8 things you learned while travelling that will help you in a pandemic
Staying at home when you want to be travelling is harrrrd. Worse yet is not really knowing when life will return to normal. But as you spend your days at home away from people, you might start to realize how much your travels are helping you get through this next bit of solitude, stillness and uncertainty. Here’s just some of the stuff you already know how to do:
1. You know how to cook with weird ingredients
Maybe the next grocery pickup/delivery slot isn’t for another two weeks or you just don’t want to brave the grocery store at the moment, but there may come a day when you’re staring at nothing but a can of diced tomatoes, a bag of dried lentils, garlic powder, spaghetti and worcestershire sauce. When your cupboard shelves start to look like a hostel’s free food shelf, you just need to tap into your skills from the road and craft something weird but edible. Been there, done that.
2. You know how to set (or forget) your fashion priorities
Carrying your wardrobe in a backpack forces you to make some pretty bold fashion choices from time to time. When you’re travelling, function takes precedence over form, just like when you’re isolating at home and no one else sees your bottom half for maybe weeks at a time. And honestly, if a stain isn’t visible on a Zoom call, does it even exist? You once wore a crumpled-up t-shirt as a hat for a week straight in Australia and, if memory serves, it actually looked kind of good. This is nothing
3. You can have a conversation with anyone (or anything)
You’ve become super good at striking up conversations with strangers, but if you’re Canadian, you’ve also definitely apologized to a couch or coffee table within the past year. Combine those traits. Have you asked Alexa about her hopes and dreams for the future? It’s important to check in with those closest to you. And it’s ingrained in you.
4. You can’t research too much
As a traveller, your Googling knows no bounds, and every single image of a place can inspire a new trip plan in your brain. If information is available online, you know how to find it. Is there somewhere to store your backpack at the Louvre? Got it. Can you fly from Oslo to Gdansk on Tuesdays? On it. Now you can harness these skills to stave off pandemic boredom by descending into a very worthwhile and informative Wikipedia rabbit hole. No seriously, look up rabbit holes on Wikipedia. Fascinating.
5. You know good wifi is crucial
You know the depths of sadness that exist when there’s no free wifi, so while everyone’s getting their Tiger King on like it’s their constitutional right, you’re able to step back and appreciate the fact that your modem is working in the first place. That’s called gratitude and there’s nothing quite like it when it comes to getting through the tough times. Also, Joe was set up. WHAT.
6. You can communicate with loved ones from afar
As a traveller, being separated from friends and family isn’t something new to you and you could easily teach the grandparentiest of grandparents how to install WhatsApp. You know how to power through bad connections and botched microphone settings like a pro, which will serve you well now.
7. You know plans will change
If you’ve travelled for a while, you know from experience that you can have the best laid plans and they will change. This probably isn’t how you planned to spend your spring, but travel has taught you how to roll with the punches and adapt when the weather changes, flights get cancelled, money runs out or not a single grocery store has Nutella in stock. Pause. Breathe. We’ll get through this. You know that.
8. You know we’re all in this together
Nothing like travelling around the world and meeting its people and experiencing its many, many ways of life will make you understand that we humans are more alike than we are different. The news sometimes muddies that fact, especially in times of crisis, but difficult as this pandemic is—it’s reached nearly every corner of the globe and affected all of us in much the same way, regardless of where or how we live. Maybe you’ve been to Northern Italy and you’ve walked the streets that are now quiet. Maybe you shared a brief exchange in broken Italian with a shopkeeper in Bergamo, and now you wonder how he and his family are doing. Maybe you’ve stood in Times Square and cannot believe the eerily empty photos coming from there now. Travel connects us to places and people, and with connection comes empathy. Those feelings compel us to care and to act, and that’s a very good thing.