5 Essentials of Post-Pandemic Travel
My wander-must (some people call it wanderlust but for me, it is a must, not a lust) has been off the charts. This last year and a half have been a rough season for travel addicts. Trapped like hamsters, we’ve learned to explore locally and responsibly. As businesses closed because of the pandemic, the pickings for exploration thinned.
I was burnt out and frustrated with my lack of travel. A friend mentioned NYC in a passing conversation causing my internal pilgrim to go berserk. I returned home that evening, booked my housing and airline tickets, and a week later I was wandering the streets of my favorite city in the U.S.
I walked 10 miles a day through neighborhoods like SoHo, Chinatown, the East Village, Tribeca, and Grammercy Park. I allowed my mind to absorb all the tactile senses and emotional energy I could handle. I got lost in the joy of being free again.
Shuffling along the magic avenues of the Big Apple, I took mental notes of how I was responding to a resurrected world of travel. There have been historic changes in travel that we must adapt to if we want our future journeys to be sustainable, enjoyable, and leave things better after we depart. Here are the five that find the most essential.
Not since the Great Depression have local businesses struggled tooth and nail to survive. Local businesses give you a home-grown experience, allowing you to truly partake in a culture rather than a corporation. These small businesses need your dollars more than ever. The temptation for homogenized, national, well-funded chain stores and restaurants is for the lazy traveler. Shop local. Eat local. Play local. Enjoy the personality of the places you’re visiting.
One of the big mistakes in travel is the mad race to cover as much territory as possible. This usually means long car rides, quick stops to tick something off the visit list, and exhausting itineraries that leave no time for engaging with the locals. Instead, take a deep dive into the history, people, and places you visit, allowing that specific area to tell you a story of the whole. By slowing down, you will be able to process and delight in a place.
Give Your Time
When Wonder Voyage leads pilgrims we tell our teams, “You don’t really know a people until you serve a people.” Set time aside to give back to the communities you’re visiting. In this way, you will get to know those who live in these spaces, learn about the local culture, and give your most precious commodity–your time–as a gift. Whether you are in NYC, the jungles of Belize, or an island in the Caribbean, you’ll be amazed at the opportunities you have to serve.
Every travel experience provides the opportunity to uncover local stories. To find these hidden treasures you must embrace curiosity and reject a judgmental attitude. People who long to learn and grow naturally engage in curiosity. The best way to pull out a story from a stranger is to know how to ask good questions. A good question will open a floodgate of tales and one of the forms in which wonder expresses itself.
When we decide to parachute into a location like an invading soldier we look like uncaring travel mercenaries. Changing that old paradigm may be the most vital change we need to make as travelers. Every person on this planet has walked through trials of COVID. For the first time in the history of mankind, we all have a singular experience we can relate to. In a strange way, it brought us together. Consider your greatest goal of travel, not to entertain yourself, but to make a lifetime friend.
When you’re ready to reengage with travel, we can design a road trip, domestic adventure, or overseas pilgrimage to meet your needs. Your story is out there, waiting to be lived. Are you ready to reconnect with wonder?
After a decade working in parish youth ministry Shawn started Wonder Voyage Missions. Over the last 15 years, WVM has led thousands of pilgrims to over forty countries. Shawn is a storyteller and an award winning filmmaker. He is an author who brings the gift of engaging narrative to our journeys. Shawn is dedicated to creating voyages that give people abundant opportunities to encounter God.