Everyone has a passion in life. Whether it be family-based, vocational, a hobby or pastime or a belief, everyone is passionate about something. Passion drives us and fuels us, and it gives us energy to persist through the mundane or tragic. In a sense, it is what each of us live for.
Travellers (not to be confused by tourists or holidaymakers) are an extremely passionate bunch. Whether they are looking for adrenaline-fueled experience, culturally rich endeavours or simply a change of scenery, travellers tend to make the journey their ultimate priority in life, trimming away as much of the fat around their life as possible to make room for their primary interest.
Travel is both expensive and time consuming. Part of the fun for many is planning all the details of their next excursion. For me, that 3-4 months of downtime before the next trip is spent not only writing or reminiscing of a past experience, but applying all my experience and desires into the next big adventure. It is essentially a carrot always dangling in my view and generally gets me through the drumbeat of the day-to-day routine. Being conscious of one’s budget is incredibly important and I’d be lying to myself if I said my current life of being in my late 30’s but still living in an apartment with no kids (but a lovely and amazing wife) is a byproduct of my passion. My life has been carved out to enjoy the ability to travel on a fairly regular basis.
Travellers and their mental state might be the last thing that anyone wants to concern themselves with these days. Losing trips and plans pale against the more serious and life-threatening issues Covid-19 presents. It also screams “first world problem”. That said, the lack of a travel industry in many developing nations is a far bigger threat to their economic survival than almost anything else (and yes, I’m lumping in tourists and holidaymakers now). We don’t even know when things could even get back to looking like normal in an industry that has basically been beaten and left for dead at this point. Airlines are going bankrupt, routes are disappearing, the hospitality industry is getting more meager by the day and nobody has any clue what any of it will look like by the end of this year or well into the next couple years.
One can always plan their next big adventure, but how and why? This year I’ve lost three major trips and its easy to feel gunshy about doing any real planning. My trips this year included stops in American Samoa and Nunavut, places that are actually (and thankfully) untouched by this virus. That said, sans a vaccine situation (which is a completely unpredictable timeline and process), visiting said locales could be an impossibility as they are sadly but understandably isolated from the rest of the world. I had planned to be in Europe for the Euro 2020 tournament, but I can’t automatically assume that I can just start planning my routes for Euro 2021. I have too many unanswered questions. Will I need up-to-date health documentation? Will my own state, country or workplace be ok with travel without a 14-day quarantine? Is there a chance I can be denied boarding?
Oh, the 14-day quarantines… Countries and states are using it as an effective barrier to casual travel. It obviously makes sense – though it can also reasonably be viewed as a bit of an overreach on the actual time it would take to shed the virus and in many places, quarantines are still necessary to ride out even after a negative Covid-19 test. In that sense, this virus is as bad as we make it out to be, in almost every regard. It’s the supervirus of all superviruses basically because of what its characteristics might be, not what they actually are. We don’t definitively know enough about it, so almost every safeguard has to be taken into consideration. That in itself is a tough pill to swallow for travellers. While I understand the need for these restrictions and certainly don’t promote flouting them, I’m sure I speak for many when I say that everytime I read about a new restriction on travel to various countries or states, it is a gut punch reminder that we won’t be completely free to revel in our passion anytime soon.
Travellers will likely slowly find their way. Local travel, followed by regional and country-wide will follow. We’ll keep abreast of the latest developments and find our way through when we are afforded some wiggle room. We’ll likely be the first in line for any vaccination or documentation that will need to be procured before whisking off to another destination. Maybe the industry as a whole needs a rebirth, to heal itself along with the world. It is true that too many people were tromping all over the place, and a world filled with more travellers than tourists may make more sense as the industry rebuilds.
To my fellow travellers and adventurers, I look forward to seeing you back on the road again whenever that may be for you or for me. Let’s support each other and generally be good to each other. Most of us are all dealing with large voids in our lives right now and kind, encouraging words are the best medicine (at least until we find something to kick the covid the curb). As things slowly re-open, lets also not automatically shame others for traveling when and where they can (or why they are) – I don’t think increasing toxic vitriol in a community really helps anyone. By and large, the people I’ve met in this life are quite responsible and they won’t take undue risks to threaten theirs or anyone else’s existence. Most of us travel smartly and with a keen awareness of what respectful behavior looks like and are very considerate of guidelines in every place we travel.
Take care and be well!