Loving Travel in Times of Fear

Loving Travel in Times of Fear

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about whether our international family megatrip will be canceled due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. And of course the question of how upset we are about it is heavily implied.

The answer is yes, maybe it will get cancelled. It’s still a long way out, so there’s also a distinct possibility nothing will change for us. But if the airlines or governments nix our mode of transportation, there’s not much we can do.

Here’s the thing: If this is trip doesn’t happen, it won’t be the first time we’ve had a trip disrupted or cancelled. It won’t be the last. And we’re fine with that.

If you’ve read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you can tell we’re channeling the Circle of Control concept pretty hard here, as usual. If you haven’t read it, start today.

“But this is different!” they say.

Maybe.

I remember 9-11, after which many people told me travel wasn’t safe. Same with the terrorist attacks on Paris in 2015. And London in 2017. I remember tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and volcano eruptions that paralyzed many peoples’ travel plans if not worse. You probably remember those too.

And of course we all remember past disease outbreaks (and are aware of ongoing disease issues) and their effect on travel. The H1N1 pandemic was horrific. The current flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst in recent history. Look up the numbers on both of those outbreaks if you need some perspective on how truly devastating they were and are. And yet they’re barely a blip on our radar when we make our travel plans.

Like many world travelers, I’ve bribed my kid with ice cream to get his yellow fever vaccine, and I’ve had the bizarre dreams that come with malaria medication (along with two good friends who contracted malaria despite said meds). I’ve treated patients with AIDS and I’ve treated patients with MRSA. I was told during the Zika crisis that going to South America would cause me to become sterile.

I don’t take any of this lightly, and I understand that all of the above issues – including Covid19 – have caused intense suffering and loss for many people. I also have no delusions that I am exempt from these sorts of misfortunes. They come for all of us sooner or later.

My point is not that these issues aren’t real and devastating and in need of intelligent solutions, nor is my goal to minimize the current situation. It’s that these sorts of problems never go away. Someday the Covid-19 crisis will be over, and then there will be something else. Another disease. Another attack. Another economic collapse. There are always reasons to be afraid.

“But this is different!” they say.

Maybe.

I don’t know for sure how it’s going to shake out. No one does. And, yes, the travel restrictions and closures and quarantines that are in place certainly feel different.

But fear won’t help us. So we adjust where we need to. We make informed and smart decisions, but we let go of things beyond our control. We get our information from the experts, not from internet sites churning out fear-mongering clickbait. And we keep traveling when and how we can.

If there is a real, verified reason to not get on a plane then we won’t travel by plane. If a trip has to be cancelled, we’ll figure out something else to do with that time. If our health needs (or those of a loved one) change, we’ll modify our plans.

This is life. Sometimes it’s as easy as buying a train ticket and eating the cost of that cancelled flight. Sometimes it’s puking in your hotel room for 3 days instead of getting to see any of the local sites. Sometimes it’s being at a funeral instead of on the trip you planned. I’ve been in all of those situations.

And now our longest and most planning-intensive trip of the last 10 years stands to get cancelled, and we could lose hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on how benevolent the airlines are about refunds. Our feelings? Oh well. It’s a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.

Of course we’d be disappointed to miss seeing all the friends and family we were supposed to see on that trip. But we’ll see them the next time around, and they’ll be fine without us.

Our biggest responsibility is to each other and to our kids. This means we still spend that time as a family, and we still make great memories together – whatever challenges we have to master to do that. Most importantly, we don’t freak out in such a way that it triggers stress and fear in our children.

If this trip gets cancelled, we’ll be taking the kids and road-tripping through the unsurpassed beauty of the American West for 3 weeks. If for some reason we can’t do that, you’ll find us camping, hiking, and biking in the epic terrain of the Colorado Plateau, which we are lucky enough to call home.

Our love of travel isn’t about how cool we feel flying through the sky or sailing across the ocean. It isn’t about checking countries off our list, getting stamps in our passports, or taking selfies in front of impressive things. I enjoy all of those activities, but I don’t think that’s what travel is about for any of us. Not really.

It’s about a love of adventure. It’s about seeking out the unknown (cue that Frozen II song that my toddler keeps requesting). It’s about challenging our physical and mental capacities, expanding our comfort zones, and spending time with others. All of which, incidentally, can be done not far from where we are now. No fancy international ticket required.

4 Replies to “Loving Travel in Times of Fear”

    1. Thanks Gina! Honored to have you reading, and so glad you enjoyed this post. It’s a topic very close to my heart. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Sue! I know you share my love of travel. 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you when this is all over!

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