• Helen Avaient

Plans, signs and COVID

This is a story of a sign, a message, and a reminder to Go For It.


After successfully avoiding catching COVID for over two years, I finally succumbed and caught a heavy dose of it. Like a bad cold, I coughed and sneezed, head pounding, nose running, and went to bed for several days. However, mine was not the familiar bed of home.

I was away working, and had to quarantine in a hotel. Not a fancy five star hotel, but a country town hotel with only a view from my door of the carpark and freedom beyond that.

But let’s backtrack a bit in time. One of my best mates, Patrick, and I, had decided to book a trip to Turkey for my birthday this year. Any birthday should be celebrated in style, especially one ending with a big fat 0! We got a fantastic deal and were looking forward to 12 days of pure travel bliss. I love the anticipation of an adventure, the thrill of discovering new destinations, the love of chatting with local characters and being immersed in an experience different to all others before it.


Discussing the optional add-ons to our tour, we both decided not to book the hot air balloon experience. Neither of us were fearful, but it was something we thought we would discuss and decide later. Six months on from booking the trip, we still hadn’t talked about it.


Back to COVID and my hotel quarantine. After the initial sleep phase which lasted for several days, boredom started to set in. I hadn’t been expecting a prolonged delay so had none of my normal craft activities to keep me occupied. Fortunately, the people looking after me brought over a “welfare pack”. This included a pack of cards, exercise band, sudoko book, pencils and a 1000 piece jigsaw. I do love a jigsaw. Several of them got me through the COVID lockdowns of 2020, and were passed on to others to enjoy. Here is my almost completed puzzle!


The puzzle was meant to arrive at this exact time and tell me to Go For It. It was a picture of hot air balloons rising over Cappadocia, Turkey. The glorious pink colours of the early morning sky behind the huge multi coloured balloons was breathtaking. I could picture myself hanging in the basket beneath, as we would rise above the earth. I could almost feel the joy that I would experience, and immediately rang my friend Patrick to share this sign with him. “Pat, we HAVE to do the hot air balloons in Turkey!”


For the next three days, I listened to audiobooks as I pieced the puzzle together. Having the time to sit and really, truly look at the beauty unfolding before me was precious. Now complete, it sat for several days on the desk for me to be inspired by.


I imagine that in a few months’ time, when I am hot air ballooning in real life, I will cast my mind back to the week I spend in isolation and remember the jigsaw. But more than that, I will hold up a photo of it and gaze beyond the picture to the reality and know that my dream has come true.


This fortuitous sign is just one of many that happen to us in life. Most are ignored. Either we are too busy to notice or care, or something else becomes more important. We will create excuses such as “not fit enough”, “not enough time”, “not enough money”, “not enough information”.


One of the best ways to get excited about a holiday is to create a vision board. Placed where you will see the board every day add some or all of the following to it:

  • itinerary

  • photos of your destination

  • super impose a picture of you onto a picture of your dream destination, this helps to visualise it in your mind

  • some words and phrases in the language of your destination. "Hello" "Thank you" "Where is the nearest bathroom" and "My name is...." are some of the starter phrases to learn off by heart

  • anything that gives you a reason to dream


Excuses and results cannot live together, we either have one or the other. Look for the signs and follow your dreams.


Happy Travels!


#maturesolotraveler #solotravel #solotraveler #solotraveller #australia #caravanning #traveltip #travelhint


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