Club Bébé Voyage’s very own Admin Lauren Strittmatter talks to us about the difficulties of preparing a family and a house for an international move during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Q. Could you tell us a little about you and your family?
A. We are a family of four; Lauren, Adam, Ace (6) and Cameron (3). We are US expats currently living in London, UK. Our permanent home is in the Philadelphia suburb of Berwyn, PA. My husband works in the financial industry and his job brought us here temporarily. I work in software and have been lucky enough to continue working for my company remotely while we’ve been relocated.
Q.How long have you been living in London?
A. It has now been two years since we originally moved to London from Pennsylvania.
Q.Why are you moving back to the U.S.? Why now and not wait until travel restrictions will be lifted?
A. Simply put, my husband’s expat contract was always scheduled for 18 months to two years. Since we’re now coming up to the two-year mark, it’s time for us to make our way back to the U.S. Expats are very expensive to employ and the plans have always been in place for him to transition out around this time. I will say that they haven’t been super pushy about us moving, but they also haven’t come out and said we can stay longer if we’d like. We’d also prefer to have all of the transition time fall over the summer months while my oldest son is on summer break.
Q. Did you need any special permission from your embassy to be able to make this move during Covid-19?
A. Not that I’m aware of.
Q. Do you have any tips on dealing with the embassy or other officials?
A.Not at this time as I haven’t needed to contact them.
Q.What has been the hardest thing to organize for this international move? Why?
A.The two most difficult things to organize for this international move have been flat showings and getting our movers scheduled. We’ve had to make significant adjustments to our current flat which is housing all four of us, 24 hours a day, because of the lockdown. All so someone could come take pictures and virtual tours. Have you ever had to pack away 80% of your kids’ toys and not let them touch anything just so your house looked nice? Not an easy task!
We also had to let outsiders in to take these photos and videos, which we didn’t feel comfortable with. Meanwhile, the movers/packers aren’t able to commit to specific dates just yet. They are still working through their backlog of families that were set to move during the first two months of the covid-19 lockdown. It’s possible that our original dates could get moved out because of that. Because of these moving dates, we can’t even book flights yet. Plus, who knows at this time if the flights will be canceled or not?
Q.What precautions are you going to take while traveling? Have you been given any official advice?
A. We haven’t been given any specific advice as of yet. I purchased masks for all four of us and we’ve been practicing with my children on getting used to wearing them. I’m really nervous about how I’m going to be able to keep a mask on a three-year-old for 10 plus hours of traveling. Luckily, I always sanitize like crazy when traveling, pack extra clothes, etc. I will continue to use those same habits during this trip. I’m grateful it’s a direct flight.
Q. Will you need to self-isolate once back in the U.S.?
A. I haven’t heard that we’ll need to self-isolate, but we have made the choice to do so anyway. Ideally, we would stay at my parents’ home until our furniture arrives but we obviously cannot do that now. I cannot put them at risk, especially since my mother has breathing problems. I do have concerns that between now and July the U.S. will implement more isolation rules such as mandatory quarantine in a hotel.
Q.Anything else you would like to add?
A. Originally, I had hoped that most travelers wouldn’t be flying when we have to, making me feel less nervous about potential exposure. Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, many people are still traveling and I expect the numbers to continue to grow between now and July. Currently, flights aren’t even going to our local international airport (PHL). Yet they are still selling tickets for these flights in July. I have made it clear that should a direct flight not exist come July, we will wait until we can fly direct to avoid additional transport of some kind to our home.
It is worth noting that my husband actually contracted Covid-19 in March, just as everything was closing and locking down. I assume he caught it while commuting to and from work on the Tube. He was extremely ill for 14 days and in the hospital. My oldest son also contracted it from him 7 days later, but had a much milder case. It seems my youngest son and myself have been spared for now. I would hate to make it this far and then become sick on the trip home. Or even worse, my husband becomes sick again after seeing what he went through the first time.
Bébé Voyage Disclaimer: The following article and all others related to travel during the Covid-19 pandemic are based on the experiences and views of the persons interviewed at the time of publication. As with any travel article published in Bébé Voyage, these views are published for informative purposes only. Bébé Voyage declines all responsibility related to actions taken by readers of the said articles. It is the reader’s responsibility to undertake travel plans that are in accordance with governmental, public health, and safety mandates at the time of travel.
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