Covid-19 has caused a global pandemic, international fear, and economic tailspins. I’ve learned through self-development that there are always lessons to be learned from every experience, including this one.
It’s important to reflect on how the world has changed (so far) from because of the coronavirus and, as this is a travel blog, to reflect on what it’s telling us about travel. Here are some travel lessons from the coronavirus.
We need to be more mindful of how we travel
The coronavirus has all but halted travel, inciting reflection on the industry from a wide variety of perspectives.
From commuting to work to multi-layover flights, we have learned that the decreased emissions have led to a quick improvement in the climate, which I mentioned in my Coronavirus Thoughts post. We have to think about our carbon footprint and our impacts on the world when traveling in order for traveling to continue. Sustainability is the only way forward and there are many articles on how to be more mindful about your impact while traveling.
In this time, we can do 2 things to help the environment as we travel:
- Read up on how to become better travelers for the environment in #9 on my 10 Secret Travel Prep Tips post
- Travel from home! Explore the world from your PJs, saving money, time, and lives:
- Online communities sharing photos like Facebook travel groups and travel sub-reddits
- Google Earth
- Most links from the article 100+ Fun Things to Do at Home Right Now, From Virtual Tours to Animals Cams and More
Social and traditional commercialization
Something that dawned on me as I reached the final leg of my trip was how so much in Asia had become commercialized. From traditions to clothing to religion, we are often causing a watering down in the meaning of important traditions, causing negative impacts in societies, and cause changes that completely alter the makeup of communities.
One example is child begging, where children are taken out of school by their parents after tourists began to give a few dollars, causing a chain reaction of lesser-educated youth, greed, and a norm of begging.
Now, is the selling of tickets to performances of traditional dance inherently wrong or evil? No. But when a culture fully becomes a tourist attraction, it toes a similar controversial line of cultural appropriation. To what extent does a tradition become extinct, changing its meaning until the only version that’s left is the tourist one? That’s where, I believe, the danger is. As long as there is a version that the locals continue to practice and it means something to them, and they’re fine with showcasing their wonderful culture for educational purposes, I can support that.
So think about the experiences you’ve had or are thinking of having in the future and consider the extent of the commercialization of it and whether or not you’re morally okay with that. As each stance is subjective, it’s up to you. You know mine.
The reliance on external things
The travel industry is extremely volatile as it depends on external factors, many of which are natural catastrophes that unfortunately strike rather often. Hurricanes, bush fires, trade wars, you name it, the travel industry suffers. The pandemic is just the latest indication that the industry is fragile and one to enter with a pinch of caution.
Individually, we often place our happiness in things outside of ourselves, making it hard to control and maintain on a regular basis. For many, travel is one such factor, which I find to be dangerous. An escape mechanism for many, travel is a luxury. Sure, it’s a lifestyle for many, but at the basis of it, it’s a luxury. Never before this century were we able to take vacations on exotic beaches and ski hills. We don’t need it to survive.
What we do need is in-person social interaction. Humans are naturally social creatures. One of the worst punishments in some prisons around the world is solitary confinement. So our current #stayhome situation isn’t ideal, especially if living alone. Video calls are the next best thing but they ain’t the same! Not traveling, even to the next neighbourhood (let’s just consider this as travel), is taking a toll on everyone. We are reliant on people external to ourselves to remain sane. It’s an evolutionary mechanism that’s causing stir craziness all around the world. We need this external thing.
The adventurous are missing a part of themselves
What else is the coronavirus is telling us about travel? That not traveling is bad for the wandering souls, those who crave adventure, who find comfort and peace from nomadism. Not traveling means that we don’t get to experience different cultures and ways of living, we don’t get to grow through the unique hardships that backpacking presents, we don’t get to learn lessons about the world first-hand. Travel is a luxury but it’s an amazing one. Those who feel at home without a home are stuck, unable to be their true selves. Not the end of the world, but these people exist and further show our reliance on travel.
There are some countries safer to quarantine in than others
Most of us have a home base to return to. As seen in news coverage globally, some countries were taking precautions more seriously than others. Now, we’re seeing heavier crackdowns and laws being implemented, shining the light on the kind of actions which governments are taking.
In the Philippines, if you’re caught outside your home by the police, their orders are shoot to kill.
In Japan, they make sure to have staff wipe down documents and luggage before and after touching any of it.
In the United States, some states are still not ordering mandatory quarantine (as of 20/04/12).
In an article by Travel + Leisure, the article writer traveled to Japan during the quarantine and stated she felt safer there than her home country of the USA due to their diligent hygiene and public order (everyone taking things seriously, wearing masks, etc.).
Being quarantined is a different experience in each country. When borders open up again, will people continue to travel to places that aren’t ready for global emergencies?
Alright, enough of the serious stuff. What are some of the positive lessons about travel from the coronavirus?
Gratitude in a time of fear
Many of us have realized that we’re grateful for so much despite not being able to travel in this time. We’re healthy, have a place to stay, and have the ability to read this post! So many people are hooked up to ventilators, others attending to them, others keeping our supply chains open, and others trying to deploy new equipment. They don’t have the time nor effort nor luxury to rest, stay at home, and stay healthy. They’re feeling responsible to do their part in keeping this work functioning and taking care of others.
Some of us may have lost our travel plans, our money towards them, and our time to go traveling, but there’s so much to be thankful for.
We’re more connected than ever
As the social creatures we are, we’re lucky to live in the age of technology. So much can be done online – learning, working, and even quasi-traveling! We get to connect with others by text, voice, and video. Being at home doesn’t mean being completely alone. We’re not meeting people in another part of the world, but there are many possibilities to find global connections with a few clicks and taps on your device. That’s powerful stuff.
We can learn from the comfort of home
We don’t need to travel to learn about ourselves and gain new skills. All over the internet are lists to help you try a new hobby, learn something online, and even just keep ourselves occupied. Websites are offering courses for free, YouTube is a never-ending place to learn, and software companies are opening up pro options. We can learn to our heart’s content while at home.
I love self-improvement and bring it into almost everything I do. Learning about ourselves is super important, in my opinion! So let me ask, “is this really what you wanted from life?” We have the opportunity to reflect on our lives before the quarantine and ask ourselves if we designed them such that there’s enough traveling to satisfy us. Learn about yourself, your life, what you want, and what you need. If you need help with this, get in touch by email or commenting below! I’m also running a life coaching business to help people with life direction and would be happy to chat.
For more reading on coronavirus lessons on travel, here are 2 articles that I found while researching for this post:
- 7 Important Lessons I Learned From My Travels That Are Helping Me During the Coronavirus Lockdown
- Coronavirus Holds Key Lessons on How to Fight Climate Change
What are you learning in quarantine? Let me know in the comments below!