The world looks pretty different right now as countries continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Those of us who live to travel are all probably feeling a particular kind of grief, as the world we long to explore is suddenly unavailable to us. The cancelling of trips, not knowing when travel will be safe again or how travel itself will look in the future… I won’t lie. I struggle with this. However, over the past weeks and months, I’ve found ways to ease the sadness and the anxiety that comes with the unknown.
Here are my five tips for how to cope with coronavirus when all you’ve ever wanted to do was travel.
This one can be kind of tough. The first few weeks after stay at home orders descended and I had already cancelled about 4 trips, thinking about future travel was rough. I avoided Instagram and all of the wanderlust inducing accounts I follow. I stopped looking at my future calendar dates, afraid to confront the trips even further in the future, as I started to realize those would probably also be cancelled.
But then I started looking at 2021. I started thinking about where I would want to go. What I would want to see. What I would want to eat and drink. And before I knew it, I was consumed by the joy that strikes me when I’m planning trips. And I had a two week trip trekking in the Caucasus mountains planned. (Because if there’s a silver lining, it’s all the vacation days I’m currently saving!)
Planning for the future is encouraging and hopeful. It raises our spirits. It reminds us this will pass. And for a traveler, nothing brings us joy like envisioning our next trip.
If we can’t travel around the world, why not eat like we are?? Food is one of the biggest reasons I travel. I’ve planned entire trips around eating. And in this time of quarantine, cooking dishes that remind me of my favorite places has been incredibly satisfying. In fact, I’ve learned that Mexican food might just be my ultimate comfort food! With the internet at your disposal, you can find recipes from all over the world with varying degrees of difficulty. Make yourself a dinner from one of your favorite locations and for one night, pretend like you’re there.
This one usually feels like a chore for me in my daily life, as I know it’s going to take hours, if not days, to fully organize all of my photos from a trip. However, a never ending amount of hours at home screams “no time like the present!” I’ve found that going through these pictures while being confined to home helps me relive those travel memories even more acutely. And instead of feeling sad about this predicament, I remember the people I met and the things I experienced. It makes me feel very fortunate. And I’ll remind myself, these experiences will be here again.
It’s easy to sit inside all day, wishing things were different. Fight that urge and get moving outside.
I think one of the biggest reasons we travel is because many of us have this insatiable need to explore. I’ve been amazed by how much I’ve been able to discover in my own neighborhood! I’ve found plaques explaining local history, parks that would be perfect for picnics on a sunny day, and beautiful pieces of architecture that I probably never would have seen without the daily 2 hour walks that have become my new normal. Who knew just wandering around our own neighborhoods could satisfy that urge to explore and roam?
Finally, embrace the feelings that come with this major life disrupter. At first I felt maybe I didn’t have a right to feel sad about not traveling. After all, I’m still healthy. I still have an income. Others are far worse off than I.
But then I realized something. For me, traveling is joy. It’s when I feel most alive. It’s why I structure and prioritize my life the way I do. And you know what? It’s okay for me to grieve the loss that I’m feeling.
However, after I’ve embraced my feelings, I get to work on one of the four aforementioned tips to start rediscovering that joy :)
I hope you’re staying healthy, safe, and happy. I look forward to getting out there and exploring our beautiful world with you all again soon. Until then, I hope these tips help keep your spirit of exploring alive, even if, for now, it’s only from your couch.
Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, is characterized by a great diversity of landscapes and ecosystems. Indeed, the Pendjari National Park and the W Regional Park, located in northern Benin, are two of the most protected and biodiverse semiarid grassland ecosystems in West Africa.