When Retirement and Coronavirus Collide

For several months, a group of friends and I have been planning to host a Mahjong Tournament for our neighborhood players. A few days ago we decided to cancel the tournament because it felt irresponsible to continue. Obviously, this is a minor alteration to our busy retirement schedule, but there have been many other considerations and cancellations as well.

Besides having a full and active social calendar, the thing we love most about being retired is the ability to travel when and where we want. We spend a lot of time considering destinations, researching options and securing plans. Most of our trips are finalized well in advance, but sometimes we hit the road in a moment of spontaneity, just because we can. I’d like to say that will continue to be our attitude, but this spring has altered our thinking in ways we never thought possible.

Being in an ‘at risk’ category has made us think twice, not only about ourselves, but about the people we interact with – namely, Malcolm’s 90 year old mother. Irresponsible is the best word I can come up with to describe how we feel about exposing her, or ourselves carelessly to a virus that could have devastating consequences. Can we avoid the disease completely? Who knows, but we can take precautions, beginning with what hurts most – cancelling our travel plans for May and June.

After months of anticipation and countless hours of preparation, our Alaskan voyage through the Inside Passage, followed by visits to Banff, Lake Louise and the Canadian ice fields will not happen. At least not for the foreseeable future.

We made the decision to cancel early on, based on a gut feeling, but did not put the wheels in motion until an advisory from Celebrity Cruise Lines declared their intention to transfer paid fees to a future cruise booking. That was just the beginning of the unraveling that was to follow. Three flights, a rental car, and two hotels later, Malcolm had recouped almost 100% of our initial outlay. Had we held out another week, we probably would have received refunds for everything, but we just wanted the pain to be quick and done. Unlike our daughter, who is keeping the faith that her July trip to France will still be possible.

When the final toll is taken this virus will have long term effects that will shape our thoughts and actions for years to come. There will be a new reality, but what will or should it look like?

According to the CDC, anyone over the age of sixty is at risk for complications from this disease. I am not an alarmist by nature, but the thought of death, or reduced lung function from having this flu (who knows what the next one will be) is something I am concerned about going forward.

Will those concerns keep us home? Absolutely not! As soon as I get over my disappointment (almost there) we will begin to think about how we can travel smarter. Maybe this is the year to take a long drive, visit our national parks, or rent an RV and try a new experience.

We would love to hear how the Coronavirus has affected your plans and daily life. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

50 Comments on “When Retirement and Coronavirus Collide

  1. So sorry you will miss your cruise this year. Our daily life as been pretty much the same until this week. Our plans for the weekend were up in the air when the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade (the second largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the U.S.) for March 17 was cancelled. We weren’t planning on attending that parade but there were other events we wanted to attend. On Friday night we decided to attend one of the events and chose to sit outside away from the crowds.

    We also have plans for an Alaska cruise. It’s not until July and we are waiting to see what happens next. We have until 24 hours before the cruise to decide. I have other friends who have had to cancel trips and in my brother’s case, a group trip was cancelled a week before they were scheduled to leave.


    • Hi Beth, it’s pretty much the same here. Everything came down at once with cancellations for local concerts, sporting events and even neighborhood gatherings. Cancelling my BIRTHDAY TRIP was just the last blow in an already disappointing week. Thankfully, we aren’t sick and do not know anyone who is, but it seems to be getting closer each day. Wishing the best for your July cruise. I sincerely hope it happens.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Suzanne, thank you for sharing how CV is affecting your lives and travel plans. For sure we are having to change and adapt to the new set of circumstances. For us in the short term, our Halong Bay Cruise in Vietnam has been cancelled, also all museums and attractions have closed down in Hanoi. Therefore we decided to leave Vietnam, we are now in Thailand waiting for our flight home on Saturday. It was our plan to tour Italy with our RV from May onwards, but those plans are now on hold. So like everyone else we will change plans and do what we can to stay safe and to ensure the safety of others, but off course there are no guarantees. Take care and stay safe.


    • Gilda, I am sure that was a difficult, but necessary choice. Seems like most people just want to get safely home right now and ride it out in a familiar environment. For a lot of us this is just a disruption, but for so many it will have devastating consequences. Stay safe.


  3. Hi Suzanne,

    Good for you for changing your plans. I tend to be socially distant at the best of times, so no big changes in my lifestyle…Hah! I’m very happy that I was in Barbados last month and not this month as I am sure it would not be happening…or I’d be stuck there or somewhere else in quarantine. I have a trip to the US planned for end of April which might not happen, depending on how the next weeks’ unfold. No flights or hotels or rental cars involved so nothing to worry about there, just managing the disappointment if it doesn’t come to pass.



    • Hi Deb, when you face the facts it’s an easy decision. Knowing we did the right thing didn’t help the ‘sting,’ but there will always be another trip. As sexy as it sounds, Barbados would not be where I would want to be stuck in quarantine! Glad you are home safe.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The sentence that jumped out at me the most was your comment about how this will have long term effects on our attitudes and behaviours going forward. I too think that the reverberations from this virus are going to affect us for a long time … and they’re not necessarily going to be good.

    Over the past 72 hours, it’s been rather unsettling to get the endless notifications about the various closures and suspensions in our city as it goes into partial lockdown. Some of them affect me, most do not, but all of them create a sense of unprecedented unease. I can only hope we all stay well. I cannot think of another incident in our lifetime where an event has hit us globally with such impact.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your change of plans. I know these trips carry a lot of anticipation and excitement. I too would feel a lot of disappointment that would take a while to let go. My planned trip to Thailand a few years ago for a 10-day cycling trip would be one of them. I broke my collarbone while training and couldn’t go. I felt the bitterness for a very long time … and I still haven’t been to Thailand.

    Best wishes, Suzanne, that you and your family stay healthy and well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joanne, ‘unprecedented unease’ is a good way of describing what most of us feel right now. My day to day has not been drastically altered, but I do give pause to consider my interactions away from home. Tonight we are having dinner with friends, in their home. I think we will be doing a lot more of that for the next few months.


      • Perhaps out of this we will all have a greater appreciation for the handful of people who are the most meaningful in our lives.


  5. Suzanne,
    We are at home this morning because our church is holding services online only and probably will for several more weeks. You have me second-guessing myself because we are still planning to leave on a cross country trip to California next week. We also have a trip to Banff, Lake Louise, and the Oregon Coast scheduled for this summer. I’m stocking up on Lysol wipes and other essentials for the journeys. At least the crowds should be on the low side, but we may not venture too far from the RV. I feel certain that you’ll get those trips back. Take care, Joe


    • Joe, if your trip involves a plane ride home from California, it might be something to consider, otherwise why not go for it. Banff, Lake Louise and the Oregon Coast in an RV should be fine. You can easily restrict your interactions and take necessary precautions. From what I read, most of the cases in Florida originated from passengers on cruise ships or airplanes. We obviously dropped the ball on containment and testing down here. P.S. Now I know where all the Lysol wipes have gone 🙂


      • Joe, I was with an RV friend last night who is in a similar situation. She reminded me that as this thing gets worse, there will be closings of museums, points of interest, even businesses in order to force containment. She is most worried about restocking supplies along the way. Wishing you the best.

        Skipping Vegas might be wise 😉 for more than one reason!!


  6. We returned from our being “Winter Texans” to home base in February and are hunkered down now. We have a post about what we are doing on our blog.


  7. Suzanne, I’m sorry to hear about the cancellations of your travel plans. No big changes to my daily life yet. The weather has been good here and sunny days are instant mood lifters. My trip to Spain this month, a train trip to Kingston, Ontario next month, and a school friends’ reunion in California in May are all cancelled. The good news is I got full refunds for all trips and I’m home safely with my family (as opposed to being in a foreign locked down country). I’ve also been to Spain, Kingston, and California before so no big disappointment.


    • Smart gal you are. I have two friends who rolled the dice and are now stuck in New Zeland. Sorry you are missing your trips, but you have a way of creating your own sunshine. Shine on!


  8. Hi, Suzanne – Vancouver Island currently has only one known case of COVID-19….but as we see all around us, that number can change in a heart-beat. Like you and Malcolm, Richard and I (both in the higher risk category) are trying to be proactive and not overreactive. We have switched out our morning gym routine for a long morning walk. I will also set up a gym routine for home. Classes that we were taking have been cancelled, as are other events and gatherings that we were involved in. I am addresing my Mahjong addiction by now playing on-line (RealMahjong.com). Richard and I have currently been doing home-renovations, so we’ll continue to do that with our extra free time. I will also finally clean out the dreaded basement (shriek here!). I am also currently going through my TBR list much more quickly now. I’m sorry to hear about your trip cancellation. I do love your idea of ‘smart trip planning’. Stay safe!


    • Donna, those are all very practical and healthy adjustments that won’t make you feel sheltered-in and you’ll get a lot accomplished. Malcolm and I took the Kayak down to the river yesterday and had a great time. Mahjong has been a godsend for us as well. If you have a set, teach Richard to play. It’s more fun than on-line!

      We have no confirmed cases in our town, but two hours away in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, it is growing.My friend who’s husband is an infectious disease Dr. thinks we have maybe two – three weeks before lock-down begins.

      As far as Smarter Travel, we still don’t know what that will look like for us, but we are batting around some ideas for this summer. Be well!


  9. We had already taken 2 trips this year and were planning to stay home a while when all of this hit, so the timing is “OK” but so sad for folks that had big plans. I’m thankful that my friends who have been traveling are safely home. As a retiree and avid volunteer, my daily life has been put on hold. Both of my volunteer gigs have sent me “Stay at home” memos. So baking/cooking more, reading the stack of books and cleaning out closets it will be for me.


    • Tracey, yours is a very logical approach. Glad you had your trips out of the way before the crisis.Baking and cooking will keep you busy for sure. Malcolm has been baking (more than usual) also. We have had many, many cancellations which affect our daily life, but are adjusting to what is. Expecting it will get worse before it gets better.

      P.S. Book recommendations?? I plan to add a few things to my Kindle today.


      • I’m a bit behind in reading, but have recently finished the following from the NY TImes 2019 Best Seller List: Where The Crawdads Sing and The Woman In The Window. Also recently finished Where’d You Go Bernadette, Lilian Fishback Takes a Walk, and Eleanore Oliphant is Completely Fine – all very amusing older books. Lastly, if you like mysteries, I like Ruth Ware. I’ve read several of those. What’s the best thing you’ve ready lately?


  10. We were invited to a wedding in Maui in early June and I kept putting off making reservations and now I’m glad I did. There is just too much uncertainty. Luckily we are not that socially active and are used to entertaining ourselves at home. But am getting a little worried about going to the grocery store when our supplies run low.


    • We have been stocking up for the past couple of weeks since we feel that a lock-down is imminent in our state.We have three major sea ports and way too many International airports that allow tourists to come and go, which is contributing greatly to the problem and things are escalating fast.

      Today we decided to go to the market for a few more things, mostly meat, veggies and fruit. It is all gone. Luckily, we have plenty of what we will need for the next several weeks, but it would have been reassuring to have a few extra things on hand.

      I don’t worry about entertaining ourselves either. We will continue to see close friends (in the neighborhood), walk outside in the fresh air, ride our bikes and head to the beach or river with our kayak when we need activity.

      We will each deal in our own way and hopefully come out of this with lessons learned. Good wishes.


  11. So sorry that you’ll miss your trip (for now). This is such a crazy time and we all are adjusting to our new normal. I try not to worry but this whole thing feels rather surreal. I read recently that, even if this dies down in the summer as temps warm, it could come back with a vengeance in the fall. Yikes! We’ll learn more as time goes on. Stay safe.


  12. We headed north 10 days ago with a full calendar of theater tickets (we have season tickets still up here – at 3 different theaters … it’s one of my fav things), dinners with friends, doctor’s appointments, and financial meetings… plus the regular gym, yoga, massage and shopping plans. Well, Cincinnati has been extremely proactive in the social distancing … all events (ie. theaters, sports events, concerts, etc) and schools got the shut down last Thursday. Museums, libraries, gyms, bars, and restaurants followed over the weekend. My doctors/dentist offices are all calling to reschedule and I figured if a dentist office isn’t a good idea, perhaps not a massage is either. In fact, I had 2 messages in the last hour with additional shut downs – my yoga studio (we only have 5-7 people at my class usually!) and the next play (they can’t do rehearsals, so it’s also cancelled). Having my entire calendar wiped out has been quite un-nerving. That plus the fact it’s 45 and gray skies… it’s been a tough few days. Of course, I need to look at the bright side of things – we have a wonderful home to be in, enough food to eat, and no-one we know has yet to be infected. I do worry about the long term economic impact – will my favorite stores and restaurants survive? How many folks will be in significant financial distress? it’s definitely unsettling times.


    • Pat, your disruptions sound similar to mine – inconvenient, but not life altering. I am grateful for sunny weather and warm temperatures which make coping much easier. Yes, there will be far reaching consequences to small businesses and the sooner we get on top of this the better. Florida is moving too slowly, in my opinion, and the numbers of infected are increasing rapidly in Dade and Broward counties. My daughter lives in Miami, (Dade County) and has been instructed to work at home. I hate that we won’t see her in the foreseeable future, but I admire her for not putting us and her grandmother in jeopardy. It is an interesting dichotomy to be in a class that is highly susceptible and also most likely to cope best with current conditions. Having said that, we just passed a street party of individuals (about our age), celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Seriously??? Get a clue people.


  13. I keep reminding myself that my parents survived the Hungry 30s and WW2 and my grandparents survived WW1 and the Hungry 30s… I/we will get through this too. As of last night I know where everyone in my immediate and extended family is and that’s a relief to know they are all safe… yes, two in Spain have tested positive but they are young and healthy.
    With my daughter and her partner working from home full-time with 24 hours notice, and school closed and daycare shut down with no notice, I am fitting more than a few new roles and adventures into my daily routine… but that’s how we get through these times… by supporting each other, communicating, and staying positive.
    And yes, the sun is shining!


  14. Hi Suzanne – I’m so sorry you had to cancel your much anticipated trip and your Mahjong tournament. I’m thankful we had no plans to travel and are happily ensconced in an area away from large cities and crowds. I’m finding that I’m happy to step back from some of my social commitments and staying home is not a hardship at all. I’m also focusing on all the things I’m grateful for – including power, water, gas, fresh fruit and vegies (that the hoarders don’t seem to be buying up!), the fact that we’re all healthy and that the risk is low if we’re all careful.
    My heart goes out to those who are trapped overseas, or who have lost their business income, or who are elderly and frightened. I think kindness will resurface and people will stop bulk buying and start sharing more – that’s my hope anyway.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊


    • Leanne, it seems like an eternity since I wrote this post and the world around me has changed significantly. Whining about a disrupted schedule and cancelled vacation pales in comparison to the reality of today, tomorrow, and next week.

      We are grateful that this is just a small inconvenience for us and wish safety and healing for everyone in the midst of the crisis. The greatest kindness we can exhibit right now is to simply stay home. That is the message I want to get out today. Thanks for sharing on #MLSTL


  15. We had a holiday to Italy booked for the beginning of June. We are still waiting to get our money back. Apparently disinclination to travel because of a pandemic is not sufficient reason to cancel. What I regret most is that the leader of a historic walking group I belong to has decided to cancel walks for the next few months. It will pale into insignificance when I hear about other people’s problems.
    My youngest son’s mother in law was diagnosed with terminal cancer last month. We encouraged her to make a bucket list but unfortunately she won’t be able to fulfil it as she has to self isolate.


    • Anne, how sad for your son’s MIL. That does tend to put things into perspective doesn’t it? I feel your pain regarding your walking group. I have been hanging onto my once per week social tennis, but fear it is time. Better to do things voluntarily, I suppose. Discontinuing travel plans are a necessity at this point. I do hope you get your money back, or at the very least, like services for the future. Thanks for commenting.


  16. I’m glad you were able to recoup your outlay. Things are definitely going to change for most people, especially travelers. Even though we have not decided to cancel our June cruise, I’m sure l’ll get to it sooner or later It was to be my MIL’s 70th birthday present. I would just like to hold on to the illusion just for a bit longer. Our plan right now is for any getaway to be within Spain. The country has been good to us, and we want to keep our tourist dollars here to help. Let us hope everything improves quicker than we think. Glad you guys are well. Stay safe :-).


  17. Hi Kem, it’s nice to hear from you. Glad all is well with you guys. You are smart to stay where you are and contribute to the economy in whatever way you can. We are doing our best to do the same. Most of our city is shutting down, but we can still move about. Malcolm makes a daily run to the market for fresh produce, which is in short supply. But, I expect we will begin to place on-line orders by next week. It will be interesting to watch this thing play out and see if lessons are learned. Take care.


  18. Hi Suzanne, it is such a disappointment to have to cancel travel plans and other activities. We did Alaska and Canada last year so you are in for a treat when you do go. Sometimes life means we need to be flexible. My 93 year old MIL is in aged care and at the moment they have not gone into complete lock down but have strict visiting guidelines in place. I want to see her but at the same time would hate to carry any ‘nasties’ that she could pick up. They are extremely vulnerable at that age aren’t they? Lovely to have you share your thoughts at #MLSTL and hopefully this time next year you will be looking forward to Alaska! Take care in these uncertain times. xx


    • Sue, keeping family protected is paramount at this time. Sad that you can’t visit, but I am sure your MIL understands. I remember when you went to Alaska/Canada last year. You were one of my inspirations for planning the trip. We will visit, I’m just not sure it will involve a cruise ship next time.


  19. Hi Suzanne, We are definitely in a surreal world. I am trying to not look too far ahead, since I also believe there will be a new reality. For now, I am trying to keep everyone mentally and physically healthy, me included. As a family, we decided last Sunday to completely self isolate. We usually have a lot of interaction with the grandchildren, 4 weeks, 23 months, 4, 6. They are very huggy, smoochy, drooly, and touch everything. They would not understand boundaries.

    Goosebumps, Suzanne, on travel smarter. A couple of years ago, my husband and I were tossing around the idea to drive across Canada. Maybe this is the year to rent the RV and do this. We have rented RV’s in the past and had a lot of fun. I wish you and your family to stay healthy! Great post!


    • Erica, I know you must miss those smoochy, drooly grandchildren terribly. I miss my sweet daughter, who I typically see at least once per month. It has been about 7 weeks since we last visited, with no hope that it will happen anytime soon. We talk often, and there is always FT if I get really lonesome.

      I have already started looking into renting an RV, but haven’t gotten very far with my research. I’m not sure Malcolm and I could handle it. The idea of a road trip sounds very nice though. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. As you said, cancelling travel plans is a small sacrifice compared to what many have gone through, but the disappointment is real. I hope we can all make up for it in the future with lots of happy travels that we appreciate even more than we would have had they come easy!


  21. So sorry your travel plans are canceled. Our trip to Morocco and Portugal was canceled, along with other travel plans for March and April. I think of it the same way as you – I don’t want to be the one to pass along the coronavirus to my 88-year-old in-laws or my 81-year-old running friend, or my younger friend battling Stage IV cancer. We need to act responsibly.


  22. Suzanne, in the two weeks since you posted this, how things have changed! Since March 16, we have been completely self-isolating, only going out once for groceries, once for pet food, and once for takeout food. Other than that, we have stayed at home, in our garden, or walked the roads and trails in our semi-rural neighbourhood. We haven’t seen our friends, kids, or grandkids.

    As for your trip, we are very fortunate to live in B.C., so we have been to Banff and Jasper and the Columbia Ice Fields many times, and travelled the Canadian inside passage as well several times. It’s fantastic, and I hope you get to make the trip in the future. This summer we had been talking about travelling up the Alaska Panhandle by ferry, but not now, I guess.



    • Jude, what a difference a couple of weeks makes. Back then, I was thinking that I’d still be able to have close friends over for dinner, and maybe even play tennis. Ha! We’ve learned a lot sense then, haven’t we?

      I am still looking forward to taking that trip one day. We had so many plans…oh well. I am grateful to be at home and healthy, with lots of sunny days making this confinement easier to bear. Sounds like you have a nice daily routine. Take care.


  23. We came home from South Carolina two weeks early because we were concerned about where this was all going. As each state unfolds different plans at different times, it’s more comforting to be at home. NH transitioned to ‘stay at home’ last week so except for ‘essentials’ there is no one out. Stores are closed, and the remaining environment is eerie at best. We’re staying busy and active, but there are no big trips in our summer plans. I think we’ll stick with the car when we get released, and to be perfectly honest I’ve never had a desire to take a cruise and based on this event I know I definitely will never take one. Take care, stay safe, and I hope you get to redo some of your travel plans.


  24. I agree that HOME is the place to be. Our state is going into total lock down within the next 24 hours. Our Governor was reluctant to take a hard stand early on and I think we will pay for it in the long term. Thankfully, our county government has been very responsible and we personally have been following cues from California for the past three weeks.We are talking about Thanksgiving as a possibility for travel. I desperately need something to look forward to. Anything prior to that seem a bit ambitious. As far as cruising again, I’m not sure how I will feel when this shakes out. I won’t say never. Glad you are coping well. Take care. P.S. we had the most glorious day today! Nothing like springtime in Florida!!! No wonder all the NYorkers are invading our borders.


  25. So far I have cancelled 2 cruises, one to the Panama Canal, and one to Norway and Russia. I am hoping that the one to S. America in December with still happen. In the mean time I plan with my better half to do some driving tours to covers some states I have missed. Here is hoping we can all still do that when the virus is done this year.


    • Hi Geri, thanks for commenting and welcome to Picture Retirement! I sympathize with your cancellations. I know first hand exactly how that feels. Crossing my fingers for you the the December trip will happen. Malcolm and I are thinking about how to best structure a road trip and when that can safely happen. One of the many things weighing on my mind lately.

      Liked by 1 person

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