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13 professional travellers give their resolutions for another Covid year

Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon. Picture: Instagram

Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon. Picture: Instagram

Published Dec 28, 2021

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By Natalie B. Compton, Hannah Sampson

As yet another tumultuous year for travel comes to a close and yet another coronavirus wave sets records, the team at The Washington Post remains hopeful for what is to come in 2022.

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The surges in delta and omicron variants warn us that we may get tastes of freedom when cases calm down, but some unforeseen havoc may be lurking around the corner to thwart our travel plans again.

No trip is set in stone. No take off is guaranteed. Any optimism comes with caution.

Those caveats can make the trips we take more memorable, more appreciated and more rewarding. So we keep planning, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

To draw inspiration for our eventual adventures, we collected thoughts and goals from 13 of our favourite travellers. Here are their New Year's resolutions, edited for length and clarity.

Carole Hopson, United Airlines pilot/ IG: @carole.hopson

There had already been a pilot shortage looming when the world ground to a halt because of the coronavirus.

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The Cares Act had to be enacted twice to save transportation jobs, mine included. I launched the Jet Black Foundation, a program with the goal of recruiting and training 100 African American female professional aviators.

Our mission is not only purposeful, but also simultaneously solves a real-world business challenge.

As I reflect on 2021, I am convinced that equity is not some vague notion. It is a solid business solution to the pilot shortage, and Jet Black intends to search from a virtually untapped talent pool - 2022 will be fruitful, as we intend to raise $7 million to empower Black women to earn a pair of wings.

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Victoria Leandra, journalist and podcast host/IG: @VictoriaLeandra

Visiting Colombia and Costa Rica in 2021 sparked my desire to continue learning about the many different aspects of my own Latino culture.

A week or 10 days of travel is not nearly enough to fully immerse yourself in a country to understand its nuances. I'd like for 2022 to be the year I begin travelling for an extended time while working remotely.

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The more time I have in a destination, the more time I have to genuinely connect with locals doing extraordinary work in their respective industries, which is something I'm interested in highlighting through EL ADN Podcast.

On a more personal note, I have this tradition where I take my mom on a mother-daughter trip each year, and I'd like to start that with my father in 2022.

I'd love to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with him. If there's something I've learned from the pandemic is that family time is precious.

My last travel resolution for the new year is completing a full marathon abroad to officially become an international "travel runner," a concept my friend and I started using after our half-marathons in Puerto Rico and Miami.

Rick Steves, travel author and host/IG: @ricksteveseurope

One year ago, as I happily said goodbye to 2020, I hoped - and expected - that the pandemic would be over by 2022. Now, though, it's clear that we'll be travelling cautiously for a while.

But, thanks to two recent trips to my favourite continent, I have a new optimism. Here are my takeaways for European travel in the new year:

The news at home can stoke ill-founded anxiety. I wouldn't tell Americans, "Sure, you can travel . . . no problem." But I would say, "You'll feel at least as safe in Europe as you do traveling here in the U.S."

From Athens to the Alps and Rome to Paris, I was struck by how normal travel felt.

My big fear was that my favourite little mom-and-pop joints hadn't survived.

From Alessandro's osteria to Dimitri's taverna to Heidi's chalet, these are the entrepreneurial ventures that enliven our travel experiences . . . the kind of places I weave into my guidebooks, TV shows and tours.

And thankfully, nearly all my favorites are still standing - tired and hunkered down, but strong and determined.

The joys of European travel are still waiting for us: the rattan seats at the Paris corner cafe, the passeggiata (evening stroll) in Rome and the edgy street art tour in Athens.

And from Norway to Portugal to Turkey, my resolution for 2022 is to happily (and safely) venture where my travel dreams take me.

Alvaro Silberstein, CEO of Wheel the World/IG: @alvasil

My 2022 travel resolution is to continue creating opportunities for people with disabilities.

My excursions, the people I've met along the way and ideas I've had while travelling have been some of the greatest sources of inspiration throughout my life.

In 2016, with the help of my friends, I became the first person in a wheelchair to complete the W trek in Patagonia.

This trip is what inspired me to found Wheel the World, a travel guide and booking site that prioritises accessibility, and encourage other people with disabilities to feel empowered to travel without limitations.

During the coronavirus, people with disabilities had to isolate and restrict themselves even more than most.

This is why travel isn't just something we want after long quarantines; it's something we need to free our minds and feel capable of living life to its fullest.

Marcella Hudson, co-founder and program director of beGirl.world/IG: @begirl.world

As I travel throughout 2022, I plan to nurture myself daily. If quarantine has taught me anything, it has taught me the importance of self-care. It is so easy to jump up in the morning and start a busy day.

When I am at home, I go for a morning walk and afterward sip coffee on the patio before starting work.

As I discover new spaces on my travels, I'm going to continue this routine all while taking in the sights and sounds of another land.

I am establishing the practice of transformative travel vs. transactional travel. Instead of just hitting bucket list goals, crossing off the next country on the map, or quickly travelling to the next hot spot, I want to slow down and focus on the culture, history, architecture, cuisine and vibe of each location.

I am going to learn more about the lives of the tour guides I meet, extend graciousness and gratitude to the essential workers I encounter, and bask in the spirit of humanity and wonder.

Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, travel writer and host/IG: @JetSetSarah

My biggest personal resolution is to finally set foot on the continent of Africa in 2022.

Ancestry.com tells me that like many other people with Caribbean roots, my forebears are from West Africa, most likely Benin, Togo and/or Nigeria.

Professionally, I'll continue to champion the Caribbean as a layered, nuanced and culturally rich region of so much more than just sun, sea and sand.

Annie Cheng, founder of The Table Less Traveled/IG: @anniechengeats

My travel resolution for 2022 is to integrate my work travel and personal life.

Travelling for work on our boutique culinary tours has always felt more personal through the relationships and connections I made with locals around the world.

Originally, I took those journeys independently, often leaving home and family for up to six months a year.

However, with more companies adapting to virtual collaboration, my partner and I have more flexibility.

Next year, whether he is attending a conference in Texas or I'm hosting a tour in Italy, we'll be travelling together with our little one in tow, taking turns with remote work and child care.

Our goal is to add extra days, or even weeks, to each destination so we can keep "home" and family together.

Adam Richman, host of the History Channel's 'Modern Marvels'/IG: @adamrichman

Before the pandemic began, I was living and filming a show in London, one of my favourite cities.

When I had to return home, not only was the show unfinished, it also felt like I left my experience in London unfinished as well.

In the new year, I hope to return to England. There are still places in Asia and Europe I have yet to visit that have long been on my bucket list, but with the surge of the omicron variant, I am going to proceed with caution.

While Europe will have to wait, the beauty of the US will not, and there is much left to explore in the coming year - wide-open spaces that are Covid-safe, inspiring and breathtaking.

Kathy McCabe, host of 'Dream of Italy' on PBS/IG: @dreamofitaly

My travel resolution is to listen more and appreciate everything I hear. Italy is the place I visit most often, and the most surprising thing I missed was the range of unique and even comforting everyday sounds.

Oh how I missed the cadence and pitch of la bella lingua - the "beautiful language" - being spoken around me, the strong chhhh sound of the espresso machine at the local bar, the symphony of street sounds from buzzing Vespas, the distinct sound of European ambulances and even the voice of a nonna yelling "Giorgio" off her terrace.

I promise not to take for granted the very sounds of travel itself, from the "ping" of the seat belt sign to the pound of the passport stamp.

Ruzwana Bashir, founder and CEO of Peek/IG: @ruzwana

I've missed taking the epic bucket list trips, with my favourites including ice-trekking in Argentina, exploring the Palmyra ruins in Syria and seeing orangutans in the rainforests in Borneo.

My travel resolution includes bringing those back, starting with my current trip to Thailand to ring in the new year.

But over Covid, I've also realised that adventures can be close to home.

When far-flung places were inaccessible, I made the most of my weekends - like renting a boat for the day to sail around Los Angeles and taking a road trip to go hiking in Yosemite.

Travel doesn't feel guaranteed anymore, so next year I'm committed to being spontaneous and finding experiences to make the most of every moment.

Sebastian Modak, Lonely Planet's editor-at-large/IG: @sebmodak

About three days into a week-long cycling trip - a largely aimless and improvised loop in northern Vermont and southern Québec - I realised that I had stumbled upon something I had so often missed in my years frantically criss-crossing the world: the joy of moving slowly and deliberately.

In 2020, Year of New Hobbies that it was, I quit smoking, momentarily stopped travelling internationally and got a bit obsessed with cycling.

As I looked for ways to tap into adventure, serendipity and the magic of travel without navigating closed borders, 2021 was all about multi-day bike touring.

I pedalled out into the Hudson Valley, into the Adirondack Mountains and even into Canada.

In 2022, I want to keep doing that, but I also hope to put into practice some larger lessons from that style of travel. I want to travel slower and more intentionally. I want to realize how lucky I am to be out exploring the world, even if it's in my own backyard.

Catherine Powell, Airbnb's global head of hosting/Twitter: @capow14

For those fortunate enough to do so, working from home now means working from any home.

The freedom you feel when you realise you can go a little farther if you stay a little longer is just the antidote to the isolation we have all experienced.

In my case, this has meant enjoying long weekends away with my husband in California, Utah and Colorado, and longer stays with family in the U.K. and Italy.

My goal for 2022 is to discover more of the United States (Georgia and Nashville are next on my list), reconnect with family overseas and - having started my job at Airbnb right as the pandemic began - spend time with team members and hosts whom I have only met via Zoom.

Andrew Zimmern, TV host and goodwill ambassador for the U.N.'s World Food Program/IG: @chefaz

I am not one for New Year's resolutions. However, I do always look back at the last year to take inventory, see what worked and what didn't, what actions and behaviours brought me closer to my goals and which ones didn't.

I tell anyone who will listen to imagine what kind of life they really want and then say "no" to anything that didn't help them get there. Sounds easy. It isn't.

Travel for me has always been transformative.

The more you venture away from your normal, whether that's around the world or on the other side of town, the more you learn.

Away from our primary habitat we take more risks, ask more questions and try new things. Then we learn, grow and bring all that back.

Well, I didn't really travel in 2021. And that was the primary source of growth for me.

Travel had been the single greatest learning activity in my life - until I stopped it entirely and spent more time with my kid than I have in a long time.

Turns out, I don't have to travel to take risks, ask questions, try new things and learn from that process.

Turns out, the more time I spend with my favourite human, real time being really present in those moments, it achieves the same result. And I got more of the life I wanted at the same time.

I guess you're never too old to learn a new trick - or to take a different kind of journey.

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