, this isn’t how things are gonna be forever, it’s just that we need to be creative right now, we need to adapt right now. We need to think outside of ourselves right now. Yes, I know it’s bummer if you can’t go on that vacation you had planned for this year.

But you’ll be fine and I have faith in you. You can do it.

Veren: yeah and for those more ethically more responsibly inclined travelers, local travel is a great form of sustainable travel. These little towns that maybe had their heyday in the past or whatever. But local tourism is a thing.

A lot of people think that travel means going across an ocean and not necessarily. There’s so many little places around that could really use your business and it’s important to think about that. Instead of paying to take whatever flight to wherever, why don’t you just put that money towards that road trip you’re gonna take or just even a day trip.

Maybe go eat at this one restaurant you never thought of checking out that maybe has a little bit of history and it has a patio. There’s so many options with this,

Sam: Yeah, exactly. Support your local economy because I guarantee it’s struggling right now regardless of if it depended on tourism normally or not.

It just reminded me of our favorite recent show, BoJack Horseman. There’s an episode or a couple episodes where the main character Bojack goes and spends some time in a lake town in Michigan. Someone he met there was like, “yeah we used to get a ton of tourism here, local tourism in the summers, but now everyone takes a flight to Europe.” So in this lake town, all the cabins were boarded up and no one really came there anymore. So there’s a lot of places that have gone forgotten as everyone wants to think of travel as you have to get on a plane to go somewhere. I say this and I certainly felt that way for a really long time until I met Veren actually.

I always thought travel meant that I had to get on a plane and go elsewhere, usually to Europe because I love Europe. But there’s so much to explore in your own backyard.

And you can feel better knowing that you’re supporting small local businesses. Everyone’s craving human interaction these days. The other day, I had gone to a local little shop here in Buffalo and it was all local artists with Buffalo themed little gifts and stuff like that. I was just chatting with one of the artists there and it was great to support local artisans.

So just talking to people and hearing their struggles. I guarantee you’ll feel better about your local travel when you interact with people and see who your money is supporting.

Obviously this is all assuming you have the money to do so, which is a big caveat given the current state of the economy and everyone losing their jobs. So I want to recognize that obviously. But still, even if you are hurting for money right now, but you’re wanting to get away, like Veren said, take a day trip or go biking around if you’re in a city. We love doing that. It’s one of our favorite ways to explore the city. If you’re not in a city again, just going for a local hike, there’s plenty of things you can do that are free too.

Veren: Yeah, walking is my favorite thing. Often, many people who complain about feeling cooped up, it’s not because they’ve been seeing the entire city. I mean, I know people who are in New York City who feel cooped up and feel the need to leave and the place is massive! You could spend days just walking around neighborhoods you’ve never been to before and admiring architecture.

One of the things we love to do is walk through neighborhoods. It really gives you a real sense of a place to have seen most of it on foot. I can say that for a lot of New Yorkers, there’s so much in that city to explore and you can do that safely now. If what you want is a change of scenery, usually it means actually going beyond a few blocks from your place from your errands, which is going to the grocery store or the laundromat, step out your door and walk somewhere. Come on, that’s the easiest, least expensive way to do any travel.

Sam: Yeah, you can make it an adventure, do some urban adventuring if you’re in a city and you feel cooped up. There’s infinite amounts to explore. Make it some challenge for yourself – every Saturday (for example) go explore.

We’re going to keep sharing more with you to keep you inspired and give you some more ideas and if you have ideas for what you’ve been doing with your local travel, definitely let us know send us a message.

Veren: I also want to emphasize how much of a benefit in some regard it is to a lot of the world that there’s been a decrease in international tourism. A lot of places were experiencing overtourism. Now some of those places, where they were converting so many units into Airbnbs, now they’ve gone back into the housing market and have become more affordable for locals to actually live in. We have a personal example of our friend Cepee

Sam: Yeah yeah no because we used to live in Madrid and there’s been an Airbnb crisis there, a lot of European cities have Airbnb crisis, I’m sure we’re gonna have to do an episode all about Airbnb at some point. But yeah, a friend of ours was able to move into a bigger nicer apartment that she could afford because it used to be an Airbnb but now they’re no Airbnb tourists. So this decrease in overtourism has benefited locals in a lot of ways. It’s benefited the environment.

But at the same time there’s so many people, ourselves included whose livelihood is tied up in the tourism industry. Tourism can be great, travel can be great, that’s why I’ve never necessarily said that everyone should only do local travel because I think it can expand your horizons.

Right now, I think only local travel, as we’ve been talking about, is the only option that we should be considering. But as we start to think of a new normal. I think what that could look like is that you travel locally and regionally and nationally for most of your travels, and maybe do one international trip a year or something.

Try to go to lesser known destinations, which is again why we’re doing our alternative destination series. We want to highlight some of these lesser known spots that you might not have thought of visiting before but that could equally use some tourism dollars.

So instead of the typical vacations, just again thinking outside the box. We want to always encourage you guys to think outside the box. Like Veren said, local travel is sustainable travel; it’s really a big part.

Veren: Yeah hopefully this time now can be used towards working towards a much much better more responsible, ethical travel industry. Honestly when profit is the motive most of these places aren’t going to care, they’re not going to take that upon themselves. But if people as consumers take that responsibility to make more informed choices and be more responsible about their travel and not to see it as “I’ve worked all year, I’ve earned this, so I can go do whatever I want,” that entitled attitude is what’s really damaging tourism in a lot of places.

So we’re not saying don’t travel. We’re not saying that travel is bad. We’re saying don’t just go the way that you’ve always been going about it and don’t just do what everyone else is doing. Think about your travel, challenge yourself and really try to expand your concept of what travel is and what travel gives you. Recognize that this is a good time for that transformation or reformation or whatever words you want to use.

Sam: Yeah, it’s a great time for personal reflection, which is I think part of why everyone wants to get out of their house. They want to get out of their own heads because it’s hard to do personal reflection, but it could be this time can be a real opportunity for that if you desire to take it.

Veren: I think that leads to our next very travel related subject because it’s what we do, people are going to be wondering: well then what if we’re doing? If you’re talking about travel, what about house sitting? And we want to reiterate again: remember we’re still in the pandemic whether people want to act like we are or not. That’s not the facts, that’s not science, that’s just what people feel like and we can’t confuse the two. Okay, we’re still in the pandemic and that means still taking some serious precautions.

Sam: Yeah, we’ve covered house sitting and in other episodes but as the situation is constantly changing and we’re talking about to travel or not to travel, it’s only natural to say to house sit or not to house sit. It’s more or less where we’ve been talking about in this episode already.

If you should house sit or not, house sit locally. If you’ve already been a house sitter, like us, if you’ve already been doing a lot of house sitting, when is the time to jump right back into it? Say you’re a full-time house sitter like we are. Now is not the time to jump back into full-time house sitting I don’t think, well not in the US. Maybe in the UK, where things are a little closer and there’s just more house sits available.

But full-time house sitting, I don’t think so. We’re not jumping back into it, so what kind of house sitting can you do? Local house sitting. See if there’s any houses in your local area. This is actually something that we’ve always been recommending and when we talk to people who want to start house sitting. So say that you haven’t house sat at all.

If it’s something that you’ve thought you might be interested in the past, this could potentially be a time for you to try it out locally. Again, you want to see if that’s a possibility in your area. If there aren’t a lot of house sits popping up, then you want to be aware of that. But it could be a good time to get some new house sits under your belt.

Veren: Initially, after a couple months in from the pandemic, we started to see an increase in house sits, just what’s available online. We saw that steadily, noticeably, nothing huge, but it was starting to increase. Then when things started to spike, when infection rates started to spike, in a whole bunch of states now, we’re noticing the US that those (house sits) have started to go down again.

So not only if you’re thinking about if you should house sit, you also need to consider can you house sit? So that means keeping tabs on house sits within your reach, whatever that may be. If you have a car and it’s easy to drive around, you do that. Or if you’re in a city and maybe you want to house sit locally.

Right now, local house sitters absolutely have an advantage. We’ve noticed that in many cases, pet owners have preferred to choose someone who’s local, regardless of their experience. So over someone who maybe has a ton of experience like us because they just feel that safer. While that’s not necessarily true, what ultimately in matters in the end is what they feel safe about. So if they’re gonna go with local house sitters, that’s their choice and we want always people to be going with what they feel is the safest option.

So if you’re gonna house sit, take a look at what’s available in your area, but very likely what’s gonna work for you, especially if you’re starting out or you’ve only had one or two house sits to continue doing stuff, that’s really really local.

Sam: Yeah, this could be a good time to just start planning. Say that you’ve had in your head, “oh I wanted to go into full-time house sitting or I want to do house sit as a way to travel on my vacations.” If you want to do it in the future, now could be the time to be planting the seeds, even if there are no house sits available you can still be learning.

You can start learning. We’re going to be doing more house sitting updates and stuff or reading our book, The House Sitting Handbook or just seeing what house sits are out there and what you might be interested in. So say that you want to arrange a house sit and you have, then you want to be obviously super safe about it. So you arrange a local house sit in your region.

We’re open to doing house sits within New York state, say we explore a different little area for a weekend or something. That’ll be interesting but that doesn’t mean we’re gonna throw all caution to the wind. Again, you got to be safe about this.

So if you want to find house sits in a safe way and you want to arrange them and go through with them in a safe way, you gotta just keep the same protocols as you would when you’re doing anything. So you want to be talking about covid with the pet owners.

And if you’re a pet owner listening, you want to talk about it with your house sitters. Can you talk about what kinds of protocols people might wanna do, Veren?

Veren: Yeah, now more than ever, it’s really important that you are as safe as you possibly can be and take all the necessary precautions. So for example, I think you should really look at house sits and try to go for ones that already acknowledge that the pandemic has happened and is existing and that there’s precautions that need to be taken.

Unfortunately most the house sits we see listed have no mention of anything and often they don’t want to talk about it until they start getting to the interview process. On one level I think it is understandable, but it’s just strange to look at house sits and not see any. Based on just looking at house sits, if that was your way to look into the state of the world, you would think there’s no pandemics going on. Not even like, “hey, things are subject to change in case numbers spike if we have another lockdown, “ – none of that. Most of them overwhelmingly don’t mention anything about covid 19 and the outbreak.

So that being the case, make sure in your message when you apply to bring it up. Start that conversation and do this as soon as you can. We interviewed for a house sit once and what they did was that they took their initial applicant pool and they clearly messaged back people who they were interested in and once they did that decided to acknowledge what’s going on with covid. But when we had our conversation, there were things they didn’t even think about.

For example, this is a question you should be asking everyone, “what do we want to do if you get sick or if I get sick?

They didn’t even think about that. And unfortunately, a lot of people think this is not going to happen to them. This is just something that happens everywhere else and this is why we got into this shit hole begin with. This attitude that pandemics happen everywhere else.

So an important thing to be talking about is: What precautions would you prefer me to take in order to successfully have this house sit? So some people might say they want you to get tested. If that’s the case be like, “Sure no problems, so do you.” Both sides can get sick. So don’t don’t fall into the trap of you doing all the legwork. Both people should.

We’ve had a pet owner reach out to us that wanted us to house sit for them and they said that they were willing to get tested and that’s great. That should be the standard. But that was the one exception we’ve experienced. So be ready to have that question asked and be prepared to potentially have to do that.

You might want to decide, are we going to have a hand over where we actually meet in person or are we going to have a virtual handover where they leave you the keys somewhere you get in there, you get your laptop out your phone to Skype and then you guys do a virtual tour of the place and go through the routines. That’s a very real possibility.

And then definitely get to figure out that question: what happens if one of you gets sick. If you get sick, is this person going to be like, “sorry get out of my house when I need to come back.” But what if they get sick? Are you going to be able to stay longer or what agreement are you going to?

So that’s a really important extra step. So if you’re gonna house sit, you need to acknowledge these things and also accept the possibility that a lot of people who are insisting on still house sitting at this time might not be the most responsible people. They might not be people who are taking this very seriously.

Sam: Yeah, I think it’s really telling that we saw a lot of house sits happening a few weeks ago when stuff started opening up and now there’s crickets here in the US anyway. That’s what we’re monitoring because we’re here, but I’m sure the situation is different in Europe and the UK. But again, I think I’ve seen cases rising in the Balkans because they didn’t have very strict measures in place at all and people were flying over there.

Like, come on, what I just don’t understand what people think is gonna happen. Flying to different places with no protocols in place is literally how we got here. So if you want to extend how long we’re gonna be in this limbo, then fly around all you want.

If you wanna be responsible and a part of society that cares about others, you gotta take precautions. That might mean just chilling out a little bit. So yeah about house sitting, like with the travel thing, we just don’t recommend flying somewhere else to do a house sit.

What are you even gonna be doing there anyway? Whether you’re house sitting or whether you’re traveling, what are you even gonna be doing there anyway, really? A lot of places they’re closed. It’s not gonna be the same, just save your money and have a baller vacation in 2021.

So think of it that way. I know humans are all about immediate gratification. I think especially Americans. But you might need to flex those patience muscles right now. I say that if someone who’s generally pretty impatient, Veren can attest.

Veren: Yes.

Sam: So yeah, we just I think you can tell how strongly we want to emphasize this. We’ll link to a lot of the things that we’ve been listening to, a lot of expert interviews, just to understand how the scientific knowledge is coming together on what best we can do, where it spreads, what precautions we should be taking.

So today it came out that the EU is considering blocking US arrivals, and I think that’s a good fucking thing. The US and so many Americans are up in arms about it. But Americans have the biggest passport privileges, some of the biggest passport privileges in the world, we get to go wherever the hell we want super easily. No visas, or it’s super easy to get a visa.

So I think personally that it’s a big wake-up call if the EU bans Americans for a while. Because nothing makes people have to rethink what they’re doing than when they’re literally forced to. So I think that would be a smart move on the EU’s part, because that’s what needs to happen. If a country doesn’t have their shit together, they can’t go spread it elsewhere.

So anyway, I’m working myself up, but hopefully we’ve given you a lot to think about here. In terms of should you be traveling or not? How you can be traveling in a safe way, locally, different ways to think outside the box, and if you should be house sitting or not and how you can go about doing that safely.

So do you have anything else to add Veren?

Veren: Yeah of course I always have an opinion to add. I think we’re seeing the real trade-offs of American individualism right now here in the States. God forbid anyone tells an American what they can or can’t do. Now we’re seeing the consequences of that behavior.

People talk about a second wave where there hasn’t really been any first wave finishing. We’re having a rebound wave, it never stopped building. This entitled attitude and unwillingness to have any level of sacrifice in order to help save the community is just the biggest demonstration of American privilege and a lot of times honestly white privilege that this country has demonstrated in recent times.

So if you want to tie it into current events with all the protests and stuff, you can absolutely tie it in with that. We have a community and we should be responsible for our communities and that doesn’t mean you’re a communist, okay? Come on, man. This is ridiculous.

It doesn’t matter how you feel or if you think your rights are being trampled. Covid-19 doesn’t give two shits. It’s not an entity that’s thinking about that, but if it is, it’s just like, “oh my god. I love Americans.”

So try to be responsible. Now more than ever, we’re gonna learn the consequences of this collective misbehavior. I guess you could say. I’m personally glad that the international community on some level is gonna hopefully penalize the US, the wealthiest country in the world and we’re acting like a bunch of babies.

So rant over. I hope you feel informed from this podcast.

Sam: Alright, that’s a perfect place to leave it. So we’ll link to everything you mentioned in the show notes and catch you next time.

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