8 things you learned in a pandemic that will help you when you’re travelling
Last year, just as we were starting to get the impression that this pandemic thing wasn’t going to be over in a few weeks, we shared with you a list of 8 things you learned while travelling that would help you during a pandemic. We were all so young and naive way back then in early April 2020, but now that most of us are vaccinated and it feels a little easier to be cautiously optimistic about normal life returning, we’re flipping the script as we start to look towards getting back out there. Here are 8 things you learned in this pandemic that will be hugely useful as you return to travelling.
1. You know how to be alone
Maybe you’ve travelled alone in the past, and you thought you were pretty comfortable with your own company, but the pandemic really forced you to come to terms with being not just alone, but a little bit isolated. That’s a really valuable skill when it comes to travelling, and maybe this experience has taught you that you can travel alone and be okay, if it’s something you’d never had the guts to try before. And if not, knowing how to be with yourself will come in handy if getting back into the swing of travelling with a buddy takes a bit of an adjustment.
2. You can work from anywhere
If you’re one of the millions of people who ditched the office for a kitchen-table workspace, you might be welcoming a return to a more social work life, but at least now you know you can do it remotely. If you’re lucky enough to work for an employer that has seen the benefits of focusing on the quality of your work more than the location of it, take that situation on the road and work from a hostel somewhere else in the country, or in the world. The digital nomad life has a ton of perks and hostels are such a great way to get more out of it.
3. You really need to travel
You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone, and if you found yourself missing the smell of airports more than you missed your grandparents, uh, don’t sweat it. That’s just proof that travelling really is a crucial part of who you are, and now that you know that, you’ll probably find yourself a lot more prepared to YOLO into your next adventure the moment you can. Carpe diem; book the flight. Right after you go visit your grandparents.
4. The world really is one big family
Living through the shared experience of a relentless snorer in an eight-bed dorm with a bunch of strangers from all over the globe really just goes to show how alike we are. The pandemic was like that, but the dorm was the whole planet and the snorer was a highly infectious novel virus. Stick with me here. Having literally the entire planet go through the same thing at the same time was awful, but also weirdly unifying. You probably already appreciate the smallness of the planet and the goodness of humanity from your earlier travels, but just think that now, no matter where you go, you can ask a total stranger how the pandemic was for them and chances are you’ll find something to connect on.
5. It’s easier than you think to stay connected from a distance
Zoom, Teams and FaceTime became such an integral part of our lives for a while there, it’s hard to recall what life was like when texts were all you needed to half-heartedly maintain a relationship. But knowing now that, when push comes to shove, we can celebrate birthdays virtually and appreciate one another’s faces through screens, it’ll make it a little bit easier to part with those we love to go discover the places and adventures we yearn for. Plus, your mom and your grandma know how to log on to Zoom now and you’re probably seeing a lot less of the insides of their nostrils than you did a year ago. That’s progress, and those skills don’t go away. Time to start enjoying your family’s nostrils from a different country.
6. Taking time for your mental health is important
Maybe your idea of me-time didn’t always involve jumping between episodes of Tiger King and Love is Blind (remember those?), but that’s what self-care looked like back in March 2020—an escape from the news in those early chaotic days. This past year and a half has taught a lot of us that making deliberate choices to slow down and take a break needs to be prioritized. Once you start travelling again, there will undoubtedly be pressure to get out there and go-go-go, but no matter where you are in the world, there’s streaming reality TV waiting for you when you start to get stressed and need to slow down.
7. How to roll with uncertainty
It’s wild how much adapting we’ve all done in the past 18 months, and it’s really hard to notice that kind of thing as it’s happening. But remember when we felt weird wearing a mask into a grocery store and complained about how dry hand sanitizer made our hands? That stuff is instinct now. Though none of us wanted or needed to go through this whole experience, we did, and we rolled with it and we carried on. That’s powerful stuff that’ll serve you well on your travels when you face the inevitable challenges and plan-changes that pop up on the road. If you can learn to live in a pandemic, you can endure another flight delay.
8. Global inequalities are real
While the entire world came together in powerful ways through the shared experience of a global pandemic, the whole thing also revealed some of the massive gaps between how each of us experienced the pandemic. For a lot of us, our privilege made things a lot easier on us than it was for those in less fortunate circumstances, whether they’re our neighbours down the street or strangers on the other side of the planet. Recognizing the privilege you carry with you on your travels (which is a privilege in itself) makes you a more empathetic and conscious traveller and overall a better global citizen. Use that for good.