Never before, at least not in this lifetime, have travellers had such incurably itchy feet. Finally (albeit gradually), borders are reopening, flights are resuming, neglected suitcases are being packed, and travellers are finally (re)satiating that overwhelming desire to leave home and explore the unknown.
Our fernweh is at an all-time high. As opposed to homesickness, fernweh, which literally means far-sickness (fern meaning far and weh meaning pain), is an ache or longing for distant places and an insatiable craving for travel. An affliction we can all relate to right now.
As each country starts to ease restrictions, travellers are rushing out to feed their fernweh, reclaim their post-lockdown freedom and get lost in the enchanting, uplifting and sorely missed world of travel.
Undecided on where to go or what to do? Here are 10 ways for travellers to reclaim their time and recharge those depleted soul batteries.
1. Get back to nature
The world is a playground and outdoor lovers can finally get back out and explore Mother Nature’s inimitable canvas. From panoramic mountain vistas, remote tropical islands and timeless deserts, to verdant jungles, mist-shrouded rainforests and the iconic African bushveld, each evocative landscape is food for the travel-deprived soul. Soak up the sunshine, inhale the fresh air, embrace the wide open spaces and re-appreciate the intoxicating beauty of natural world.
3. Cast away on a remote island
There’s no denying the complete personal reboot, both physical and mental, that comes with a relaxing, warm and tropical island holiday. Those non-stop rays of glorious sunshine, iconic palm trees, gentle turquoise waves, refreshing beach cocktails, fresh seafood and lazy afternoon siestas gently lull overworked and technology-overloaded minds and bodies back to a slower, much healthier rhythm.
Following the ever-present hardships, stresses and uncertainty of lockdown life, many travellers are now gleefully pressing the pause button on life and opting for an unhurried island escape, with the perfect balance of postcard-perfect scenery, unapologetic romance and guilt-free idleness.
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4. Take a solo adventure
Travellers take note: solo travel is not just for single people and it is far from lonely. As liberating as it is soulful and enriching, there’s no surprise that solo travel is on the rise as we navigate our way through pandemic life. Travelling alone offers freedom and flexibility, solitude and spontaneity, and privacy and purpose. There’s no such thing as an adventure ill-suited for one. Make your own decisions, create your own schedules and indulge in some guilt-free alone time.
6. Go underwater
When life above the water starts to weigh the soul down, the kaleidoscopic underwater world is alive with psychedelic colour and deeply satisfying silence. Escape the demands and dramas of the modern world, and find peace and solitude beneath the waves.
7. Slow down
Pandemic life has been one long and gruelling test of endurance. Among the countless lessons it has taught us is that of slowing down. Slowing down to keep anxiety at bay; slowing down to be a better human; slowing down to re-appreciate each other (and ourselves); slowing down to count our blessings; and slowing down to see the world afresh with new eyes.
6 places to linger longer
Week-long slow travel itineraries
8. Give back
The past year has reminded us, quite abruptly, of the destructive effect our daily actions have on the environment and, hopefully, it will force a global shift in the way we treat the earth. Responsible travellers are seeking more sustainable ways to travel and give back to the land, wildlife and people of the destinations they visit. From community visits to conservation activities, such as rhino dehorning, elephant collaring, pangolin tagging, to name a few, concerned travellers can learn, participate and give back.
Pangolin image © Peter Chadwick
Elephant image © Howard Cleland
9. Learn a new skill
Travel is our greatest teacher. It opens our eyes to different cultures, it teaches us humility and it expands both our horizons and our hearts. As the world reopens, many travellers are igniting their passions and learning new skills while they are abroad.
Learn the ancient art of tracking wildlife and the modern art of photographing them, or try your hand at cooking with a destination’s local flavours or simply gaze up at the stars and dream. Not all classrooms have four walls and travel will leave you wanting to learn, and experience, even more.
SEE WHAT LIES BEYOND
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