COVID-19 came into MY life January 2020, a bit earlier than for most here in North America. Reason for this is because, I’m a Senior Travel Advisor, and in 2019 I had booked a couple on an epic journey around the globe, which was to start in early 2020. Their adventures were to begin in British Columbia, then to Russia, China, India, Jordan, Morocco, Easter Island, and then back to Canada with a couple of short stops in the USA.
Since this was a customised itinerary, with back-to-back segments, if one component was affected, then the rest of the trip was affected too, so when news out of China in early January became worrisome to the clients (and to all of us in the travel business), I had to cancel this couple’s epic journey (good thing they had insurance AND good thing we had booked them with G Adventures).
Jump ahead to April 2020, and I got laid off from work. Having spent more than 30 years in travel, which involved many long, long days and nights in the office (sometimes until after midnight!), I wasn’t used to having TIME on my hands. Like, free time. During some of that free time, I decided to sort through my photos, organize them, delete redundancies, etc. and of course that included travel photos.
Upon seeing my photos from 2019 (wow, only two years ago, but now seems like a lifetime ago!), when I had taken four trips (Iceland, Alaska, Vegas, Costa Rica), I had NO idea that that would be the end of international/trans-border travel for me for more than two years.
I had been taking 3-4 trips per year to that point, and had already been confirmed on an incredible once-in-a-lifetime trip to South Africa for early 2021 (which also had to be cancelled).
Jump ahead to today (ie October 2021)….yes, it’s been nice to have time to do what I want to do (art, making jewellery, blogging, etc), but I truly miss “talking travel”. I miss my clients. I miss chatting with our supplier BDM’s. I miss the industry gatherings. And so, I’ve decided to become an Independent Travel Advisor (or ITA). Once the contract is signed by all parties involved, I’ll be reconnecting with my clients and I SO can’t wait for that!
And so, I got to thinking…..”Would I honestly recommend booking a trip right NOW?”
So many things are up in the air and changing by the minute it seems, but I think that’s part of the “new normal”, and so, my answer to that question is “YES! Definitely!” Can those plans change, due to COVID, rules, regulations, protocols, etc.? Yes. Will they? Who knows. That’s also part of the “new normal”….everything and anything can change in the blink of an eye….you just have to roll with it.
The answer to that first question led me to another question, “Ok, but WHY should you travel now?”
Five reasons came to mind….
One reason you really should travel NOW is because you can never predict what’ll happen in the future!
It could be something as dire as a world-wide pandemic….but it could also be something like an injury, or death of a close loved one, an unforeseen job loss, or an unpredicted dissolvement of a relationship.
You never know what’s around the corner, so “waiting for the right time” is not a good idea. The right time is NOW, while you CAN.
Reason number two….the natural world we live in now is not the same world we lived in a decade ago, and it likely won’t be the same a decade from today.
For example, even looking back at photos from last year, two years ago, three years ago, here in southwestern Ontario, our maple trees were glowing bright golden, orange and red. The ginkgo biloba trees were a bright yellow, and already shedding those yellow leaves. The sidewalks were covered by brightly covered leaves, ready for the trick or treaters (ok, not in 2020, there was no trick or treaters) to sweep through them with their costumes on Halloween.
Today, the leaves on the trees are still green. Some, very few and far between, have turned brown and withered and dried and fallen to the ground. Here and there you can catch a glimpse of a few bright red or orange leaves, but you really have to look for them.
Why is this the case? Some say it’s due to global warming. I’m no expert, but I see no other explanation that makes sense…..so I’ll go along with the global warming theory.
Likewise, if you love nature and wild animals, specifically polar bears, global warming has done a number on polar bears’ habitats in recent years, dramatically shrinking the polar bear population worldwide. In fact, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that there are only 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears left in the world!!
Or maybe you love whales like I do.
I was lucky enough to experience whale watching in British Columbia a few years ago. When you’re lucky enough to witness something so awesome (and yes, I know, that word is over-used, but in this case, it’s applicable) as a breaching orca whale, you never forget that feeling.
But whales, too, are at risk because of habitat degradation, contaminants, climate and ecosystem change. Disturbance from (irresponsible) whale watching providers, noise from industrial activities (including oil drilling), illegal whaling or harvest, reduced prey abundance due to overfishing, and oil spills are all contributing factors to the decreasing whale population.
This post isn’t about how we’re destroying the planet (that’s a topic for another day), but we ARE destroying this place we call home….and so if you want to experience more of the beauty and wonder of the natural world before it’s too late, go travel now!
Reason number three: travel is good for you!
A few reasons why/how travelling can improve your health (mental, physical, spiritual, relationship):
Cortisol is linked to stress, and cortisol levels drop when you’re excited about something….like a vacation!
Having a yearly get-away (or could be twice a year, quarterly, seasonally, etc) gives you something to look forward to. I strongly believe it’s not healthy to dwell on the past or to pin all your hopes on the future, but I also believe that it’s very important to have something enjoyable, fun, and “different” to look forward to.
Exposure to new cultures, making international friends, studying new languages, and experiencing different types of food and music have been linked to better problem-solving skills.
Making a tradition out of your vacation getaway is not only good for YOU but it’s also beneficial to your kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews as it builds years and years of fond memories away with the family
Reason number four:
It’s been a rough couple of years, moreso than usual….with so many quarentines and job losses, we may be spending more time allowing the media to affect how we think about the world.
I’m not bashing the media here, by the way, but some are very sensationalistic and causing division where there is no need for it.
Depending on the media outlets you follow, you might be getting more influenced to dislike someone based on their ethnicity, their culture, they’re history……which is why it’s important for you to travel more! This might feel counterproductive, but getting out of your comfort zone, by visiting the country and people you think are one way, well, you might just find out for yourself that they are NOT like the media is portraying them to be.
When you venture “off the beaten track” and go to countries which offer more immersive travel experiences, chances are good that your empathy will increase, you’ll be less judgmental, and you’ll be more appreciative of all the conveniences we have in the developed world (clean water, a variety of food, a soft place to rest your head, safety, freedom, just to name a few).
Reason five……tourism is multi-million dollar business but many people (including myself) have taken a big hit when it comes to their income because if travellers stop travelling, those people have no income. Imagine all the people being affected by the sudden decline in travel:
- flight attendants
- ground crew at the airport
- food and beverage services
- airport cleaning crew
- security staff
- transfer company workers (those who pick you up at the airport and take you to your accommodations)
- hotel staff
- restaurant staff
- vendors (in markets, shops, on the beach, boutiques)
- excursion companies (those who take you on fun adventures once you’re in destination)
- the list goes on and on and on
Yes, it’s lovely to lounge on a white sand beach and have all your meals and drinks and entertainment included during your vacation, I’m not knocking that….but keep in mind, very few of those all-inclusive vacation dollars make it down to the staff who works hard to make your stay so comfortable.
Contrary to the above, when you book a more immersive travel experience, either as part of a small group or a customized, private trip, your dollars filter into the hands of the people who need it most.
As an example, G Adventures has what’s called the Ripple Score; you can see how much of your trip cost goes to the local community. Not ALL of their tours have a Ripple Score but most do….for instance I pulled up a random one for Peru and it has a Ripple Score of 99 (out of 100!).
Ok, so by now, I’m hoping you realize how important it is to travel.
The big hurdle for most of us is money…..you might be saying to yourself, “I don’t have X number of dollars for a vacation“. I hear you, and I get that….but let’s look at this a bit differently….
Let me insert a fun-fact here….did you know that the quick-service restaurant industry, worldwide, in 2019, was valued at approximately $875.26 BILLION U.S?!?!
So let’s say you eat out at a fast-food restaurant once a week….for a family of four, let’s put the cost of that meal at about $15 per person….times four people, that’s $60. If you take that $60 and multiply it by 52 (weeks in a year), that gives you $3,120.
Can you book a family of four vacation for $3,120? Sure you can. It won’t be fancy, but it’s doable.
Now, let’s say you go to (I can’t use the actual name here) S-bucks and get one of their lattes for example….that’s about $6/cup….and let’s say you go there just once a week as a treat to yourself….that’s $312/year on something that’s consumed within, say, a half hour.
Let’s take another example…..let’s say you’re a member of a big-box “club” store (again, I can’t use their real name here), and you go there once a month. I’d guess you’re going to spend about $400 (at least)….times 12 months….that’s $4,800/year.
So let’s pretend you CAN stop eating at fast-food restaurants, and you CAN NOT have that fancy latte once a week and you CAN shop at your local neighbourhood grocery store vs the club conglomerate, (which also means saving on gas)….you could potentially save over $8,200/year.
Can you book an awesome family-of-four holiday for $8,200? You betchya!
Those are just a few ways to save money for your next vacation….but in your case it could be something else….we all have our vices….
Like everything in life, it’s all about choices. We all have different priorities, and I am by no means suggesting that if a family is suffering tough financial pressures right now (as many are) that a vacation would solve all those problems, or that it would even be possible to get away with those large financial issues hanging over head….but then, instead of going out of the country, maybe go car-camping. Will it be comfortable? Probably not. Will it be fun? Possibly. Will it be memorable? Definitely.
And there you have it….5 reasons to travel….ASAP!
I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic, so please feel free to Comment in the section below.
Also….If you live in North America, and you’d like help planning and booking your next vacation, please contact me privately, I’ll be happy to work with you! Let’s get some of that bucket list taken care of, shall we?