Lyn Hughes: Do we take travel for granted?

With people exploring their post-lockdown journey plans, Wanderlust’s editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes wonders if it’s time to challenge ourselves to travel better...

3 mins

What have you missed during lockdown?

There’s been the practical things we could no longer do: not being able to meet with friends and family; getting a haircut; going to the pub; being able to buy avocados (my local shop may have had plenty of toilet rolls but it didn’t stock avos for several weeks!). But there was also that loss of carefree travel planning.

It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago the dilemma of where and when to go travelling was simply down to inclination, budget and available time. We could decide on a whim to go away the following month, week, or even day. We could see which destinations an airline had a seat sale on and book that.

Hen nights, stag nights and big birthdays had all developed from an evening locally with friends to an exotic break away. Meanwhile, enterprising companies were looking for the next big travel idea, creating ever more innovative and tempting ideas for the jaded or time-poor. Rather than gaze longingly at a globe and atlas and then research a trip, we could book a surprise break, destination unknown.

Of course, that very ease of travel led to the very visible horrors of tourism gone wrong. Just a few months ago we worried about overtourism, about the disrespect shown to culture and destinations by some visitors, about how tourism was biting the hand that fed it, destroying the very things that made a place unique. We may feel smug that we’re not one of those careless tourists.

But have we nevertheless been guilty of taking travel for granted? Of ticking off bucket- and every other kind of lists? And once we’re away, of rushing around getting the perfect shots for our social media friends, rather than truly immersing ourselves in the destination and living the moment?

If you’re reading this, you were born with the wanderlust gene and so there is nothing you can do about your addiction to travel. But, should you and I give more consideration to our motivations and choices? Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, recently said: “We have been given the gift of reshaping how we travel in the future. We don’t have to go back to how things were – we should be challenging ourselves to make better choices.”

So, yes, it’s time to travel again but maybe it’s also time to reset. To travel slower and wiser. To go where we are wanted and needed. To see travel not as a right but as something to be treasured. In one of our recent reader surveys, someone made the point: “When all this is resolved, I hope myself and fellow travellers will be even more grateful and astounded by this beautiful world. Freedom to travel is a privileged gift. Use it wisely.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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