It’s January as I write this, but I believe any time is a good time for resolutions, goals, plans…or even wishes. The world shut down in 2020. Writing about travel–beyond the local grocer–seemed ridiculous. But now it’s a new year, and the calendar seems open and ready. Let’s talk about future travel.
My last international trip was in December 2020. I went to Cuba with Road Scholar. It’s a fascinating country, beautiful and sad at the same time. Read An American in Cuba: Restrictions, But Worth It.) What Cubans do to simply “get by” on an island that relies on imports for just about everything is astounding. But they’ve been at this for over sixty years, so memory of “before” faded a long time ago. I couldn’t wait to return.
2020: Despair and disappointment
When the pandemic hit, I was briefly relieved that I didn’t have any future travel plans until October. Surely, the virus situation would be upright by then. But we all know how horribly wrong I was. I survived Covid-19, but too many other souls did not. Sincere condolences to readers who lost loved ones.
Lockdown was imposed, daily life was restricted to four walls, the economy crashed. The mere thought of going away for pleasure was selfish and disgusting.
Restrictions lifted for a few brief weeks in the summer. I took off like a jackrabbit for an overnight hiking trip at Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Illinois. I was also able to squeeze in two days with my grandson in Springfield, Illinois. Then Covid-19 resurged and everything shut down again.
That October trip to Peru? Cancelled. So was the February 2021 walking adventure in Vietnam. We’ll see about the August-September time in Scotland. By now, I’ve accepted the possibility. Safety and health come first.
Why bother to plan for future travel?
Plans are important. They help us anticipate. They are signs of hope. A study by Cornell University showed that thinking about travel–and then planning for it–makes us happy. Even when future travel is uncertain, looking ahead is good for our mental health.
An article in Applied Research in Quality of Life found that planning and anticipation was almost as good as–or better than–the actual experience. (Post-trip happiness depends on how stressful the holiday was.)
So, I encourage you to begin to plan your next travel adventure, even if it can’t happen until later in the year, or even next year. Decide what you really want to do and begin to take steps in that direction. Consider what you’ll do differently going forward. Think positive!
My resolutions for future travel…
Stuck indoors for months, witnessing the tragedy of the pandemic, certainly made an impact. For a long time, it was hard to think about next week, let alone next year. Who could make any type of travel plan, when you couldn’t even eat at a restaurant–let alone get on a plane?
Events are starting to change. It’s a new year, a vaccine is going to be available, and the curve is slowly flattening. With 1 out of 11 people employed in tourism, the push to return to “normal,” however that will look, is on.
I hereby and heretofor pledge the following ten resolutions:
- I will adapt to the circumstance or regulation. I’m pretty sure I was already good at this, but now it seems more important than ever. Next week, a negative Covid-19 test result will be required to re-enter the country after foreign travel. Finding a testing center will need to be added to the list. A hassle? Maybe…but it’s better than not being able to go at all.
- I’ll do more domestic travel. Along with in-country, I also mean local travel–I live near Chicago, one of the great cities of the world! Until the wrinkles of international travel are smoothed out, I resolve to learn more about my own state, region, and country. This helps boost the economic recovery. AND I speak the language!
- I want to stay longer and see more at each place. Some call it “slow travel.” I’m not one to race around, but now I want to spend more time digging deeper, no matter where I am. Hunker down and live “local” for a spell. Maybe that means I get to fewer destinations, but I will really know and understand where I’ve been.
- I won’t complain about jet lag. Ever. In fact, it will be a new source of gratitude. Jet lag means crossing time zones, and time zones mean adventures and discoveries. Heck, I won’t even complain about sitting in Coach for hours and hours! (Read Jet Lag: How to Prevent It…and Cure It.)
- I’m going to stay up late. Early bird–that’s me. Sunrises and morning coffee make my heart sing. However, that means my bedtime is close to a three-year-old’s. I know I miss out. I promise to see all times of the day, no matter what. (To see what I mean, read Mornings in NOLA: Watching New Orleans Wake Up.)
- I will be more supportive of local businesses. For many years, I sought to earn and retain elite status with hotels. That meant bypassing smaller, family-owned hotels. I relied on guidebooks to tell me where to eat, instead of asking the taxi driver, shopkeeper, or simply wandering into a bistro. I’ve changed those behaviors, but now it’s more important than ever to support local people whose livelihood depends on us. Just do it.
- I’m going to be more spontaneous. I subscribe to a dozen travel deal sites; my email gets flooded with last-minute offers, short getaways, and interesting bargains. What do I do? I hit delete, mostly without even opening them. No more–I promise to look at them and consider throwing a few things in a bag and heading out.
- I will increase my travel savings. Let’s face it, travel costs money. With extra safety measures that are certain to be implemented, everything is going to be more expensive. Plus, we want to stay longer and do more at each destination. We can’t let that stop us. Find a way to save more every week.
- I want to find less-traveled places. Confession: I’ve not been to Venice. And at this point, I’m not so sure I want to get there. The crowds–30 million tourists a year–and the strain on the city and environment? No, thanks. Italy is wonderful, so I won’t give that up…a bit of research and planning will lead me to a delightful alternative. Maybe even a place without a t-shirt shop. Every country has off-the-radar spots. Find yours.
- I intend to take more trains. Sure, trains are slower–especially in the U.S. But maybe that’s the whole idea. I took Amtrak to New Orleans a few years ago. It was interesting, and I think I could be better-prepared next time. Embrace the time and stay in the moment. European train travel is different, of course. Those folks know how to do it well.