May we never take travel for granted again
As I write this, our country has commenced its 21 days of lockdown, an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.
I remember many years ago how excited I was when I planned a travel trip, either for work or for leisure. I’d spend hours making sure that the trip was nothing less than perfect.
Excitement enveloped me to the point that I never slept the night before a big trip. Over the years, and many travel trips later, that excitement got lost along the way.
Those sleepless nights weren’t exciting anymore, and the art of packing became a tedious act. Airports, once a place I enjoyed for its ambience and vast offerings, became a place where I checked in my bag and hurried to catch my next flight.
Flights, once a place where I relished the busyness of the cabin and the light banter from other passengers, became a transport vessel to take me from one place to the next.
Hotels, once a place I enjoyed showing off to my friends and family back home, became a place I rested after a long day of touring.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy travelling. I enjoy meeting new people. I enjoy discovering new destinations. I just, somewhere along the way, lost touch with who I was as a traveller. The thing I took for granted is the very same thing I desperately crave in this age of covid-19.
Two steps back
In recent months, the travel world has come to a standstill. Many airlines stopped flying to high-risk covid-19 areas, and many countries imposed travel bans.
Travellers, in fear of contracting the virus, shied away from travel. They instead opted to cancel their plans until the situation improved. Job security in the travel sector was under threat.
The covid-19 situation got to the point that many countries went into lockdown, shutting down major tourist attractions that drove their economy and many airlines temporarily suspended their flights.
No one wanted to promote travel at the expense of traveller’s lives.
After a recent trip, it made me realise how much I’ve taken travel for granted. For example, every experience ended with wiping down my items and sanitising regularly.
I sat in silence in the airport lounge after hearing about the rising covid-19 cases. Usually, I would indulge in the buffet spread and get myself a massage. Attempts to enjoy the scenery of a new destination disappeared as soon I heard about the crippling impact of the virus in my home country.
Recent events have also made me realise how important travel is for me and many others who are now experiencing cabin fever.
South African Tourism's new message “Don’t travel now, so you can travel later” is a reminder that travel is not lost.
We have to heed to the call of our government and make sure that we protect ourselves and others during this unfortunate time. Once this is all over, which will be soon, we can explore to our heart's content. The current struggle is a reminder that we should not take travel for granted. I know I won’t again.