What about Travel?

transiting the Panama Canal

It is almost nine years ago since I retired from full-time teaching. I still enjoyed my career but I felt that it was time for a change. I believe that travel provides us with opportunities to try "different lives" and to extend our learning experiences. I could not have imagined the adventures that those nine years would bring.

an autumn train trip in New Hampshire

I have travelled solo and with friends and family. I have studied languages, art and cooking. I have hiked and volunteered in schools and libraries. I have met my relatives in Shetland and librarians in Mexico. I've learned a lot about myself and about my relationships with travelling companions.

on the Camino de Santiago

Unfortunately, there is a cost to travel that exceeds the price of a ticket. Planes, cruise ships, trains and buses have contributed to our environmental crisis. Hotel room attendants, airline catering staff, restaurant servers and cruise ship workers frequently receive poor wages.  Short term rentals (Airbnb and VRBO) have removed affordable long term rentals from the housing market.

Kennedy Space Centre

I doubt that  I shall travel internationally in 2020. The future is uncertain. Scientists are unable to determine whether there is immunity to the  Covid-19 virus or if there will be subsequent waves in the fall or winter. Development and testing of a vaccine will take time. Airlines will be compelled to fly with fewer passengers so fares will increase correspondingly. After the horror stories of stateroom quarantines on cruise ships that were denied entry into ports, I would hesitate to book a lengthy cruise in the foreseeable future. Our local service and hospitality workers will need our financial support.

How will travel in the future look? What have we learned from the pandemic experience? Poorly paid workers in care homes and in food processing plants are bearing the responsibility for our vulnerable aged and for our food supply. Should the cost of travel be borne by those who clean our rooms or prepare our meals? Can we ignore the carbon footprint of our global meanderings? 

Personally, I want to travel again. I want to visit my Shetland relatives and my Oaxacan friends. I want to visit Paris in December and to see the store windows. Will those store windows be dressed so beautifully in a post-pandemic world? I still want to see new places and to revisit my favourite places.

I sound a bit like a child who wants all the candy but not the tummy ache. Perhaps, there is something else that we might learn from our current state of social distancing, staying at home, quarantine or whatever we choose to call it. Perhaps, we can find joy in the chickadees who come for seed every day or the books that we can not put down or in learning one new recipe a week. Perhaps, there will be a new movement towards community, contentment, gratitude and kindness. Let's hope.


  1. Yes, I have been thinking along similar lines here. The situation is complicated for us because our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter live in Italy, and I can't imagine renouncing visits to see them. Acknowledging the cost to the environment, I try otherwise to keep my footprint low. . . As well, we have been thinking anyway about doing longer stays, perhaps less often. . . Meanwhile, as you suggest, we are doing our best to appreciate and cultivate and nourish our environment right here. . .

    1. It would be so difficult to miss those visits to Italy. I think staying longer Europe could be the answer. You could have family time, discover a new area time, and time to revisit the favourite French places and people. The earlier photos that I have been posting on Instagram were from trips that lasted 3-6 months. Like you, I keep my carbon footprint very low here, walking to perform most errands. I guess we are being obliged to live in the here and now and to accept the uncertainty of the future.


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