It’s not quite time to head to Europe on your dream vacation, but with vaccinations increasing and some international borders opening up, I think it’s safe to at least dream again. In fact, I think it’s necessary to dream again.
Perhaps one of the hardest aspects of the past year for me was the feeling like I couldn’t dream about the future, because no plans could be made. As an act of hope, I recently planned a trip for spring of 2022. Here are a few reasons I decided it was time to think about traveling again.
1 — I don’t know about you, but just having something on the calendar to look forward to and work toward gives me the motivation I need to keep plugging away while things are still uncertain. It wouldn’t matter if I was planning a trip three or four years down the road — having concrete plans in the future makes me feel like I am on solid ground again with a direction to walk.
2 — Travel reminds me I am human, and so are people across the ocean. After a year of exceptional division and polarization, I just want to be reminded of our common humanity in the all-encompassing way that travel so often provides. I know this can be done here in the U.S., but there is something powerful about connecting with people who are significantly more different than us culturally and politically. It helps me to see how much I actually have in common with fellow Americans whom I disagree with, and how much we need each other.
3 — One thing quarantine taught me is the importance of beauty. A pretty painting, singing birds, a colorful and well-made meal — they all speak of something greater than myself, and that’s a feeling I want to constantly seek out. I want to marvel.
While I think I live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world (the Appalachian Mountains), there are different kinds of beauty. There is a unique beauty to the warmth of the Irish people when I have visited that island. There is a dramatic beauty to the Andes mountains that are so much higher than my own highlands. There is beauty to the colorful, bustling markets of Bangkok. Beauty has no limits, and I want to soak in as much as possible in my lifetime.
4 — I don’t want to take the time I have for granted anymore. How could I after the past year? I won’t assume I will get there “one day.” If I am able, I am going. To make this happen, travel will have to become more of a priority in terms of financial planning and time. It might require being extra flexible at times because of changing travel restrictions. It will require overcoming (within reason and responsibly) the fear of the unknown.
5 — I want to make memories with the people I love and haven’t been able to spend as much time with this past year. I want to make memories with new friends I haven’t met yet.
My husband had never been to Europe before our trip to Ireland and Scotland for our honeymoon. Seeing his mind and heart open up to possibilities and ideas he had never considered before was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life — and his.
You can live a full life without traveling, but it is one of the best additions to a full life I know of. Spending time in new places and cultures widens our horizons — it reminds us that we’re part of a bigger family, that our concerns are part of the human condition, that we have so much in common with people — even when their way of life is different from ours.
And the best part of travel is, of course, coming home — and seeing it anew as a place of rest and belonging.