A woman looking through a sunny window with her hand covering her eyes

Travel is one of life’s greatest luxuries, but it might have taken a pandemic for us to realize that.

The ability to move from one place to another, to immerse ourselves in a place totally different from our 9-to-5 routine, to disappear off the grid, to live in an alternate reality for five days, to taste new foods and experience new smells is fuel for the soul. For some of us, we travel to the same place every year—places that ring of nostalgia and fond memories. For others, we baptize our senses with the thrill of visiting a new place and culture. 

This has not been our reality since March 2020. If the last year of abandoned airports, six-feet distanced spaces on airplanes, increased hygiene procedures, canceled vacations and postponements have revealed anything, it is that travel is unlikely to return to what we once knew. 

Travel is one of life’s greatest luxuries, but it might have taken a pandemic for us to realize that.

In some cases, this is for the better. Hotels and hospitality are waiving a lot of unnecessary charges and offering generous cancellation policies. In other cases, travel preparation has been extended by vaccination requirements, lengthy boarding procedures, controversial COVID passports, mandated quarantines and negative PCR tests. 

The pandemic has revealed how easily we were able to travel before and perhaps how much we took that for granted. It has also revealed how much we construct our lives around the ability to travel. Understandably so, since the last 50 years have made it easier than ever. Easy travel enables us to connect with loved ones, to work in a foreign country one day and at home the next.

Half of my family and a good number of my closest friends live abroad. The prospect of travel changing for the long-term is a tough one to stomach. I love how travel connects us as a global community. I get excited whenever I hear of a new route opening up between two nations. However, I admit that my view of travel pre-pandemic was rather privileged. I considered it—money permitting—an assumed right, rather than a luxury. This put my heart at ease knowing I’d see loved ones whenever I wanted to, and so this last year has been an abrupt wake-up call. 

The prospect of travel changing for the long-term is a tough one to stomach.

The changes in travel are not without positive benefits too. These changes might help us slow down and be present with those around us and treasure time with people abroad when we are with them. They might even force us not to live life at 1,000 miles an hour. With less accessibility to travel, we’re also healing the environment and starting to take care of the planet. Perhaps, the changes to our travel ecosystem will help us stop living for the next adventure, but instead with a deep appreciation for what is around us.

One trend emerging since the pandemic is the desire for intentional trips with a clear purpose. In other words, there is less room for frivolity and consumer-based travel. Today, travel is purposeful. Digital nomads are booking trips where they can combine working from home and being on holiday. Instead of booking a getaway by plane, people are resourcefully saving the big travel for when it is actually needed. Sustainability and the desire to tread lightly are becoming commonplace in society, even in the travel industry.

When it comes to travel, we could live our lives pining for the return of “normal.” On the other hand, we could notice the opportunities that inevitably come up when we come face-to-face with the brevity and fragility of life. Changes to travel may force us to resist the pull of hustle, rush and the constant on-the-go mentality and bring us back to a slower pace of living.

How has this last year changed your perspective on travel? Were there things you once took for granted that you appreciate about travel and adventure now?

Image via Valarie Duran

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