I have developed a routine during lockdown. My state allowed, once per day walk has become my thinking time. I pop on some headphones, and walk with purpose. Mostly I listen to beautiful music, (Ludovico Einaudi Seven Days Walking has been my go to lately, no irony intended). Sometimes I listen to a podcast. Always, without exception, I observe and appreciate the surroundings, (especially the tree blossom) around me. I find that this mindful walking, surrounded by nature, allows my head to clear, and clarity to come to the forefront. My latest thoughts the last few days have been towards travel. I am pondering the question of whether we will travel differently after this crazy time ends. Will we travel with purpose and appreciation more? I am hoping so!
There is a culture at the moment, of rushing through the world. There is almost a competitive edge to it. How many countries can you cross off. How many places can you travel to in a two week period. How many sights can you tick off within those destinations. It feel’s like it has become so far removed from what travel should perhaps be about. I have even seen arguments arise on Twitter over how long you have to be set foot in a country to consider it visited, (they were talking hours, not days). It has gotten a little bonkers.
But, for many, there may be an enforced change to how we travel. We are being told that the price of travel could increase considerably after this world pandemic passes.
The travel industry has been one of the hardest hit industries, so it will need to do some rebuilding. For those of us that love to travel, this initially sounded like a toll of doom. Despite being a travel writer, (and contrary to what some people assume), I pay for 99.9% of our own travel. So, like the majority of us, these higher costs are going to affect us too. Trust me, Nik and I have made the most of the cheap airline flights many times to utilise his 6 weekly shift breaks and my self employed person flexibility! We have also become used to things like AirBnB and sporadic special offers on sites like Booking.com. This has meant that affordable accommodation could be found. Now, we are being told all this could change and for us as travel lovers, if I am honest, it felt a bit crappy!
Will this make us all travel differently?
However, my mind has now changed on how I view this possible development. I am now thinking that this could offer the opportunity to change how we travel. To travel differently and with more purpose. To rewind a little and go back to travel being an absorption in the culture and full appreciation that we are able to visit these places. Not taking the freedom and ability to travel for granted. It could kick start the movement to travel more mindfully. Do you think so too??
Speaking from my own circumstances, our travel planning was fairly off the cuff. Never planned that far in advance, and often on a whim. Nik does a job that means every 6 weeks, he gets 16 days off. Also, I am self employed, so I am lucky to have the freedom to also take time off when I want to. Nik’s shift breaks are when we schedule any trips for. So, like most travel obsessives, we have a huge ongoing list of places we fancy visiting. (I know you have a list too travel lovers….)
In the past, our next trip destination was usually decided by sitting on airline websites and seeing what flights came up the least expensive on our desired dates. However, this random method had started changing. We had already started to move towards change in how we travel over the last year or so. These changes are inline with our desire to live a more responsible and sustainable life. But, we do still plan trips by almost sticking a pin in a map!
Travel with purpose
My mind is already moving away from that. I am already thinking that my travel will be waaaay more mindful when we are able to move around the world freely again. Travel for all of us will likely be more expensive. The likelihood is that our trips will be less frequent for a while. This will lead to us considering where our next trip will be far more carefully. Really questioning if it is somewhere we have longed to go to. Giving thought to whether that destination is where we want to spend our hard earned cash. Do you see what I mean?
Without a doubt, Nik and I plan on more Uk travel initially. Even though I am itching to be getting overseas again! I just feel it is very important to support the tourism industry within our own countries for a while too. They have all taken such a battering! Our Cotswolds trip that got cancelled in April will be very, very welcomed (hopefully in Autumn…or am I being too optimistic there)?? I also have a dream of staying in a castle in Scotland this year. Ok, ok I confess, since my stay in Hever Castle I have become a little obsessed with that royal-esque life…….
Joking aside, not only where we travel to, but where we stay will be more considered. We are not really into huge chain type hotels anyway, but that will be even more the case. The small independent hotels. Family owned or boutique style accomodation. Small chain or privately owned accommodation. Sustainable hotels (like Longueville Manor in Jersey), that have low eco impact and support their local communities and areas. These will be the things I look for even more thoroughly in my places to stay. I am actually looking forward to the challenge of researching and finding these kinds of places! Already I am excited about the thoughts and ideas to travel differently!
Appreciation for travel
I know without doubt, that lots of us are missing travel so badly! Conversations I have had with others has told me we are all in the same boat. So, I’m wondering if we will all emerge from this madness with more appreciation for travel? Not just saying the words because it is how we feel now, but truly appreciating our privilege to travel.
During my walks, I have been casting my mind back to the trip that really sparked my obsession with travel. I was 18, had packed all my belongings I needed into a brown and blue back pack, and set off across the world. I wasn’t really sure how long I would be gone, I just knew with certainty that I was the luckiest girl alive. I was off on the trip of a lifetime, going wherever the wind blew me.
We all know I am old, so it is no surprise that this was in the time before mobile phones, FaceTime, Skype or any other of the technological ways we can keep in touch now. You literally went off grid. My parents sometimes did not hear from me for a couple of weeks, sometimes months at a time. I used to write them letters every week, (and keep a journal), but if we were in the middle of the Australian outback for a while, there was no post office. The letters would be sent when we headed to the next town.
The lack of technology was a blessing and a curse. It was tough not being able to pick up the phone to my family when I was feeling homesick. It was also hard not to have those instant photos to email home to assure your family all was well. But, it also meant there was no facebook, Instagram or any other social media. No one knew where you were travelling or what you were doing unless you, (or your family) told them. There was no pressure to get curated and posed photos “for the gram”. There was no rushing to “the ten most Instagrammable places in …”. There was no competitiveness to get “that shot” or to tick off “that Country”.
It was just travel. It was just absorbing yourself in the culture and the country. It was just appreciating and acknowledging the privilege we had to experience it all. The absolute honour it was to travel. We drank it in with unquenchable thirst. I can remember sitting on a beach in Bali. (Bali was a life changing experience for me). I was with a little old lady with no teeth left in her mouth. She was twisting beads into the bottom of my dreadlocked hair, sharing her paper wrapped fresh fruit with me. We could not talk each others language, but her toothless grin and my grateful one, meant that we conversed of sorts. (plus, she kept trying to kiss Nik’s cheek which I found hilarious)…
Sitting on that beach, gazing out a the sea, was one of the happiest times of my life. Even now, I remember how truly, truly, heartfelt happy I was.
That is the travel I want to get back to. Simple travel. Appreciated travel. Life affirming travel. Fleeting meeting of souls. Slow travel. Does that even exist anymore? Maybe after Coronavirus? Maybe if we remember the lessons we are being shown now? Perhaps it could exist again?
Could we step back to travel differently?
I remember having a conversation with the amazing Ellie from The Wandering Quinn. She was about to embark on a huge world trip, (which she is still on), and we were discussing travel as it was, and is now. I will always remember her saying to me that she was envious that I did my “big” travelling when I did. None of the social media showcasing and pressure. Just travel for the love of travel. I think she was right you know. It is there for the taking if that is how we choose to travel. Do you think we could travel differently and take a little step back??? Maybe……
I would love to hear what you think. Do you feel any differently about the way you travel? Have you found an even greater appreciation of it? Has it made you reassess how and where you want to travel to? Do you feel the restrictions on travel during the pandemic have taught you anything? I would absolutely love to hear how your feeling. Let me know xx