Get up and go? Or hunker down and wait? This pandemic has permeated every crevice, wrapped its tentacles around the scintilla of our lives, ruling our decisions, constraining our options.
Pondering travel, I find myself ebbing and flowing, itchy to pack for some far flung, sun splashed enclave, only to be reminded of maddening Covid-imposed limitations on my travel map. Where there once was a smorgasboard, there’s now a limited choice menu. I don’t like this diet. Having been grounded over a year, I personally miss everything about it – researching destinations, booking excursions, loading my backpack, checking the departures board, the thrill of wheels up. I pine for the exhilaration of watching vivid scenery unfold from my airplane window, anxiously awaiting touchdown to eagerly explore it.
As a professional advisor, there are days when I wax and wane about promoting travel in the near term. Undaunted, I remain enthused about future prospects, continually striving to get others as excited as I am. I commune with clients about logistics, dates which suit their timing, strategizing future trips amid Covid protocols. Some clients are true adventurers, planning multiple trips this year to select destinations such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Midwest/Southwest USA, with more sojourns on the front burner next year. Others are more intrepid, awaiting their turns for the vaccine, and even then, cautious about exactly when they’ll be ready to leave home. I so respect that. I’ve got kids and grandkids, I honor these sensitivities as I temper my inner vagabond who yearns to rise amid local chatter in French, Spanish, or Portuguese.
I dive into weekly webinars featuring exotic novel places while savoring past experiences. Food culture is a succulent centerpiece of travel design. Easily revived are the scents and tastes of freshly split coconuts from an Aruban roadside vendor, chestnuts roasting on a fire drum in Antibes, the sensory traffic jam of Parisian cheeses in outdoor markets, freshly grilled fish in Vancouver, Indian curried lamb in Manipur served with intensely strong coffee. Good chow sparks friendships along the way. Longing for such immersions, I find myself virtually traveling more creatively these days.
Missing the feast of flight, I’ve driven out to RDU, Raleigh/Durham airport to breeze by the terminals, parking at the Observation Deck to watch takeoffs, just as I did when I was a Rhode Island tot. Packed in the back seat with my siblings, our dad drove us down to T F Green Airport to “watch the jets”. Truth be told, they were lumbering noisy props back then. It didn’t matter. We got to witness the glory of flight at the runway’s edge, captivated by the descent of gigantic teetering birds, narrowly clearing the rusty chain link fence – and our heads – a few feet from our station wagon. The perilous proximity, droning engines, and flashing lights filled me with giddy wonder how these colossal coasters ever stayed aloft and when I’d have a seat of my own on one of them. So began the birth of a future gallivanter.
Those early expeditions remind me of how restorative, invigorating, intellectually stimulating, or simply relaxing travel can be. It’s balm for the pandemic-weary soul. Physical movement releases those feel-good endorphins. The very act of transiting an airport, boarding a plane, hauling luggage, transferring to a hotel, foraging for lunch is a workout with visual and spiritual rewards. Bring on the caloric burn! And the beach chair.
I circle back to the present. There are multiple accessible destinations to be savored, when one is game to venture forth…the beaches of our own US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, ancient ruins in Tulum, rain forests and surfside resorts of Costa Rica, all frontrunners. Alternatively, no passport required for homegrown spots. Forests, mountains, and beaches are within driving distance for most of us as we create our own travel bubbles.
Travel engages our senses, refreshes our spirits, expands our minds, connects distant cultures. Exploration is a door waiting to be opened. The key remains within us to cross the threshold and seek our next adventure.
“If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.”