Over the past few months, we’ve learned to live in a post-travel world.
We’ve relied on nothing but our immediate surroundings for stimulation, adventure, and exploration.
With the entire travel industry essentially on pause and with no clear answer about when things will return to normal, one thing is certain: traveling in a post-coronavirus world will not be the same.
Slowly, as we head into the “new normal,” many countries are planning to reopen their borders, and people are beginning to step out of their homes to embrace the outer world once again. The question is, will we travelers reflect on the privileges we once took for granted?
Let’s take a quick look at three lessons that we’ve learned during the lockdown, and let them change our travel habits forever.
Lesson 1: Traveling is a privilege.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I did take my journeys for granted.
Being a travel blogger, buying a flight ticket, and either waking up to see snow-clad peaks, sitting by the beach to watch a sunset, or laughing with a bunch of strangers over dinner has always been special. I have always considered my travels and experiences to be something consistent in my life—something I’d always be afforded.
Over the years, I’ve learned several valuable lessons while traveling, but recently, when I had to cancel a couple of trips (courtesy: the pandemic!) and confine myself behind closed doors, I finally realized that traveling is a true privilege.
I’m sure that many of you have fully integrated that steady countdown to the next trip into your daily schedules. We’ve become accustomed to being able to hop on a plane, train, or into a car and be transported to an entirely different culture in just a matter of a few hours.
But now that most of our pre-planned adventures have been brutally snatched from our passport-clutching hands and we have been forced to live without our travels and explorations, it’s time that we start seeing travel as a gift.
That weekend escapade that seemed like no big deal earlier? We’ll do well to appreciate it now.
We have all surely learned that we’re lucky to travel and explore. Perhaps we can see it as worth something far more than when we considered it something we automatically deserved.
Lesson 2: Appreciate the beauty of nature.
Over the past couple of months, while the news of the pandemic has been spreading like wildfire, we’ve also been able to watch the Earth heal itself beautifully.
There’s not a person who can ignore the fact that traveling has negative impacts on the environment with carbon emissions speeding up the process of global warming, and travel activities causing severe damage to destinations and communities if not done sustainably.
Quarantine has been a much-needed reality check for humankind. Having our freedoms restricted, our time outside controlled, and our reserves of fresh air severely depleted has, for many, triggered a whole new appreciation for Mother Nature.
In the days to come, travelers will be discovering and uncovering places close to home that ooze with natural beauty: enchanting woodland glades, river walks, and sun-soaked secluded parks—spaces that have always existed, but that we’ve never taken the time to find.
The next time we go for a holiday, let us be more responsible and find sustainable ways of traveling, so that no harm is done to nature. I’m sure we’ve all learned the lesson quite well: when nature gives back, it’s often hard-hitting. So let’s rather be sensible and emerge as mindful travelers. Take up something meaningful and consider volunteering for the environment or reduce your carbon footprints as much as possible.
Lesson 3: Be happy where you are, rather than chasing more.
For travelers, it has always been considered to be normal when we keep hopping from one place to another, trying to see (almost) everything that we can, ticking off every item on our travel bucket list. In that quest for adventure, we tend to get exhausted, often missing out on little things. Yet we keep on moving.
But while confined within the four walls of our homes, many of us have been afforded enough time to nurture our inner Zen and reflect on our actions. Calming our itchy feet and hodophile souls, we may have come to realize that it’s fine to enjoy where we are, rather than chasing more.
Needless to say, the global pandemic is sure to change the way we travel, as well as the nomadic, multi-destination backpacking trips, fast-paced city-seeing breaks, or epic excursions to famous “tourist” sites that were once the staples of the traveler’s agenda. We’ve definitely learned how to slow down, and that’ll reflect on our journeys as well.
Now, let us immerse ourselves in exploring one destination at a time, rather than focusing on jam-packed itineraries. In doing so, perhaps we’ll be able to find a spiritual connection with our journeys as we begin to outweigh the nagging need to tick off those standard must-sees.