A $5,000 Gamble
I do not gamble, and in fact, I am risk-averse. Since early 2020, I have restricted my travels due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. However, travelling is not always for discovering new places. More often than not, it’s visiting family and friends. My wife has longed to see her parents, and with the birth of our firstborn, my in-laws also longed to see him in person. FaceTime was just not enough. There is no replacement for physical contact. Two years of frustration and the desire to spend Christmas with my in-laws pushed me towards taking a $5000 gamble.
My in-laws live in another state, and for most of 2020 and 2021, due to border restrictions, we could not travel to see my in-laws.
In mid-December 2021, some COVID restrictions were eased. The new rules applying to travellers into the state are:
- Obtain a NEGATIVE PCR test result within 72 hours of travel
- Obtain a NEGATIVE PCR test result five days after arriving. If this test result is positive, I must quarantine in a state-provided facility that will cost us approximately $5000. As a consequence, I will be spending Christmas in quarantine.
- A POSITIVE COVID result will also require my in-laws to quarantine as they are considered close contact because we just spent five days with them. This in itself is a substantial financial burden on them because their gift shop will be closed because they are in quarantine. December is their most profitable month, and being closed for almost two weeks will significantly impact their bottom line.
My wife was shuttered after considering the new rules, and at first instance, we decided to stay put. Our main concern was risking our in-laws getting COVID becoming close contacts and/or getting a COVID infection.
After a few hours, it occurred to me that we could stay at an Airbnb for a week, obtain a NEGATIVE PCR test and then, go to my in-laws to spend Christmas. The risk of spending Christmas in quarantine is still very much present but at least our actions are not impacting my in-laws. After discussing this with my wife and consulting my in-laws, we decided to take this risk.
Within minutes, we rushed to the nearest COVID testing site and got tested. Even my 6-month son was tested. He was brave, only cried a little. While we anxiously waited for our results, I searched for accommodation and flights. Fortunately, our NEGATIVE COVID test results arrived 36 hours later, and I quickly booked a 7-night stay and one-way flights. Since we were catching a flight the following day, there was a lot that needed to be done.
Travelling with a baby is different, and there is a tone of things that a baby needs. By the time we slept that night, my whole body was mentally and physically tired. Gone are our days of travelling light.
Seven Day Airbnb Stay
My wife and I were needlessly worried about my son. Unlike other babies on the flight, my son slept the entire flight. Pretty proud of him. He is a good baby 😁
The Airbnb I booked was pretty small but had all the needed things. Most importantly, it had a clean kitchen, washing machine and dryer. We planned to stock up on groceries and make our meals. Thereby limiting our movement and reducing our chances of getting COVID. Remember, we have to undertake another COVID test on Day 5.
On our first night, we discovered that the packing cube that had my son’s clothes were left behind. My wife cried, and I was super disappointed with myself. How could we forget his clothes? I packed his clothes myself, but I must have forgotten to put them in my bag. At 8 pm, we rushed to the local shopping centre and bought new clothes for him. My wife washed and dried them. We slept at midnight, but at least we fixed our mistake.
I spent most of the day working. This Airbnb was not built for remote working, but I managed to tailor things to my needs. This is my setup, and it worked well:
I must say, the coffee machine provided a strong foundation for my standing desk setup. The Rooster Laptop stand has served me well for years and did not disappoint this time around as well. I missed my home office and was not as productive, but I feel I got enough done in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In most cases, these weeks are light on work because most people are in a festive mood.
Amazon Fire TV stick is my trusted travel companion. It is pretty good and easily connects to hotel wifi where others have failed (including the Apple TV). Thanks to the world of streaming services, we had abundant choices. Sometimes, I feel we spend more time looking for movies to watch rather than watching a movie. The new Dextor show was the highlight. It is such a good show, and I am glad it’s back after ten years. I also rewatched Matrix. All in all, these days, it’s pretty hard to get bored.
Day Five COVID TEST
The testing clinic opens at 7 am and we were there at 7:10 am. It was a drive-through site which meant I could stay in the comfort of my car. Despite getting there early, there were already 11 cars ahead of us. Unfortunately, it was also time for my daily constitutional and looking at the line; I was confident we would wait for a while. Sadly, I couldn’t wait any longer. My wife got on the driver’s seat, and thankfully the testing site had bathroom facilities.
Forty-five minutes later, we were on our way back to our Airbnb. The nurse who tested my son was not gentle, and he cried his lungs out. I almost lost my temper. I couldn’t see my son cry. My wife sensing this, promptly asked me to get the hell out of there.
Now the anxious wait begins. During this time, the local news reported that the labs are flooded with tests, and people are waiting for up to 5 days to obtain their results. This increased our stress levels, leading to an increase in wine 🍷 and beer 🍻 consumption. Again, luckily, 42 hours later, we got our results, and all three of us were NEGATIVE 🎉😁. We were delighted but mostly relieved. Everything is working as intended and in our favour.
Within hours of receiving our results, we packed our bags, checked out of the Airbnb and drove to our in-law’s place. However, before any of this, we danced a little. A dance 💃of joy 🤣.
Many things could have gone wrong but didn’t. We could have ended up in quarantine with a $5000 bill, and my son would spend his first Christmas in a government facility. Our gamble paid off.
We are staying with my in-laws for six weeks before heading back home. Seeing my wife reuniting with her parents was priceless. Seeing my in-laws playing with my son gives me so much joy. These moments are precious, and the risk taken was worth it. I would do it all over again. Family is of utmost importance to me.
The Omniron COVID variant is spreading rapidly, and we are super cautious. Meanwhile, I am spending quality time with family enjoying good food, great cocktails, with excellent company. Life is good, and I am grateful.