Kamloops man leaves for Ukraine, comes home 6 days later

Trip of a lifetime cut short

A Kamloops mom says the journey to get her son back home from Ukraine earlier this month was a "nightmare."

Yvonne Odber's son Daniel boarded a plane March 10, for what was supposed to be a three-week trip.

"Our family has Ukrainian heritage. (Daniel) likes history, so he wanted to check out all the historical aspects," Odber tells Castanet, adding Daniel saved up all his money for the trip and bought the ticket at Christmas time.

"I was a little nervous. He's never travelled before, never travelled on his own, and certainly not internationally."

Odber says she was in constant communication with her son, and as the situation with COVID-19 began to escalate, she suggested on March 14 that he come home.

"He agreed maybe he should ... Then it was just 48 hours of nightmares, nerves, just crazy."

Odber immediately started looking for flights back to Canada. She almost paid for a flight on the 19th, but Daniel informed her that Ukraine was going to close its borders on the 17th. 

"It took me from about 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. to actually book a flight that wasn't $4,000 one way," she says.

The family ended up paying $1,300 for two flights; from Kiev to Toronto with Ukrainian International Airlines, and from Toronto to Vancouver with WestJet.

"I went back to WestJet, and all of a sudden a deal popped up, three seats left," she says. "It was a very stressful time. I had 12 hours of sleep in three nights ... I just wanted him home, or at least back in Canada where I knew he’d be safe. If we (had) family in Ukraine, it would have been different. He was literally there by himself. He knew nobody, he didn’t speak the language and had limited funds."

Unfortunately, Daniel's plane out of Kiev left late and he missed his Toronto connection. WestJet staff put him on the next flight out, and he landed in Vancouver March 16, about 10 p.m.

Odber says she goes back and forth on whether Daniel should have left in the first place. 

"Nobody knew it was going to end up like this. It would have been a shame to cancel and then have nothing happen. Even to get five days, he's got that experience as a world traveller. It turned out OK. He got home."

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