Recently, I stopped reading the news and confined myself to something of a blissfully ignorant existence on the Greek island of Skopelos. Here, miles away from the pandemic, it probably seems that I am having a midlife crisis, removing myself from the current global situation.
It’s easy to socially distance when you are on an island with just a few thousand people and your neighbors are goats and stray cats. Your days are spent walking, writing, and foraging for berries. Again, I pose the question, am I having an early midlife crisis?
Skopelos boasts real Tom Hanks in Castaway vibes. Sooner or later I will end up creating myself a Wilson.
Perhaps it seems as though I am putting blinkers on to what is going on in the world – almost like a child sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting “LA LA LA LA”. However, this is not incognizance or denial. Rather, a desire to filter out all of the scaremongering garbage that rolls around the media.
Back in March, the vast majority of the world’s aircraft were grounded. Even as borders reopened in Europe and limited countries across the globe, people had a (justifiable) apprehension about traveling again. Now, almost a year after the very first COVID cases were documented in Wuhan, global air traffic is down more than 40% YoY against October 2019.
With the unprecedented travel industry shakeup, articles started sprouting up across various print and online publications, like mushrooms on a damp day. Each one providing their predictions for the future and with that, each one more pessimistic than the last.
Stop Reading Clickbait
THE END OF TRAVEL AS WE KNOW IT. One states. Will we ever be able to travel again? Another ponders. VIRTUAL TOURS ARE THE FUTURE! A third proclaims.
Pray tell me, why are we amplifying these voices in the midst of a pandemic where even leading scientists are unsure as to what the future holds? Are these self-proclaimed “experts” really so informed as to the post-COVID future of the travel industry? In an era where Karen on Facebook thinks she knows more than epidemiologists, possibly so.
These articles are nothing more than clickbait. Travel publications, bloggers, and writers, all make money from advertising revenue. You are not reading their “ultimate guides to Paris” right now, so they need to recuperate their income losses by grabbing your attention with other “hot” topics.
It is just a shame that their attention-grabbing is done in such a negative manner, particularly at a time when morale is low and people are struggling with COVID-induced anxiety and mental health concerns.
The same people who would advise you not to pay any mind to mainstream media and national tabloid newspaper’s scaremongering portrayals of certain destinations as “dangerous”, are now employing the same scaremongering, clickbait inducing methods themselves when it suits. It’s enough to have you lose respect for the value of what that Travel Writer has to say going forward.
The World is Waiting
The world is still there. The sun still rises every morning and sets every night.
The Eiffel Tower still watches over the French capital. Petra still hides in the middle of the Jordanian desert, illuminated by the lights of a thousand twinkling stars by night.
World wonders, places of great natural beauty, historical monuments, they are all still right where they’ve been for centuries. They will still be there when life and travel can resume, even if that’s something that we have to wait a while.
In the immediate future, will we be likely to jet off to Uzbekistan or backpack solo around Armenia? Possibly not with ease, no.
However, 2020 has demonstrated that one thing is for certain, people are almost as concerned about their freedom and ability to travel as they are about their job security. This summer saw Americans taking domestic trips where possible, and Europeans jetting to the Mediterranean in search of summer sun.
The Spanish Flu
Anybody that is not an epidemiologist should not be sharing their predictions on the lifespan of a virus that they are completely unqualified to discuss. Yet realistically, it isn’t going to go on for a lifetime. Just look at the Spanish flu as a benchmark.
The Spanish flu plagued the world for two years and infected approximately a third of the global population. However, you don’t pack for a vacation nowadays and worry about the Spanish flu do you? You don’t shout across to your spouse while sitting on your suitcase and trying to get it to close saying “Hey Sandra, any H1N1 in Greece this time of year?” No.
This Too Shall Pass
What is happening is more of a short term hiatus than a full regression of the culture of travel. We will travel freely again. We just have to be patient. Until then, eat your vegetables, mind your business, and turn off the news. Your mental health will thank you for it. Pessimistic predictions don’t help anybody. What we need right now is a little faith.
There will be casualties, yes. Tour operators that go out of business, hotels that seal their doors forever, Travel Writers that close their laptops for good – an unfortunate byproduct of the pandemic. Yet you will travel again. You will have the opportunity to venture to all of the beautiful places you’ve always wanted to explore.
A major difference? This time you will appreciate it more than ever.