We all have our vices and no one likes going cold turkey. So when international borders abruptly closed, airports were reduced to eerie ghost towns, and global travel came to an unprecedented and grinding halt, travel addicts around the world lamented. Myself included.
Travel is a rare gift. It inspires us to explore the unknown, it motivates us to learn, it forces us to grow and it ignites our sense of adventure. Absence absolutely does make the heart grow fonder and many of us are realising just how crucial the freedom to travel is to our own personal sanity.
Dreaming of walking down the aisle?
So while the planes (and our souls) remain temporarily grounded, here are five ways you can help support the travel industry until it can safely resume with renewed vigour. And when that time finally comes, may we all travel more responsibly than ever, and reconnect deeply, not only with the places we’ve missed, but also with the people that make those places so special.
1. Make personal (virtual) connections
There is no shortage of African, Asian and South American-inspired content to keep us connected to that sorely-missed world of travel. Master some moreish recipes from around the world, sink into a gripping page-turner, dance to some global beats or cosy up for an insightful podcast.
Stay curious and connected with the natural world on twice-daily, three-hour live streaming safaris with our expert guides on WILDwatch Live. Didn’t get your questions answered? Not only can you book a private, post-safari Zoom session with a WILDwatch Live guide, but you can also have a pre-recorded WILDwatch Live safari fully interpreted by an expert guide who will delve deeper into each sighting. Not only does this help support guides while travel is on hold, it also helps fund much-needed conservation initiatives.
2. Relive your travel memories
Pour yourself a sundowner, take a trip down memory lane and delve into those old photographs. If you uncover some temporarily-forgotten &Beyond adventures, we’d love to see them — tag @andbeyondtravel and use #bateleurmagazine.
Now is also the perfect time to support your favourite lodges and hotels by writing those Trip Advisor and Google ratings/reviews. Share your stories and give a well-deserved shoutout to those people and properties that went above and beyond to make your past journeys unforgettable.
3. Perfect your plan
Just because you can’t travel doesn’t mean you can’t dream about it — and plan for it. Planning is half the fun; it feeds our insatiable curiosity and it gives us something to look forward to.
And important to note, while you dream, research and plan ahead, take the daily headlines you read with a grain of salt. We are living in uncertain times and not only do the facts change at a rapid pace, but sadly, there’s a lot of fake news to contend with. Rather speak to your preferred travel expert, who has a finger on the pulse in the destination you’re dreaming of.
Have faith. Travel will indeed resume, so keep feeding that voracious travel bug with captivating new inspiration until borders reopen and the planes (and our caged travel souls) can once again take to the skies.
4. Local is lekker
This is a common South African phrase, which suggests quite simply that things close to home are often the best. As lockdowns gradually ease and domestic travel starts to open up first, let’s all take this phrase to heart.
Get out there and be a (socially-distanced) tourist in your own town. Order takeaways from your favourite restaurants, hop on a local flight if you can, plan a roadtrip, book a weekend escape and support local suppliers wherever you can. The industry needs a boost and it starts in your own hometown. Be kind, be safe, and love local.
5. Give back
This global pandemic has had a devastating effect on the rural communities that rely heavily on tourism for their livelihood. Consider paying it forward to those who truly need it most by making a heartfelt donation to Africa Foundation’s COVID-19 initiative, which aims to help mitigate the dire health and economic impact of COVID-19.
Every donation, big or small, truly does help ease the burden for the many impacted communities.
Let us all be more conscious of the way we travel and of the way we treat each other, each and every day.