Four Things To Soothe The Travel Blues During The Pandemic
Updated: Aug 12, 2020
Self-isolating, quarantining or sheltering in place - what ever you call it, we are all suffering from a severe case of cabin fever right now. And while many of us are enjoying this slower pace of life - with more time to reflect on what's important and more time with our loved-ones - we're itching (and I do mean itching) to hop a flight to some far flung destination to escape the monotony of the four walls that we have been confined to for the last two months.
So whether you travel solo dolo, with your click or as a family, here are four things you can do while we all anxiously await being able to travel safely again.
1. Learn a foreign language
With social distancing the theme dujour, many of us are working remotely and need to find ways to be productive with all this new found time that we and our kids now have, especially with school now over.
In addition to providing brain-boosting cognitive skills such as enhanced problem solving, decision-making and the ability to better focus, learning a foreign language gives you and your children a competitive advantage that often leads to better career and academic options. That, coupled with having an appreciation and sense of cultural awareness should be reason enough to want to become a polyglot.
But if its not, then then you should also know that by speaking a few words in what ever region of the planet you happen to land in, you’re almost guaranteed to have a better experience than someone who shows up expecting “English” to be the norm in a foreign country. Don’t be that person. At the very least learn how to say – Hello, Please and Thank You and a few other everyday key phrases.
My daughter who is already conversant in French and has spent a couple summers on exchange in France, will spend an hour each day this summer enhancing her fluency via PrePly.com, a global platform providing affordable one-on-one private tutoring in several popular languages. Depending on which instructor and language you select, you can spend as little as $10 an hour. At five days a week, that's $50 well spent and perhaps some straight As when she returns to the classroom in the fall…(fingers crossed).
2. Explore & Learn Virtually
I’m a member of at least a dozen online travel groups and follow travel, food and culture pages almost exclusively on IG (find me at @SBPTRAVELZ) , and what I can say for sure is there is no shortage of pent up demand for travel, especially international travel no matter where in the world you are. Everyone keeps asking “Whats the first place you’re going after Rona?” or “When can we travel again?”
The short answer is no one knows. In the meantime, while we wait for borders to open up and safe flights to resume, we can spend our time virtually exploring and learning about the destinations – domestic and international – that are at the top of our bucket lists.
When I say learn about the culture, I don’t just mean go to tripadvisor.com or a Facebook Travel Group page to get a list of things to do, though both of them are useful resources. I mean really understand the culture by understanding the history of the place. That will give you clues about the people, their traditions, the language.
If possible, see who you know who knows someone who lives there. I’m a strong believer that travel is almost always better when you know someone who can give you a “locals experience” beyond all the tourist traps.
On a trip to South Africa some years ago, my b-school classmate and travel partner knew someone who had friends in Capetown. On a few days during our two weeks there, our new “friends” drove us around to sights I know we would not have seen by ourselves, including spending a day driving around the South African wine farms.
I remember we stopped for lunch at Le Petite Ferme in Franschoek. MANNNNNNN when I tell you that was a truly phenomenal experience. And it wasn’t just the 14 hour slow-roasted, super tender lamb that fell apart with ease (I’m not even into lamb like that), or even the amazing wines. Ok, perhaps it was the lamb and the wines, but that was topped off with absolutely some of THE most unforgettable views ever. That was then followed with a stop at Rust en Vrede tasting room in Stellenbosch for some amazing red blends.
That brings to me to my next point. Food!
3. Cook or Take Out Foods From the Places On Your List
There is a reason why you see people take pictures of their food whenever they travel or dine out. Its because the best way to anticipate or savor a destination is by eating the local cuisine. While we are on lock down and sheltering in place, I encourage you to use this time to do grab take out from restaurants that represent the international destinations you’re looking to travel to once things open up AND try your hand at pulling off some culinary creations yourself.
During this pandemic, Kerel Fryar , a fellow traveler and dad of two boys, virtually transports his family to their favorite places around the world through food. Most recently, they got "passport stamps" in Spain with garlic shrimp tapas, clams with white beans and sausage, fried eggplant, asparagus wrapped prosciutto, spanish wine and other delicacies.
Since we’ve been hunkered down at home, we’ve instituted “Take Out Tuesdays”. Not only does it support local businesses, but it also breaks up the monotony of cooking at home. So far we have “been to” the caribbean, with oxtail and curry chicken dinners and of course sorrel from Clifton’s Jamaican eatery here in Atlanta. And we have “relived” our time spent touring Asia during Christmas/New Years 2018 with a few visits to Jinya for great ramen.
4. Save for the Trip
So after you have salivated and fantasized over your dream destinations, it would only be logical that you actually plan and go…right?
So that brings me back to question above that everyone keeps asking….”when will it it be ok to travel again?” Again no one knows the exact answer but the industry predicts that cross-border travel will take a while to come back and is not expected to until sometime in 2021 when airports and airlines can provide passengers confidence that they have taken the necessary precautions to keep them safe.
While you wait, work on stashing away funds so when its time to go, lack of funds is not a deterrent. Anticipating a 2021 departure, estimate what the total cost of the trip will be based on the anticipated time you plan to spend there and the number of people traveling, factoring in air transport, accommodations, tours/excursions, food and incidentals…oh and DON’T forget about travel insurance. Divide that by the number of months between now and then and come up with what you can reasonably stash away. Follow that up with stalking the social media pages on your desired destinations and start visualizing yourself there. Hear the music, taste the food and imagine doing all the things on your list. Because if you can see in your mind, you can hold in your hand!
Stay safe and get ready. Travel is coming back!