Our first year of nomading was completely smooth, with no travel disruptions. 2019 became difficult toward the end, and 2020 is starting out in flames – literally. Whether there’s a strike, a political incident or a natural disaster, how do you foresee it and how do you plan your next move?
Tourism Sites May Not Help You
Depending on the crisis and the politics of the nation, the local tourism site may not tell you what is going on. I’m in Australia, and many destination-specific tourism sites did not have information about the ongoing fires. They may not have felt they had the authority to post about things like fires; it’s not unusual for organizations to try to “stay in their lane.”
I had heard some information about the fires, but when making our (non-refundable) plans I leaned on the local tourism sites. If I’d focused on the local news sources, I probably would have made different plans.
The U.S. State Department Site (Or Your Nation’s Equivalent) May Not Help
Many travel sites will tell you to check the US State Department website for information on your destination. However, there’s a lot of information the State Department is behind on, or may not cover at all. For example, our travel was heavily impacted by the recent strikes in Finland, but (possibly because there wasn’t a threat of violence) this didn’t land on the State Department site.
Read the Local News (Even If It’s In a Foreign Language)
While I was in Finland, I started reading about the Posti strike that would eventually disrupt our travel in English-language news sources. As it became clear the strikes might expand to affect transport, I started using Google Translate to monitor the top local Finnish-language news media. Google Translate is by no means perfect, but you can get the gist enough to be aware of what’s going on.
What I was able to learn from the Finnish sources, which wasn’t clear from sources in English, was that our ship from Helsinki to Stockholm was likely to be canceled. There was also some chance that if we flew Finnair the flight wouldn’t go. With that information at hand, I was able to book a refundable flight and hotel room to cover the period of time we would have been traveling by ship. It was still stressful, but we had a Plan B that we could fall back on.
Like many of the Finns I was living among, I spent Sunday November 24, 2019 glued to the yle.fi live feed of the doors to the strike negotiating room (or as someone on Twitter called it, “Finland’s hottest reality show”). When the people came out, I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but I could read their expressions well enough to know what was going on. As soon as I got the news I filed for a refund for our ferry fare and solidified our alternate plans.
If I hadn’t been following the local news I probably wouldn’t have found out about any transport issues until about 12 hours before my ferry was due to leave, as it wasn’t officially cancelled until then. At that point, it would have been a scramble to make alternate plans. We also would have been competing with all the other people who had been blindsided by the strike. Following the local news made our lives easier.
Follow the Local Subreddit or Facebook Group
Most cities or regions have a Reddit group (known as a Subreddit) dedicated to individual cities. I didn’t start reading them until we got to Helsinki, but since then I’ve discovered they’re an invaluable resource. It was through the Finland subreddit that I began getting information about the strikes. The Brisbane subreddit has helped me keep up on any local fires and given me information about many other local incidents that I might not even learn about from local news.
Some Subreddits are geared more toward English-speakers; others are in the native language of the city. Like news sites, if you have Google Translate it will help you get the gist of things in a foreign language.
The world just keeps getting more unpredictable. If you’re traveling, you need to go beyond your regular news feeds, cultivate local sources in the places you’re going to and pay attention to what’s going on where you are and where you’re headed to. Using some of these sites will help you stay on top of what’s going on in whatever region you’re in.