When I worked in finance, we based our projections of how a company might perform in the future on historical data. A flawed method given nobody can know the future, but it was all we had.
In the world of travel, trends and past data helped us plan for the future, however in this unprecedented time, with freedom and movement restricted in a global way, how can we have any clarity? Few could have predicted how things have gone so far, and since nobody has a crystal ball, anything people share about how travel will change is just an idea.
The future is unknowable. Always has been and always will be. Yet I think on a soul level, there are some changes we will see in the future of travel. I might not know the when or how, but I do want a different why. These are my promises to myself and my hope for the way we will travel in the future:
We’ll Pursue the Adventure
When I started this blog in 2012, Instagram was in its infancy, and solo female travel was a new-ish concept. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of solo female travelers — there were — but it wasn’t as widely publicized as it is now.
I was traveling on a shoestring, sleeping only in dorms, eating street food, often taking only cold showers for a month, and living life on the beach. I’ll never forget taking night swims in the blue, glittery phytoplankton that lit up the calm, quiet South China Sea.
Back then I was on a choose-your-own-adventure. I showed up with no plans, usually taking the advice of those I met along the way and making spur-of-the-moment decisions. I had no itinerary and no specific photo in mind.
I miss that. Don’t you?
Traveling changed along the way to accommodate instantaneous sharing, and while I would not have a career if that weren’t so, I think authenticity will become more valued. I wonder if we will see more people returning to the pursuit of adventure, not the story they’ll tell later or the photo they’ll edit to perfection. At least, I’d like to hold myself more accountable to the adventure.
We’ll Value It More
I’ll be the first to admit I took my free movement for granted. I knew I had passport privilege, and though I appreciated it, I never expected it would change in the blink of an eye.
I went through my photos the other day feeling so much gratitude for the gift, then a question creeped over me. Did I value all of my experiences fully? I can honestly say that I did – about half of the time. The rest? I was distracted by something irrelevant, allowed much self-comparison, and didn’t thank myself enough for the adventure at hand.
It’s true you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.
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It feels weird to share this here but why the hell not be honest? I scrolled through my feed the other day feeling so much gratitude for the life and freedom I’d taken for granted. True, I’ve been able to see so much of the world and I’m lucky. Then I wondered how often the pursuit of the perfect social media post pushed me to hike farther, wake up to see the stars more, catch more sunsets and travel farther. I owe a lot to the medium, and it has also in many ways ruined it all, too. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I was always in a rat race wanting to get more likes and more followers. What would have been different if I’d had 500k or a million? Would I really feel more loved or more successful? I don’t think I could ever have enough. My goal was (still is) unattainable. People often ask, does taking a camera out and documenting it ruin it all? No. But the obsession with perfection does. And it is so damn apparent to me now. It makes my heart fall a little. It makes me wonder how it would look if it were all easy. Maybe even it would be even better. It would be more real and totally from the heart. No fake laughter or smiles in photos. We all do it. I feel we’ve been trained to compete and always be the best. But why? It’s a myth. You’re never better than anyone. We are mere specks of sand in the universe, alive for the blink of an eye. That’s not the world I choose anymore. Man, being isolated sure makes one question things.
We’ll Search Out Connections, not Numbers
We have an opportunity to travel more consciously in a post-lockdown world, searching for connections rather than approval through our devices. Maybe it sounds naive or altruistic, but travel was more about the connection in a pre-internet world. That wasn’t so long ago.
We didn’t care if we were dirty and sweaty, had traveled all day in a cargo ferry, hitchhiked in the back of a pickup truck, or ate with our fingers on the beach without a camera in sight. We didn’t have to go looking for incredible stories that we later made seem effortless or spontaneous. We let the journey unfold.
We’ll Do It For Our Own Enjoyment
I’m going to be damn selfish again – taking solo trips in pursuit of nothing but freedom, joy, and adventures. It’ll be for me, like it was in the beginning, and I will make no apologies for it.
Maybe if we all did that, there wouldn’t be as many quick trips and so many flights. We wouldn’t care about visiting every country in the world just to say we did it. We’d move slowly and consciously, just wanting to enjoy the moment. As anyone with a busy itinerary knows, you see fewer things and get to enjoy the moment less when moving so quickly.
If we were to enjoy nature more and connect with the people – to immerse ourselves – our enjoyment would actually benefit the world, and each other.
Maybe you came here to see a concrete idea of when the world would go back to ‘normal’, or to get clarity on when to plan again, and the truth is nobody knows. We don’t know when or how, we just know it will be different.
What we can do is commit to being better travelers when we have the opportunity again.
As Eckhart Tolle said, “Life is an adventure, not a package tour.”