Travelling post-covid: A never before seen Earth
As covid-19 tore through our cities last year, we were all driven into our homes to bide by the storm. For the first time, the internet surfaced surreal pictures of our streets framed in our new global habitat -- A world devoid of people, momentum and time.
In those times of retrospection, we realised that we took travelling for granted. Our once freedom to simply parole the streets were prohibited; Our favourite gathering spots were closed; Our social bonds estranged.
However, coming into 2021 as country borders start to open all around the world, the time to reconnect with our travels has finally arrived. So what is in store for us out there?
Explore a world that is healing
Despite how much damage covid-19 has brought upon us, it may come to a shock to see that our world has also entered a state of humility. Whereby our familiar streets were once no more than concrete jungles congested with locals and tourists, now the absence of such has allowed for a much needed cleansing to take place instead. As we would like to describe it, for once the streets were allowed to breath.
According to the Global Carbon Budget, satellite monitoring and roadway data show that nitrogen oxides linked to automobiles were down worldwide after lockdowns began, sometimes by as much as 50% in certain locations. And overall global carbon dioxide emissions dropped about 7% compared to 2019. Some countries like New Delhi, Los Angeles and Italy has seen a tremendous improvement in air quality from the decrease in smog, allowing its locals and tourists to walk its streets absent of its filter.
Life has also poked its head out in unexpected places. We have spotted beautiful flora regrowing amongst the concrete gaps and even rare sightings of animals on the quiet streets. Pictures of cows taking over the beaches at Corsica, France and deers enjoying a stroll along the streets of Japan, lend us rare moments of animals mingling with humans and our mysterious structures. Even Venice’s canals have cleared up, allowing you to see the fishes that were once obscured by its murky colours.
With a significant portion of pollution cleared and with nature rearing itself back into the city fray, the once familiar vacation sites takes on a new beauty in its rawness and convalescence. Tourists that have resumed on their merry travels have stated to us on how even the popular sites of Rome and Paris to which they have travelled many times before now take on peculiar meanings exclusive only to our current climate. Perhaps these meanings are also so striking to us due to how aptly adjacent it is to our own experiences, our journey of finally being released into the open world; The cities, as one couple told us, seemed alive for once.
Explore your own backyard
However as of now, there may still be many countries with their borders still closed for our travellers. One may be itching to fly themselves out to their dream vacations but find themselves to be running low on both choices and time. Not to worry as we prod you to rethink what travelling truly means to you. While we often desire to fly as far away from our monotonous landscape, we often forget that there are many pockets of our own towns and cities that we have yet to explore. Road tripping is all about digging yourselves into the treasure troves buried within your own backyard.
If you live in the city, then get on a ride and travel to the countryside where the quaint villages and arboreal fields lay. Sample homely cuisines that may be more unique than its sister variations, reconnect with the serenity found in nature, and deservedly, simply ‘be’. Though if you live in the countryside to begin with, then enter the cities and be floored by the neon lights and bustling nights. Enjoy the extravaganza as you enter its epicenter.
But don’t take it from us on how to enjoy your road trips. After all, they are special because they can be everything you want them to be. You can take off whenever you want, however you want, wherever you want. Instead of only sticking to famous tourist attractions due to being a non-native, in your own backyard you already know its kinks. You know exactly what your schedule will look like, how to travel safely and where to find the hidden gems. The core of travel, after all, is about gaining new perspectives instead of chasing new destinations.
Explore the unbeaten paths
Due to covid-19, many of our travellers have also highlighted concerns of avoiding the city centers. In Madrid, tourist arrivals dropped by 63.8% during the first few months of 2020. Similarly, with Mexico, even though its city borders are opened. Mexico has been hit hard by the virus 79,088 deaths. What’s more, with the density of its populace in Mexico City, many of our travellers have also expressed hesitance in travelling there. For once, travellers are avoiding the usual attractions but seeking for more remote sites. They want to travel the unbeaten paths. But rather than just the countryside, what is there to offer out there?
One such option is what many travel industry insiders consider “conscious travelling”. This brings us to sustainable ecotourism and ethical acting focused around conservation. Ranger Buck Safaris are ecotourism sites in Africa that protects endangered wildlife by supporting conservationists who ensure that both people and animals can coexist. It consists of awesome itineraries like Botswana’s luxury tented safari by air and Kenya and Tanzania’s 11 nights of magic in its animal observatory bubble. Now rather than just travelling for one’s indulgence, one can opt to support these conservation sites.
We do not want to underestimate that these conservation projects are completely reliant on tourism as well. But due to covid-19, many of their income has completely halted and there are many concerns that they will close down due to these effects. Travelling to these lesser visited ecotourism spots makes not just a memorable trip but one where you can leave behind a positive footprint on this earth.
Explore with a purpose
On the sentiment of leaving a positive footprint, many of our travellers also expressed the need to travel with a purpose. Being in stasis for so many months have made us itch for a vacation, but not just any run-in-a-mill getaway, but a proper journey. We have heard one of our business associates describe this particular itch that he has: “I have travelled to many countries all around the world with my family and friends and all we do is go to the same places. Clubs, hotels, universal studios; After a while what makes the attractions I go to in Florida different from the attractions I go to in Singapore?” We believe that while many people have been on getaways, not many have embarked on a journey. Getaways are, while not inherently bad, a form of escapism. But journeys possess meaning.
Similar to travelling in support of environmental conservation, one can find such meaning looking inwards as well. Some of our itineraries that received a boost in demand are wilderness travel as people want to spend more time outdoors, from the Himalayas to Antarctica voyages. Highly physical activities like hiking and cycling saw a spike as well, a means to challenge one’s body after sitting back at home for too long.
Some others sought meaning in intimacy. Rather than trips that focus on country hopping, there is more demand on long trips that focus on long stays in areas of smaller communities. Just like the safaris, travelling to quieter, tight-knit areas allows for a relationship to be build between the place and the traveller. You can take the time to absorb the culture, savour the cuisines and form strong bonds with its residences. Some of our travellers have even sought to learn entire new skills like how to paint or draw a local art form in Rajasthan or trying your hand at picking up a craft in Gujarat. Ultimately, rather than being a passive observer, you gain and you create. As the ideas of vacations become anachronistic as well, ‘workations’, a combination of work with vacations, means that these long stays abroad is possible as well. After all, a silver lining that covid has brought is the ability to work away from office.
Lastly, as many of our travellers still have a few doubts especially towards how to travel safely amidst a pandemic, we see the need to urge you to travel safely. As country borders open, many necessary covid protocols have been put in place from strict regulations in its airports, contact tracing efforts on the ground and increased sanitations in hotels and attractions. However this may not be entirely full-proof and outbreaks may still catch one off guard. We thus urge each of you to do significant research and planning to make sure that you are safe when you travel. Here are some considerations you can have when planning your trip.