The covid19 pandemic has been disasterous to the travel industry. Many travel bloggers and influencers have lost their hobby, passion, or even livelihood. Several entrepreneurs working in tourist-related industries for example in my home country, especially in Lapland, are close to bankcrupcy. The situation is much more severe in those countries that are poorer and highly dependent on tourism.
I feel you. I really do.
While other people are facing several health-related problems, financial struggles and mental issues due to the pandemic, I long for travels, new experiences abroad, exploring different countries. And I can’t help thinking if even feeling that way is somewhat selfish.
The case of first world problems
I understand that many like-minded travel fanatics are struggling with feelings of wanderlust. I do that myself. At the same time, it is good to comprehend how first world problems these are. Many people have never had a chance to visit another country in their whole life. Generations before me hardly ever travelled. Not all families even in rich countries like Finland can afford to satisfy their feelings of wanderlust. People like myself just have been extremely lucky.
Yet it is normal to experience these feelings. Anxiety, sadness, frustration, even anger are justified. But it is also good to put your situation into a perspective. Living in a country like mine is an absolute privilege. It is not so bad to stay safe by sitting inside your warm, comfortable apartment and being surrounded with all entertainment possible, is it?
Why even compare?
Why even compare your situation with the situation of others? If someone somewhere is having it worse, why would it make me feel any better? Well, sometimes it is good to work on your cognitive tools to handle unpleasant situations better. To focus on the good things you have or to see the silver lining. So when I get this rush of wanderlust and feel sick and tired of the whole situation, I aim to re-direct my thoughts toward the positives. Closing down the borders has encouraged me to explore my home country, spend more time visiting nature parks and focus more on my mental health. I have saved money (I’m so grateful for still having work), been able to support local businesses and spent more time with my family. It’s not denying the negatives, but deciding to not focus on that.
There will be a day when this is over. I don’t know when but one day that day will come. So will and should travelling return back to “normal”?
Aviation, other forms of transportation and tourism overall are sources of pollution and drivers of climate change. Is it selfish to long for free, easy and cheap travelling from that point of view too? Or should this current type of (almost non-existent) travelling actually be the new normal? Maybe that won’t be the case for a couple of decades but probably during my life time.
I know one thing. Humans as a species have always been on the move, wanting to explore new places and going beyond the known. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have inhabited places like Australia or Northern Siberia. We wouldn’t have gone sailing beyond the edges of the known world. Travelling is much more than a form of spending one’s holiday. It is a way to collect new experiences, to meet your loved ones, to work, to adventure, to live. It is a way of being a human.
Travelling will never end. Maybe it will be different. Only the future will tell. In the meantime, let’s stay safe.