In the years before March 2020, a holiday was a somewhat regular feature on the calendar—a trek, a spa getaway, a birdwatching trip, a yoga vacation to detox, visits to friends or family, anything was a reason for a break from the routine. There has been little change to the routine of our lives over the past 17 months, though there have been fundamental shifts in the way we live. Our habits have tended to harden and many of us have fallen into a sort of torpor that’s still productive routine—work, deadlines, chores; we are busy and engaged, yet not entirely there. Or as a primary school maths teacher would probably say, “physically present, mentally absent”.
Few things snap us out of such routines, cheer us up and prove as transformative as travel. Or, as Albert Camus wrote in his essay Love Of Life, “…what gives value to travel is fear. It breaks down a kind of inner structure we have.” Though most of us put a stop to travel during the pandemic months, not everyone has been staying home. Some have chosen to plan long road trips to smaller, less crowded destinations, taking care to follow protocols to avoid contracting or transmitting the virus.
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The writers of our cover story this week met those who have travelled throughout the months of the pandemic, choosing not to give up on the search for new experiences, and created new routines, and in some cases, even lives, for themselves on the road. These travellers planned more experiential, immersive journeys that allowed them to take it slow, connect more deeply with people and cultures, and truly relax. Some set themselves goals and challenges, others simply travelled for the sheer joy of discovery. These trips have been as much about satisfying the itch to travel as they have been about healing, or to borrow from Camus again, about “restor(ing) to every being and every object its miraculous value”. Maybe you will be inspired to hit the road too, fully vaccinated and wearing a mask, of course.
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