Founder (Not Exactly) on the Move: Spring 2020  By

Founder (Not Exactly) on the Move: Spring 2020

I thrive on meeting members of our wonderful community while traveling. With the travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, our team (like many of you) has stayed on lockdown. We’ve been working from home, enjoying spending time with our families and possibly doing a little baking.

One silver lining of working from home more is that we are able to connect with members virtually, like our recent conversation with artist and teacher Laura Quincy Jones in Havana, Cuba.

I have been communicating daily with members all over the world, as people have many questions while rearranging travel: postponing, cancelling and pondering over when their sabbaticals and fellowships might actually happen. Let me share with you some of my favorites stories which I have collected in the past month.

Thank You to Our Members for Showing Empathy and Caring for Each Other

During this time, one fact has risen to the top time after time. With very few exceptions (regretfully there were a few exceptions), members have been extremely understanding of each other, kindhearted and flexible in their discussions. We are proud and grateful to have such community of resourceful, level-headed and respectful members.

We have had members who have been able to continue their stays in the homes they found on our website. We also have members who have had to cancel or cut sabbaticals short (and resourceful hosts who have quickly found new tenants on the website). And we’ve gotten updates from many of our notable members; scroll down for an excerpt from Michael Stromme’s most recent newsletter from Uganda.

Staying in Amsterdam

Image of a nearly empty canal in Amsterdam during COVID-19 Lockdown.

Maria Fritsche had just moved Amsterdam to do research. As things were changing daily in March, she realized she could continue her work safely if she were able to stay in the flat she found through SabbaticalHomes rather than returning to Norway.

She is so glad she stayed, even though her time in Amsterdam isn’t quite as she envisioned, she is still enjoying the experience. It has helped that her landlord and colleagues at her host institution have checked in with her regularly via phone and text, so she isn’t adrift alone in a different country.

Related: Member Spotlight: Professor Nigel Smith and Jane Boyd

Leaving Spain (a little early)

Image of an outdoor stone patio with a table overlooking the Spanish countryside.

Renske de Jong, a member with a welcoming cottage and studio in historic Almazan, Spain, was more concerned about his guests’ traveling back to Canada safely than the fact that they needed to cut their stay in his home short.

“A couple from Canada with their son stayed for almost 2.5 months in my house in Soria. I understood that they loved it. Unfortunately, they had to leave 2 weeks earlier than planned because of the Corona crisis. I was glad to hear that they’re home safe and sound.” With a home like this in such an amazing location, he knows he will have more guests soon!

Related: Cottage & Studio in Historic Almazan, Spain

Pivoting in Washington D.C.

Image of Smithsonian Museum of Natural History "Outbreak" Exhibit poster.
Coincidentally, there is an “Outbreak” exhibit currently at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History that was inspired by the 100 year anniversary of the Great Influenza.

Another long-time member in the Washington D.C. area had a renter lined up for her home, but the guest’s research was postponed when the Smithsonian was shut down in response to COVID-19.

She gracefully refunded the deposit, quickly updated her home listing’s availability on and was able to find another guest for the same time period who needed to be in the D.C. area near family during these months.

Related: Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World

Quarantining in Western Uganda

Image of Michael Stromme with a child he helps in Uganda.

We also checked in with Michael Stromme, who we highlighted in a Member Spotlight article last year. Michael is experiencing the pandemic from a small village called Kitumba, in Western Uganda. He recently sent out his May Newsletter with updates on Coronavirus, locusts and his life in Africa.  He told us:

“I’m staying in a small guest house behind a friend’s family home, surrounded by banana, avocado, and eucalyptus trees. It’s green, clean, and safe, and I’m appreciating village life and the fresh country air. It’s about as socially distant as a person can get. But this was the plan all along, and what my friend and I had been discussing for months. This area would be ideal in order to grow and cultivate the essential oil herbs for my business, as well as to help support the HIV+ farmers involved in his and his wife’s NGO.”

Related: Michael Stromme: Social Entrepreneur in Uganda and Michael Stromme’s New York Home Listing

Re-Opening Guidelines

As cities and countries begin the process of opening up, we are all looking for guidelines to maintain good health for ourselves and people around us.

Professor Erin Bromage of University of Massachussetts Dartmouth, who teaches and researches infectious diseases and host immune responses of animals presents common-sense information in “The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them.”

Note: Professor Bromage does not claim to have authority over any local Health Department or organizations like the Centers for Disease Control, but we have found him to be a practical, scientific voice in the conversations around re-opening our workplaces and cities.  

Traveling Updates

As the summer and Fall months go on, many of us will want and need to travel again – safely. Please do your research to find local guidelines for areas you might be traveling to before making plans. If you are traveling to or from a university, they will most likely have information for you as well.

It may also be helpful to refer to the World Health Organization for information on the pandemic for different areas of the globe.

Related: Coronavirus and Travel Links

We enjoy catching up with our notable members and writing about their multifaceted adventures and accomplishments. Do you have a Sabbatical Homes story you’d like to share? Let us know what you think! Connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook,  Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.