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A Changing World 2020

How do travellers find a sense of home in a world without movement?

Watergate Bay, Newquay Cornwall. Taken August 2018.

My whole life 'summer' has meant the excitement of a new adventure. It has meant booking a flight to a new country with the prospect of the unknown ahead. In the last 6 years, I have been lucky enough to explore and my summers have been spent in; Africa, Australia, Hawaii, Mainland America, South East Asia, Indonesia, Europe, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. This summer, like others, I had a few plans in the making to make sure I could get my adrenaline fix; surf a few sports around the world I had my eye on, and bag some mountains above 4000m. Due to the current and ongoing coronavirus, I think we can all agree summer 2020 will be very different from previous years.

Coronavirus has hit the world hard and in the space of a couple of months, the world has gone from being extremely connected through movement to half of the world being on lockdown. With over a million cases confirmed worldwide the world has pretty much shut down. With almost all borders closed and most flights being grounded, for most of us, we now live in a world without movement. The idea of being homesick has entered a whole new meaning. But what have we lost? For explorers and travellers, we have lost our freedom to move around. We've lost our right to roam, and not even our right to roam too far and unexplored places but, for many, even our right to leave our homes.

Sunset over Manchester, March 2020.

Not only are we coming to terms with a changing world, one in which being stuck indoors in the new normal. We are mourning the places we could have been and the people we could have met, if only we were able to move around and meet them. We fear for our family and friends but we also fear we are losing touch with people on the other side of the world. Our journeys seem to be about destinations, but they are about people - the people who make travel possible and who make places meaningful. For travellers being in unfamiliar places, with new people on the other side of the world is home. For us being stuck indoors at 'home' creates a new sense of homesick.

These uncharted waters are hard times for wandering spirits. It's rethinking years of planning and dreaming and changing the way we create and explore. Learning to simply be inside. Perhaps this is what we all need, a moment to stop, pause, and think. Take the time to heal, explore in books, paint and write, and I mean really write, to tell stories in other ways. This time at home has forced us to think about how we choose to spend our time. It goes by fast and doesn't come back. Every second we spend upset, angry, bored, unmotivated or doing something we don't want to be doing, is a second less to follow our dreams, to create new experiences, new adventures and truly feel alive.

As hard as this journey might seem, with enough curiosity, any journey can act as an expedition in its own way and it can lead us to discover great things. Let's use this time to build, to heal, and to reset. Travel can be a force of good - for supporting culture and conserving places and we are as motivated as ever to stay involved, stay hopeful, and stay inspired. For those of us who love to travel our hearts should be with the people who are suffering due to the reduction of tourism and as Andrew Evans, a writer for National Geographic, says:

"When we get back to travelling we should do it right by asking: How can I make sure my adventure benefits the individuals, communities, cultures, and natural spaces I encounter?... How can I help empower women around the world?... How can I help protect the wildest bits of our planet and make sure they survive this century?"

When the world opens back up let's change our travel behaviours. Let's try to avoid mass tourism. Instead, let's travel more sustainably. Earth is not only ours. Before we know it we will back out and be able to set free our adventurous souls.

Sri Lanka, summer 2019.


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