Travel has taken over my dreams. I’m fantasising of bizarre plane journeys where we land in strange countries I’ve never heard of. Or I’m lost in a city, guidebook in hand, desperately seeking out the nearest toilet. What’s the underlying message… Anxiety? Stress? Or just hopelessly missing travel?
I was supposed to be on a plane to Italy tonight. The sort of travel I just took for granted. It was a friend’s 40th weekend and we would be flying in from all over the world. Never did I imagine that I would instead, spend this weekend on lock down inside my apartment in Singapore.
It’s incredible to think how our lives have changed. The ability to travel is a luxury I never thought twice about. The chance to hop on a plane and see my family in London. Overseas gymnastics tournaments. Our annual US roadtrip. Long weekends spent adventuring in SE Asia, taking advantage of budget flights and cheap last-minute hotel deals. Now I’m thankful to get to the supermarket and discover tinned tomatoes on the shelves! I miss so much about travel. Landing in a brand new country and watching the world go by from your airport taxi. Seeking out that ‘must-have’ local dish and tasting it for the first time. I even miss the sh*t parts of travel; jetlagged kids, turbulent flights, transport delays and mystery hairs on hotel pillows.
I have no idea how long this will last and when I will next get on a plane. I do know that I will treasure the ability to travel and will keep adding to my travel bucket list. The tourist industry has been hit hard and many livelihoods have been destroyed. Whilst I am thankful for my health and I understand the purpose of lockdown, I am saddened for all those in the travel industry who have lost their jobs.
Reading Maggie O’Farrell’s fantastic memoir, ‘I am I am I am’, she mentioned interesting scientific research into how travel can make you more creative. Professor Adam Galinsky says ‘Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms’. Of course this doesn’t mean you sitting on your arse on a sunbed for two weeks. To make the most of travel you need to immerse yourself and engage with the local culture. At this point in time, I would love nothing more. If restrictive travel has taught us anything, it’s that it should be so much more meaningful. Stop taking it for granted. Soak up your time somewhere new. Try to do something you wouldn’t have done before – perhaps seek out a new food, activity or engage with locals in a way you hadn’t done before.
So tonight, instead of getting on my plane to Italy, I’m going to mix myself an Aperol Spritz and Zoom my mates instead. I’m going to get my dose of world knowledge in our weekend quiz and I’ll keep saving up for that next adventure…