4 Ways I Will Travel Differently Because of the Pandemic
Photo Credit: Atikh Bana/Unsplash
As more cities relax their COVID-19 restrictions and countries prepare to reopen for tourism, I’m beginning to make some much-needed vacation plans. I used to take an international trip every three months, but after a year of not traveling, I am re-evaluating the way I visit foreign places and thinking about travel in a new way.
More than ever, I realize that getting to see the world on my own terms is a privilege. Here are a few ways I will travel differently as a result of the pandemic.
1. I’ll continue wearing a mask on the airplane, even after mask rules relax
Airlines still require passengers to wear masks while flying, but even after those rules are relaxed in the future, I will stick to my mask. I typically pack a multitude of medicines whenever I travel because as soon as I land, I catch a cold. For so long, I thought this was from the pollen or air quality of my destination. Now I know it’s likely from being in close quarters with people who may also be ill while flying.
I had to fly several times during the pandemic, mostly for business. I became used to wearing cloth masks on long haul flights, so now the feeling isn’t even intrusive. I'll keep wearing a mask while flying even while vaccinated so I can keep myself a bit healthier and keep others from getting sick.
2. I won’t take touristy places for granted
“Be a traveler, not a tourist” is a phrase a lot of hardcore travelers use to describe their travel style. My travel writer friends take pride in finding off-the-beaten-path places, living like a local, and steering clear of tourist traps they think somehow make their trips undignified.
But after restaurants, attractions, and entire borders closed due to the pandemic, I realized how privileged I was to travel at all. For over a year, I wasn’t able to see my favorite cities or visit a new country. The possibility of never seeing the Eiffel Tower again, or even visiting Disney World, felt heavy. To me, those places are not as bad as my travel writer friends make them out to be. I’m going to stop avoiding the main attractions of a place because there could very well be a time in the future I won’t be able to see them.
3. I’ll shop small
Small businesses were hit hardest by the effects of the pandemic. While the world is slowly reopening in the US, 34 percent of small businesses still remain closed. They are still recovering from reduced hours, full closures, and more.
While I mostly shopped at small businesses pre-pandemic, now, more than ever, shopping small will be a priority. Whether it’s an independent bookstore in Brooklyn or a farmstand in Serbia, I want to keep my dollar local as much as possible and help these businesses recover.
4. I'll spend more time in nature
Before the pandemic, I was strictly a city traveler. I wanted constant stimulation, cultural sites, and diverse food offerings. Once cities began to lock down, I craved the peace and quiet of nature as a way to remind myself that the world offers its own way to help us feel calm and safe.
I'm going to explore more mountains and forests in the coming year, go camping, and spend more time near bodies of water. I want to be more in touch with the natural world and appreciate what all that it has to offer.