New year, same restrictions. In what first felt like a bad dream, my world of travel – of adventure, day trips, local delicacies and intimate conversations with strangers – seems like a distant memory. And after starting another year under the cloud of a global pandemic, I have some thoughts.
I will admit, I don’t know who I am without travel.
How me and travel started our relationship
My love for travel started in my youth. I was selected to fly overseas and sing at a movie premiere (not a flex, it sounds more exotic than it was, believe me!) And since then, I’ve been hooked on adventure.
Being a teenager at the time (thirteen to be exact), I was besotted with all things foreign. I was excited to see skyscrapers for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the new sounds and smells. I fell in love on that trip. Not with someone, not even with myself. I fell in love with travel.
Since then, I’ve made a career out of it.
The rise of the modern-day travel blogger has been phenomenal to watch. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t dream of seeing a twenty-year-old nobody inside the halls of a five-star hotel. It was unheard of! A scandal! And back then, you’d better believe it was.
I can recall a handful of times I was met with scepticism when handing over my first class fee or checking in to a luxury Italian villa in the cheapest hire car euros can buy (that would be a Fiat 500, FYI).
But with the rise of the modern-day travel blogger came the rise of travel itself. Suddenly airfares that were once hundreds of dollars were slashed by low-cost airlines. In pre-pandemic times, hotels the world over were opening at a rapid pace. And if you became jaded by the price and process of travel despite its significant drop towards affordability, you could always make use of the share economy. Rent an AirBnB and you’d feel like a local in Barcelona. Ride in an Uber and you’d get to where you were going twice as fast in New York City.
Travel has changed.
It has evolved, become more affordable and fortunately, more accessible. It was no longer a luxury only afforded to the mega-rich. It became our new normal.
And then, the pandemic happened.
What happened when travel left me for dust
As I type this journal entry of sorts, I’m sat at my makeshift office desk back in the country I grew up in. I was living overseas when the pandemic hit, which is a whole other story, but when I finally made my way back home during the pandemic I knew travel was over for me for the forseeable future.
You see, Australia has been locked down for most of the pandemic. The borders were closed, visas were revoked, visitors were put on pause and even citizens were stranded abroad.
At one point, we were the laughing stock of the entire world. While Europe swung its doors open, ours remained tightly shut. While Covid-19 was sweeping across entire countries, Australia would lock entire cities down over a single case.
Then, new variants arose. New waves swept across Europe. And suddenly, we’re all back in some variation of a lockdown, mask restrictions, flashing our vaccine passport or in with our QR Codes. This is the new norm.
What is no longer normal, is travel.
And I have to be honest here in saying that last year, I thought I would never see the view out of a plane window again. I even said goodbye to travel as I ominously looked back at my career that was.
The truth is, this year doesn’t seem much different. I don’t know when I’ll be on a plane again.
That’s not to say I think travel is over (you can hear my thoughts on this on my Callin podcast).
But without it, I’m really struggling with my identity.
I don’t know who I am without travel. I crave adventure like nothing else. I dream about road trips I have taken and wonder when that unlimited sense of wonder will be found again.
And sure, I could travel closer to home. I did exactly that when I set out to discover more of Australia last year, with highlights including a trip to Lizard Island on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, my first time visiting Hamilton Island in Queensland and a few road trips around Tasmania.
But I miss everything foreign – new foods to try, new languages to learn, new customs and cultures. I miss the two way exchange of cultures. I miss making new friends in far away corners of the world.
And without it, I’ll be the first to admit I am a little lost.
My relationship with travel in the New Year
So in 2022 I’ll be making more of an effort to find adventure in different ways. Maybe it doesn’t always have to be a long-haul flight to find the foreign. Maybe it can sometimes be a new cookbook, a new cuisine to master. Maybe I could finally learn French (or at least try for the umpteenth time).
But I’m eager to hear more from you.
Without travel, what are you doing to keep seeking new experiences? Let me know in the comments!