How are you all getting on around the world? I found last week hard. A physical and mental slump as week eight of the lockdown dragged on and the UK’s approach to the crisis came under the spotlight in world media.
As time goes on, I find myself creeping further and further back in time, into my memories of past adventures.
Throughout last week’s Covid staycation, I must have been subconsciously craving comfort in wilderness than I can’t find locally. My thoughts kept diverting to the wilder trips I’ve taken. The ones that changed me and still continue to impact my life.
I reflected on the first time I ever saw the Pacific Ocean on the coast of Peru. A careless twenty two year old who would never have dreamed that their new passion wouldn’t always be available on tap. My first big trip below the equator was everything I wanted at the time: The excitement of crossing a continent without the worry of travelling alone and new friends by my side throughout the epic three month journey. It was easy.
In the years following my embarrassingly tearful departure from Rio de Janiero airport in 2007, I learnt to pack in under an hour, book plane tickets on a whim and keep my passport handy for last minute weekends away. I would travel with friends if they wanted to come along, boyfriends less so! Although most of the time, I travelled alone. It was just easy.
So easy in fact, that back in the autumn of 2010 I didn’t even bother booking a return ticket to Australia. A Working Holiday visa only took 24 hours to arrive online. I planned a trip through south east Asia on route, with a budget of just eight hundred pounds for eight weeks of adventure. And it was all fine. It was all, with hindsight, so very easy.
In the winter of 2013, when I started writing here, I travelled from Beijing to Moscow by train. At the time, a three week trip overland (including the flight from Sydney into China) was still cheaper than the 36 hour plane ride with the better airlines. A no brainer. It was a huge trip in terms of miles covered and giant in what it meant for the way it changed my life. Retrospectively it seems strange that I didn’t give it more thought. Again, that’s the beauty of hindsight.
After another four years working in London I was off again. A six month career break at the end of 2017 to Central America. I called it a ‘career break’ because I was 34 years old and it seemed more appropriate. Not because I had any intention that it would be different from my previous adventures. I never stop learning and that trip was no different; travelling extensively with a partner in tow for the very first time.
My opinions on what adventure means have changed a lot since that first cross-continent expedition. I do now realise and readily accept that adventures can be had anywhere. I love searching for new experiences on my doorstep as much as wandering further afield. These days I don’t even feel the constant urge to jump on long haul flights into the middle of nowhere, or someone else’s somewhere. Just occasionally.
Although all of a sudden, nothing is quite so easy.
Will long distance travel ever be the same again? That’s the question that’s really plaguing me. Social distancing, stringent vaccine records, temperature checks and more expensive tickets might make bucket list trips and spontaneous travel almost impossible in the future.
In truth, I’ve always been spoilt. I assumed that my journeys around the globe would continue to punctuate the gaps in between my homogenous days of corporate office work. Until now it had always worked to do both because I had access to both. I’m not sure that the benefits of one will be entirely obvious without the existence of the other.
So that’s why I slumped last week: My epiphany that home can’t really be home if you never leave it.
On that note, while I can’t help feeling that today’s announcement by Boris to start lifting restrictions is a little premature, I’m also very excited to take a slightly longer walk. It’s certainly not a cross-continental camping extravaganza, a multi-country jaunt on a shoestring, or a train journey of more than 6,000 miles.
But it is more than a mile and at this point, I’ll take it.