As I move closer to the New Year, I find myself thinking about my last New Year Eve and those dreamy travel plans that I was supposed to tick off from my list.
The plan to explore North Eastern states without a fixed itinerary; to go on more solo treks around Maharashtra; to participate in adventure sports by the sea... And many more which did not see the light of the day.
While 2020 showed professionals and students that operating from the comfort of their homes is (relatively) easier than we had thought it to be, it left travel enthusiasts, bloggers, and photographers like me rethinking their chosen paths.
From several travel plans getting cancelled to international destinations closing their borders without any plans to reopen soon, the travel industry was hit by a wave of uncertainty and dilemma that seemed to only increase with every passing month.
As much I wanted this year to go my way, it did not. However, it did stare right into my eyes and challenged me to explore opportunities that I would not have considered otherwise.
Here are some essential lessons that the traveller in me learnt in 2020:
We all know what a cancelled Goa plan or for that matter any travel plan feels like. But this year, the plans had to be cancelled for the good of all.
There was no other way the new virus in the world could have been dealt with. Initially, the cancelled trips did annoy me, but I accepted the fact that there was nothing I could do about it. Instead, I decided to be patient and waited for the situation to get better.
Journey Through Books
Just as a cold mountain breeze would accompany me during my expeditions in the north and a sea breeze during my journeys in the south, the rusty fragrance of novels became my favourite companions at home. From experiencing distinct village life in Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello to learning about Afghanistan’s kite race in Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, my books guided me to places, people, and stories anew.
Don't Cancel Family Time
When everything around was too overwhelming to process, the company of my closed ones felt like a comforting song. Whether it was playing a game of Ludo at an odd hour of the day or dancing to our favourite Punjabi hits of all time, the fun at home was incomparable. If it had not been for the lockdown, we would not have spent so much time together, and surely not have realised how much we need each other to sail through our tough days.
Keep Cooking Skills Handy
During the lockdown, my sister and I polished our cooking skills and tried experimenting with cuisine from different states. From steamed dhoklas to finger-licking butter chicken to 5-minute banana cakes, we made it all. Having basic cooking skills would not just save me from paying heavy restaurant bills during my travels but also give me confidence to go to places that do not necessarily serve my preferred type of food.
Go (really) Local
With lockdown restrictions loosening up, I started exploring some hidden points around my home. To my surprise, I found a local waterfall that lasts a few months in monsoon and a small trek that offers a spectacular cityscape from the top. Moreover, I went on weekend getaways to the nearest hill stations around Mumbai with my family and discovered some beautiful points that we might have missed before.
Apart from changing my outlook towards travelling, 2020 also taught me to recognise my responsibility in this world. Any kind of callous behaviour as travellers, like not wearing masks or following social distancing norms, can put not just ours but the lives of others in danger too. That holds true for not polluting a place you are visiting in any way (think plastics), or using natural resources responsibly.