Quarantine grounded most of us. But for those whose lives (and livelihoods) depend on getting on an airplane, it has been particularly hard. For us, it’s one thing to not be traveling, but to not be able to take care of business has taken a frustrating toll.
While we all spend hours around the clock reminiscing about the way things were, there are a few things above others that I miss the most about traveling.
The Food –– The thing I find myself daydreaming about the most while in quarantine is the food. In good places, you can try something new every day, but in the best ones, you can try several new things every day right on the street. While I’m throwing together meals from what I have left in my pantry, I’m daydreaming about tacos con lengua in Mexico City, crepes slathered in Nutella in Paris, green papaya salads in Bangkok or a saucy Francesinha Sandwich in Portugal.
The Flexibility –– I almost always travel alone, so one of my favorite things about being abroad is having no social obligations. I don’t have to go to a job (though I do frequently have to work), and I can’t be swayed to meet my friends for dinner or beers or to attend their various events and performances. If I want to stay up late and sleep in? I can. I can go to the airport to catch a flight, ditch it, and end up buying a ticket somewhere else. I can get off a train early because I liked something I saw out the window. When you’re alone far from everything familiar, you can be precisely as flexible as you like.
Arriving Somewhere Brand New –– But of all of it, all the miles and years and passport stamps, the thing that makes me secretly smile to myself more than anything else is the thud of the plane landing. For me, that’s when all of the anticipations I’ve built up for my trip are crystallized, and I’m suddenly more excited than I can bear. And of all the little signs that signal to my nomad brain “you have arrived”, none is more potent than the audible ping of the seatbelt sign turning off after your plane has taxied to the arrival gate.
Exploring a new country and culture … is the best way to satisfy my need to learn and be challenged.
I deeply miss that human connection that invariably comes with travel.
Travel offers a break from the monotony of daily routines and often pulls people out of their comfort zone to the point that they often try new or unusual activities they wouldn’t be inclined to try from … their home base.
Travel becomes not just the way we derive satisfaction, but the lens through which others see us and, ultimately, how we see ourselves.
To reignite a sense of hope and freedom, start designing your first post-quarantine trip today and be ready when health officials determine it’s safe to travel again. Research shows that the anticipation of a vacation brings more satisfaction than the actual vacation itself, so men and women can derive some gratification during quarantine simply by looking forward to their next planned trip.
There may be no substitute for travel that feels as deeply enriching and satisfying, especially for those of us who use it to maintain excitement, manage anxiety, connect with others and stay challenged and engaged. But this time in lockdown has helped some travelers gain a new perspective. This is a great time to take advantage of that and start planning.
When we’re unable to travel, it’s so easy to romanticize it. We remember all the gorgeous vistas and stunning sunsets and not so much the rainstorms and missed connections. While I would never trade a day I’ve spent on the road for anything, it’s good to remember, especially now, that traveling is not always sunny skies and rainbows. However, I do miss it and cannot wait til international travel opens up again.
What do you miss about travel?