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What it was like to travel to Ghana during Covid

I’ll skip to the end before I even begin and tell you that our trip to Ghana over the Christmas holiday was an incredibly relaxing, stress-free, magical experience. I was secretly dreading this international trip and almost canceled because of the hyped-up Covid-worry and anxiety radiating through the U.S. news and media —sending a level of discomfort to anyone who encountered it. 

But when we got to Ghana, it all changed. It was like two worlds. I had no idea how I could in one minute have overwhelmingly anxious thoughts, a racing heartbeat, and sleepless nights, and then the next, be in paradise with smiling, relaxed faces —not a Covid care in the world.

Travel anxiety got the best of me

We went international to Ghana, Africa, for the Christmas holiday during Covid. We planned the trip when we thought Covid was dying down, but somewhere between the time we bought the tickets and the date of our trip, Covid made a considerable surge… again. Leading up to the trip, we could feel the excitement from the kids and anxiety from the adults building. 

My hospital was stretched to the max, not necessarily from Covid patients but from staffing issues, other illnesses, and people who thought they had Covid. My husbands’ practice went from 50 patients a day to 120. These were numbers our facilities and our country could barely keep up with. 

To top it off, I had to work the day we left for our trip —I know, what was I thinking lol?

…So, when I say that my husband and I (especially me) were engulfed by deep unsettling anxiety, you can imagine why. 

In the joy of the Christmas spirit, my kids were so excited to be going on a big trip to see my husband’s family. The kids had never been to Africa, so this was a huge deal. And since we were going over Christmas, we planned many fun events that we were eager to do. This year, we didn’t even get our kids Christmas presents because this trip was such a big deal —more on “no-Christmas gifts” in an upcoming newsletter. Perfect time to sign up, so you get to hear how that went down.

They had no idea that it felt like the sky was falling for their father and me. They had no idea we didn’t have a Christmas backup plan if this trip fell through. They had no idea how much planning (and money we spent), and it would crush us as much as them if we didn’t get to go on our international trip. As a mom, this was eating me alive.

I kept checking our flights for fear they’d be canceled? I was watching for updates every moment, especially right down to the minute about whether or not they’d accept travelers into the country. 

We had many late-night conversations about canceling this big trip —one that my husband had elaborately planned. I lost sleep over this trip. Was it safe? Was I making a good decision for my family? What was I getting us into? 

The day we left for our trip to Ghana

Fast forward to the day we were leaving…

Because of the covid surge in other parts of the world, Ghana had just begun enforcing new regulations requiring anyone entering Ghana to be vaccinated and have proof of a negative PCR. The media in the US showed nothing but scary Covid headlines, which added to our worries.

Trying to breathe it out  —all the stress and anxiety weighing me down, I finished my day of work right before we headed to the airport.

I did all my research on international travel. The kids had been packed for days, so we were all good there. And being that my husband is from Ghana, he was very comfortable traveling to his home country. 

Once we got on the plane and settled into our seats, I took a huge sigh of relief, knowing whatever happens from here is in “bigger” hands, and no matter what, we were together, and we’d get through.

My experience visiting Ghana during Covid

When we arrived in Ghana, it took a while to get our bags, clear customs, and leave the airport —as it always does when we travel internationally. But this time, we had one extra step.

You have to receive a negative covid test three days before entering Ghana. You test again upon arrival at the airport before going through customs. All I could do was pray that none of us somehow tested positive upon arrival.

We tested negative, cleared customs, and were on our way to what I would soon experience as the most relaxing, joyful, stress-free trip I could have ever imagined. The weather was beautiful, and the people were happy.

I slept like a baby every night.  We were so grateful to see our friends and family in Ghana. We smiled, laughed a lot, and did all of the super fun activities on our itinerary. We visited historic sites, castles, and safaris. 

Much of Ghana’s life is outdoors, and we enjoyed the positive vibe. We weren’t worried about Covid. It felt like the country was simply going about life, and it blew my mind because it was nothing like what I was used to in the U.S.  People wore masks indoors, but it didn’t hinder the welcoming vibe of the community.

A lesson I learned from traveling during the pandemic

Seeing the peaceful, happy faces of the Ghanaian people, who were also experiencing Covid in their own country, taught me not always to believe what I see. The environment I came from in the U.S. felt dark and worrisome like doomsday was always on the brink, but I realized all that hype wasn’t necessary —and the news headlines sure didn’t help.

I also realized that I was becoming a product of my environment. Being surrounded by stressful situations, worried people, and fear-driven news affected me negatively. When I arrived in Ghana, away from it all, I felt like my happy, peaceful, well-rested self.

Maybe we need to get away to see there’s more to our world than what lies in front of us. I recommend to everyone to get away and explore different cultures and communities. You might just find what you didn’t know you were looking for.
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