We should have known in early February, when we evacuated my mom from China. We were in a small town in Colombia then with no running hot water, a world away.
When we crossed the border into Nicaragua, a doctor came running up to me frantically, but it turned out he was more concerned about my yellow fever card than anything else.
By the time we reached Panama, the stock market was crashing. In Costa Rica, the last stop on our South America trip, we saw tourists wearing masks for the first time.
We flew back to Boston on March 10. Days later, cancellation requests on our Airbnb started flying in. We went from 90% occupancy to zero.
In May, emboldened by the city’s new eviction moratorium, one of our tenants decided to stop paying rent, even though she still had a job.
By June, every airline had cancelled our summer flights but refused to refund us. Our stimulus checks never came, and our health insurance didn’t cover us inside the US.
It was a panicky time, but we did not do anything rash, like sell our stocks. Over the next few months, we worked round the clock to get health coverage and our affairs in order.
I filed a small claims case against my tenant and won many months later. Thankfully she left at the end of her lease and we found new, better tenants. Our other tenants continued to pay rent despite the eviction moratorium, but the new law still prompted us to get involved with local government and make our voice heard.
Aaron contacted the Department of Transportation and EU authorities about the airlines that were withholding refunds, which got us our money back instead of vouchers.
We dropped prices on our Airbnb and marketed to longer term guests. To our surprise, bookings started to return, not quite at pre-pandemic levels, but benefiting from a new trend – remote workers Airbnb hopping around the country.
I also got my mom two free flights from JetBlue in a giveaway for healthcare professionals. She’ll be heading to Bozeman, Montana and Yellowstone, normally one of the most expensive domestic flights from the east coast.
Most importantly, we got to spend lots of time with family, which has been the highlight of the year.
By fall the things demanding our attention had lightened up enough for us to start taking a few domestic trips. We went to Maine, Chicago, and NYC to see what life was like outside of Boston. Next we’ll head to Florida to work on a real estate design project.
Having so many things go wrong all at once showed us the strength and weaknesses of our nomadic lifestyle. We learned a lot, which will help us going forward. We’re grateful for our health, and glad we traveled as much as we did before the pandemic. We plan to continue doing so as soon as it’s safe.