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The other night I was channel surfing movies, and a segment caught my eye showing people on planes, in airports, dining and dancing and generally living a carefree life. But the thing that startled me was my internal reaction. “Where’s the social distancing? How about masks? Did they all really take the same cab? OMG that dance floor is packed! Did anyone sanitize those menus?” It took me a while to realize it was old footage, from “The Great Before.” I was taken back by how quickly my frame of reference had changed. Perhaps you’ve had the same experience?
I personally can’t wait to travel again, but at this time, despite promoted airline and travel incentives, and the posts of other travel influencers, international travel feels premature and irresponsible to me with a pandemic raging. I’m an adventure traveler and a calculated risk taker by nature. It’s not only a concern for personal safety, and the safety of others, but also a respect for the work of those battling the pandemic on the front lines. While I appreciate the travel industry has been hit hard economically, I just can’t reconcile the moral position required to engage in recreational international travel right now – even though in Canada it is still technically legal, albeit increasingly difficult with a Covid negative test required 72 hours before boarding, and a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon return.
All this to say, WHEN we begin to travel again will be a very personal decision. And where we venture will be dictated as much by what is available, as what might have been on our bucket list. So with that in mind, I’ve chosen not to make a list of destinations that await, but to reconcile a list of travel resolutions, based on values that I now see as important.
1. Travel with a spirit of enchanted wonder
I want to travel with my eyes wide open, take a breath, savor slow travel, and go deeper. In the future I’ll plan less jam-packed itineraries, and more deliberate space created for accidental opportunities. I want to embrace every single physical human interaction, and never take serendipitous moments for granted again. I’ll also plan time between trips to reset and spend time with people I love. Being on the road is great, but so is being at home. Travel will be about having balance.
2. Never take travel for granted again
I had assumed there would always be an open border and a flight waiting. The Coronavirus has taught us otherwise. Post-pandemic will be a second chance. I will never make excuses or put things off, but rather figure out how to make travel plans possible, and embrace the unknown. I will also stay up late, get up early, and experience it all – which is really no different than the attitude I’ve always had, but it’s a resolve to continue this approach which I think is important.
3. Consider travel a luxury, aware of the impact on our world
The “Great Before” for many was about chasing miles, nonchalantly crisscrossing oceans and continents, gobbling up photos and sharing places on social media. Going forward we will need to adjust our mindset, being cognizant of the costs it takes to travel the world, and the impact on our environment. If nothing else, the pandemic has taught us a greater sense of how we’re all connected. I want to think more about responsible travel, maximizing future trips to find ways to spend more time in a given region, and support the local economy. Small business is at the heart of many communities. Covid taught us this at home, and I’d like to take that lesson abroad. I want to discover things not in the guide books, meet locals, and uncover new stories while there.
4. Take fewer photos and savor more memories
One of the things that has increasingly bothered me with where travel has been evolving, is the urgency to capture and post photos, video and stories for those not there. This has been driven largely by social media, and of course travel influencers. I’d like to challenge myself to plan some days without a camera, to be more present, in the moment, and to save the sharing of stories for my return.
5. Travel with gratitude
The pandemic helped me realize how thankful I am for travel with my kids (now young adults) during “The Great Before.” We created life-long memories exploring and discovering international locations together, while teaching them the value, education and independence of travel. Memories of those global travel experiences with not only my kids, but my husband, girlfriends and solo adventures, have been my emotional reserve during the trying times of this last year. Going forward I want to savor the memories with gratitude, but also accept that everyone I will encounter will have had their own personal story during the pandemic. I hope I can, with grace, remember that in line ups, disembarking a flight, at security, customs and interacting with those on a local level. Travel in a post coronavirus world will be a luxury and a privilege. And kindness will go a long way.
What about you? Is there anything you would add to this list?