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The Surprising Way Covid-19 Has Shifted My Mindset Around Travel

We can't travel, but there is something we can do...
The Surprising Way Covid-19 Has Shifted My Mindset Around Travel
Jacqueline Parisi

Hi, fellow Journy’ers

I’m writing to you from my kitchen table, where I’ve been sitting for the past week or so in one of three rotating pairs of high school sweatpants. Staying put. Social distancing. FaceTiming with friends. Washing my hands like I mean it. Then slathering on the lotion because they get so dry. (Anyone else relate to that last one? Just me? K, cool.)

As someone whose job it is to wake up every day and write about travel and restaurants, I’ve been grappling with how to move forward in these uncertain times. Because sure, I could keep writing new articles in the hopes that you’ll store the inspiration away for later. But it still feels, well, weird.

And yet here we are. Forces beyond anyone’s control have relegated us to the confines of our homes for the foreseeable future. We’re all slowing down and existing in the stillness, solidarity, and anxiety of social distancing.

And for those of us who live for the heart-pumping, awe-inspiring, pinch-me-this-can’t-be-real experiences of travel, this new confining reality can come as an abrupt, frustrating affront to our former ways of moving and existing in this world.  

If you or I choose to think this way, that’s understandable. No one would blame us for it. But because it’s arguably our default setting as human beings, it’s not a choice.

What IS still in our control, however, is the agency to think differently. To remember that travel isn’t only defined in the literal sense by a physical shift from one country or city to another, but also a mindset shift.

This is something that I, myself, was reminded of as I re-read the last journal entry from my post-grad year spent teaching English in France…

May 5, 2016
“For the first few days, weeks even, I was propelled by the novelty of it all. It was so exciting to be here in France, but I still yearned for the day when it would feel “normal.” I was itching to get into a routine, to feel like I lived here.
And the ironic thing about it all was that my decision to come to France, I’ve realized, was propelled just as much by a sense of adventure as it was by a fear of the claustrophobia of normalcy. But once the novelty wore off, what was left was, well, life. And it was NORMAL.
I worked, read, slept, grocery shopped, laughed, cooked, cried, ran, and wondered. The only difference was that I was doing it in a different country, surrounded by different people and customs and ways of seeing the world. And I realize now that the mundane began to mean something more because I was paying closer attention. So maybe that’s the magic of travel? I managed to find the large in the small and THAT, more than anything, is what I want to promise myself I will continue doing when I return home to New York.”

Just because we aren’t traveling in the traditional sense doesn’t mean we have to lose the spirit of travel that lights our imaginations on fire, and that keeps us marveling at the world. It doesn’t mean we can’t exercise the art of really, truly paying attention—to the sounds, sights, and smells of our own backyards. To the way the light streams through our windows in the late afternoon in a way we were never home to see it before. Or how our refrigerators hum throughout the day. To our family, our friends, our dogs.

Maybe you don’t buy it—and that’s okay. I’d be lying if I said this mindset was easy, or a perfect 1-1 substitute for travel. Far from it. But what I do know is that it’s the only option we have right now. It’s how I am consciously choosing to think—and I sincerely hope that you’ll join me.

Oh—and if you're wondering what to expect over the next few weeks from Journy, I can tell you that it'll be a mix of practical information (such as continued updates on travel bans and airline policies in our official corona virus piece) and more light-hearted content (like articles on the best outdoor adventures to "social distance" without getting bored and travel-themed quizzes and crossword puzzles to kick-start game night). And yes, there will still be the occasional, seemingly "business-as-usual" piece (like this week's roundup of the best tacos in Mexico City). Because the day will come when travel as we know it in the literal sense will return with a vengeance. And we want to make sure you're well-equipped with all of the inspiration you need when it does.

And who knows? Maybe this exercise in the art of paying attention will make travel even more rewarding when it returns. After all, doesn't distance make the heart grow fonder?

Sending love from six feet away,
Jacqueline Parisi
Senior Manager, Content

Beaugency, France
21 March 2020
3 min read

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