I know what it feels like to be stuck within the four walls of home (no matter how cozy it is and how much love your family showers you with).
Sometimes, comfort isn’t found amidst luxury, but in breaking free from the chaos and getting lost in the wilderness.
The thought of having no trips to look forward to gives me a strange sort of anxiety, and perhaps, you feel it too. We all wake up every single day, wondering when the pandemic will cease and we’ll be unshackled to wander like we always did.
Remember the last time you packed your bags at the last minute and were over-excited to add yet another stamp on the passport? Or when you walked through the airport watching the world whizzing around you? Or the last time you gazed at the sunset while strolling on the beach? Gorged on sumptuous local delicacies with a bunch of strangers you met on a trip? Or perhaps, when you spent a night stargazing?
I believe those thoughts still fetch you a smile that lingers for a couple of minutes or more.
There have been endless times when I’ve paused amidst the daily chores, to scroll through my Instagram feed, and came across people sharing throwback photos, reminiscing about their best journeys. I’ve done the same and, perhaps, you have too. As I’m writing this letter, I feel vulnerable and guilty that I’ve failed to live to the fullest in the last few months, taking one day at a time, hovering over the blurred images of the places I’d planned to visit, but couldn’t.
I’ve logged in to those flight-booking websites countless times just to check the price of tickets or to search for Airbnbs at random locations. This used to be my favorite pastime—before the pandemic hit—but now, it ends up giving me a dose of stress. My friends and I had planned extensively for a trip to Sri Lanka; however, it is shelved now due to COVID-induced uncertainty. But thanks to our indomitable spirits, we still discuss the “what ifs” around that vacation and hope that someday we’ll make it there.
Did you also have plans that got docked?
I’ve been missing my best friend, who lives in the States and was supposed to visit me this summer. We struggle to catch up over video calls, beating the woes of the time difference. And then there’s another friend in Oz, who keeps updating me about how things are getting better on her side of the world and people are back on the streets—accepting the “new normal.”
I often think of the little ones at the Children’s Home in Kenya where I volunteered last year, and wonder how they’re doing in these trying times. Time and again, I remember beautiful people whom I met at the crossroads of life: the tuk-tuk driver who took me around Siem Reap; the guide who narrated the dark stories of Chu Chi Tunnels; the keeper who looks after my fostered baby elephant in Nairobi; the old couple who hosted me in Melbourne; the man who helped me spot the camouflaged snow leopards in Spiti; and many others.
I guess you’re also lost in thoughts of experiences you’ve had and those you wish to have again one day. While reading this letter, you might be missing those days when you walked around the blue lanes of Chefchaouen or trekked around the Himalayas. Maybe, you’re daydreaming, thinking of that 100-year-old bookshop in Petersfield, England, or taking a game drive in Serengeti and spotting a lion chasing an eland. Who knows, we might bump into each other at a beach shack in Bali—and if you recognize me, we shall discuss our common love for exploring the world, while sipping on martinis!
Over the last few months, the entire world has been pushed behind closed doors, transforming the virtual world into a reality that we never imagined we’d need to embrace. But with talk of having a vaccine introduced sometime in the near future, we can actually start reclaiming our sense of adventure and start contemplating when and how we will explore, all over again.
Let me take this opportunity to confess to you that during my past trips, I’ve made a lot of mistakes: I used too many plastic products; ordered more food than I could eat and ended up wasting it; spent a lot of time creating that perfect Insta-worthy selfie. Perhaps you’ve also indulged in the same behaviour. Maybe the next time we set out, we’ll be a little more profound and responsible travelers.
I just want to remind you that the world is healing.
There are many like us, those feeling the tickles to get on the roads, wake up in an unknown land, embrace authenticity and cultural diversity, experience the uncertainties beyond the itinerary, and happily take the wrong route. I know your heart is filled with joy going through these lines. The adventure, my friend, is all that we are seeking. Because that’s what makes travel so rewarding.
Once the pandemic paves its way to a better world, I know I’ll feel happier, more free, and more alive to step out of the virtual world and be completely in the moment.
Life is short, my friend, and the world is wide. The next time I travel, I am going to make a promise to myself to let myself truly wander and reclaim the adventure, soaking in every bit that the journey has to offer.
Will you join me and reclaim your sense of adventure too?
A Fellow Traveler