Here we are again back to traveling after a long COVID hiatus. The world is moving again and if the last several packed full flights I’ve taken have been any indication, everyone is ready to get out and explore again after being stuck in our homes the last couple of years. And while I think travel has picked up steadily since the first of the year, I’m recently getting back into the groove of consistent travel, similar to what I was doing before the pandemic. And as I’m traveling again (and seemingly so is everyone else!), I’m finding that I’m getting really emotional about travel again. For years of my twenties and early thirties, I traveled a lot – both for work and for fun – and in those years I was incredibly fortunate to see and experience so many incredible places. Stepping foot on every continent except Antartica in those years, visiting 30+ countries, countless cities, and experiencing so much of this amazing planet made me understand how much travel can teach us, how much it can change us, and I took each moment, each experience in to really feel it. So now, after 2+ years of a pandemic, after 2+ years of not being sure what’s next for the world and for travel, I’m back in it and I’m ever so grateful. As I get back into travel and experiencing our world again, I’m realizing what travel is teaching me… again. I’m realizing that I still have so much to learn from what this world can teach us and I’m looking forward to diving in again, with these lessons in mind as I start exploring again.
It doesn’t matter how long you stay somewhere, it’s the moments that matter.
I’ve always been a proponent of travel in any way that works for everyone individually. I don’t necessarily believe that you have to spend a lot of time somewhere to really get the essence of a place or to really experience it. I’ve been known to do a long weekend in Europe or Asia and sometimes those really quick trips throw you into the deep end of travel so much that you have no choice but to really dive in and experience it deeply. Instead of the length of your stay, I really believe that travel is about the moments, the experiences. I have had moments in so many different places in the world that I remember fondly, some from short trips, some from long ones. But in the end it’s those moments, like waiting around long after dinner in DC with my cousin waiting to see a secret service motorcade bringing the Greek Prime Minister to the restaurant we just eaten at – a so-very DC experience. It’s like wandering home tipsy from dinner in Reykjavik with Nick after a long dinner in one of our favorite places in the world on our first post-COVID trip, holding hands and just generally feeling so grateful to be traveling again. It’s moments like watching the sun rise over Lake Pichola in Udaipur, the sky purple, the boats floating on the still water, wrapped in a scarf as the slight breeze floated over the lake. The moments we experience when traveling are different than our everyday, they are moments and experiences that bring us to life, that make us see the world differently. I’m realizing this more and more as I get back to travel again, realizing how much we took for granted before the pandemic and how much I hope to never take for granted ever again. So if you’re looking at a trip and you don’t have as much time as you want, still go. You can still really experience a place even if it’s in a short time period – it’s not about how long you’re there, but the experiences you have and the moments you make.
Don’t wait to see the world.
I hear all the time from people – I can’t wait until I can travel – waiting until some unknown time in their lives when they think it will be easier to travel. Whether it might be easier financially, emotionally, time-wise – whatever the reason, don’t wait. We don’t know what’s ahead for each of us or for the world in general and if COVID has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t ever know what’s around the corner. Whatever is holding you back from travel, there are ways to make it work and do it now.
And even without things like world-stopping pandemics, countries go through things that make travel that much harder. There are so many places that I’ve seen in my years of travel that I probably won’t ever be able to go back to or it will be entirely different if I return. I still am so grateful that I was able to go to Myanmar when I did in late 2019, just months before a coup that overthrew their democratically elected government and threw the country into military rule that has taken rights away from millions and made it unstable and dangerous for visitors. I reminisce about that trip often, roaming around Yangon by myself, hair flying in the wind in the back seat of a taxi or chatting with locals at my hotel and witnessing first hand how proud they were of their country and how far it had come, only to feel so much sadness months later when those same Burmese people had that ripped away from them. Or places like Machu Picchu that are greatly different to visit now as rules have changed due to over-tourism. I look back on our trip to Peru and visiting that famous monument, wandering around on our own and taking it all in, and am in awe of the freedom we were allowed there. Now, rules have changed and more tourists are required to enter the sanctuary with a guide and have less freedom to explore. The lesson I’ve seen time and time again – if you want to see the world, if you want to travel, do it now, don’t wait until you think you’ll have more money or more time. That day might never come and you’ll look back and regret not going.
Remember, we’re in this all together.
The pandemic has shown us that we’re more connected than ever before in history. What happens in one corner of the world, greatly affects another corner. And after going through a worldwide pandemic, it just made me realize all the more that we need to remember that we’re all in this together. As a tourist in another place, this becomes even more important to remember to be a responsible traveler, that you are leaving a place as you found it, that we aren’t making something worse for someone by traveling to their country. As we get back to traveling, let’s all remember that we all have more in common than we have differences and be respectful to local customs, traditions and beliefs.