Have you been staring at your passport lately? Just pining and reminiscing and imagining the day when a fresh new stamp will grace its pages? Are you sitting there wondering what it will be like to travel with COVID tailing your every move?
Let’s be honest. We are all in uncharted waters right now. Travel businesses and travelers alike are navigating the situation with the best preparation and awareness they can. They are continually adapting to frequent updates and implementing new habits, procedures, and creative strategies on the daily.
It is a pretty unanimous opinion that travel will never stop. But for now, for the most part, it is in savasana. Chilling. Reflecting. Absorbing the energy around it. Thinking about how it will show up tomorrow.
Many of us are following suit. We are reflecting and we are waiting. The world is waiting! I like to think of our borders like a plant flowering in spring as they slowly open up again. Some are opening elegantly without hesitation, letting the whole world revel in their beauty. Others are a little harder to reach and a little more reluctant to show themselves. But the plant as a whole really is a beautiful thing, flaunting its different life cycles and moments in time. All it takes is a little patience to observe the transformation.
I am based in the Mediterranean and count myself lucky to have been able to travel relatively effortlessly as of late. So I am here to give you a little glimpse.
Over the last month, my experience has varied depending on what country I have been in. I started in Nice, France and flew to Paris. All passengers had to wear a mask to enter the airport and then a medical grade version to board the plane (airlines were giving them out to passengers who did not have them). On the plane, no middle seat was sold so social distancing was relatively straightforward and snacks were pre-prepared like cute little paper bag lunches. My next flight, Paris to Athens, followed suit with the addition of a temperature check before boarding. After a few days in Athens, I took a 5 hour ferry to Naxos. Same again. Face masks, hand sanitiser, social distancing, limited food options. No issues.
I ended up spending two weeks on this beautiful island (if you follow me on instagram, you know!) and even though I was quite remote, I did frequent the family restaurant under my villa on a daily basis. Servers wore masks and gloves, menus were accessed via QR codes and tables were spread out far and wide. It was actually really incredible to get to know the family. I learnt about their reality and how they were dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic and we discussed what I could do to support them.
From Naxos I was supposed to fly to Montenegro through Serbia, however, two days before I was scheduled to depart, Montenegro closed its border to Serbia and I had to get creative. I spent the entire morning staring at the live, virtual arrivals board on the Montenegro airport’s website and from there I figured out which flights were successfully landing and from which EU cities. Then I made my move, like a grand checkmate play on a chessboard. Long story short, I ended up spending a night in Poland and successfully entered Montenegro just one day later than originally planned.
All in all, my journey was great and throughout its entirety, I learned so much about humans and how they travel. I wanted to share my insights and reflect on how we can all be more empathetic, conscious travelers moving forward.
Moral Code for Being the Ultimate Traveler in 2020
1. Be kind
Everyone you interact with on your trip is doing their best during a really uncertain, stressful time so just be a nice person. The impact of your kindness will more often than not stretch really far.
2. Be understanding
Those companies you are doing business with would have had to implement a lot of health and safety protocols to be able to operate – ones that were most likely pricey and hastily implemented. Put yourself in their shoes and just go with their flow. They are doing all these things to be able to cater to you, their guests.
3. Be creative
If you don’t have much of a budget and cannot spend big, think of other ways you can support the businesses you interact with. Having you there is most likely playing a huge role in paying the bills and keeping their staff on payroll. The goal right now for a lot of these businesses is to increase exposure and show potential travelers that their experiences are up and running and are safe. Even something as simple as a share on social media will go a long way.
4. Be respectful
Everyone around you is dealing with this pandemic in their own way. Abide by the rules put in place and be respectful.
Blog post written by Greece Retreat 2019 Alumna Carolene Méli. Find her on her website: caromeli.com, or check out her writing portfolio here. Carolene is the author of Nomadic Musings, a creative writing column exclusively for Pangea Dreams!