As a Wanderess Host™ who travels for a living and tries to inspire others to fall in love with their world, I know how crushed people are about the travel bans and disruptions the Coronavirus has caused. If we can set aside the heartache and fear that we feel for ourselves and for people around the world, and instead shift our attention to the horizon for a bit, perhaps we can take our mind off things.  Right about now, it feels like we will never step foot on a plane again. But if you can turn your discouragement and defeat into a meaningful pool of reflection, you’ll be ready to travel when self-imposed and worldwide borders are lifted. Let’s keep our trip anticipation alive—the prelude to the journey is, after all, as important as the journey itself.

You needn’t be relegated to the life of an armchair traveler. Our world will reemerge healed and stronger than ever. The pause will help you emotionally prepare for the next journey. And what a treasure it will be, for we will never look at travel the same way again.  Here’s how to use this grey period in a creative and dreamy way. 

 Eight things to do during the pause:

1.   Find Your Inner Pencil

Why were you going on a trip in the first place? What longing or void was the trip satisfying? A sense of adventure? A well-deserved respite from work and problems? To celebrate a milestone event? An ancestral trip? A wellness trip? Figure out the lure to the destination. Write down all the reasons why you are disappointed about the trip not moving forward. By getting them on paper, you will see why you chose to go on the trip in the first place, and you’ll uncover the lure of the destination. And if journaling feels like a chore, try a recording app on your phone.

2.   Make a Family Tree

Using your pencil again, it’s arts and crafts time. Fill in the branches with family names going back as far as you can, and then see if a component of your deferred trip relates to your lineage or ancestry: a particular relative, a colorful childhood memory, a destination. Again, deepen your insight into and unearth the lure of the trip. The lesson is in the lure. 

3.   Root Out Fears

Was anything keeping you up at night about your impending trip? What were your concerns? Can you be curious about them now that you have time, and then try to soothe and surmount them by preparing in advance? For example, if you’re worried about landing in Japan and not being able to navigate the Shinkansen system, can you study the system now that you have time and make your own mini station map? Afraid of going alone? Maybe solo travel isn’t your thing after all and you can research a travel companion or a small group? 

4.   Be the Gift

I believe that we can be a gift to other cultures when we travel, as much as their cultures are a gift to us. The notion of the Ugly American only exists if behave like an ugly American.

Think about how you will comport yourself in another country. It begins with the basics—respecting the local norms and traditions—but there’s more than meets the eye. Even tiny actions that seem inconsequential can broadcast a favorable message about where you’re from, your culture, and the things you love about where you live. While interacting with strangers, always be kind and curious. You’ll often receive a gift in return. I have been invited into the home of strangers for tea and treated to pictures of their ancestors and religious ceremonies. While we can’t immediately reciprocate in kind, we can extend other subtle behaviors which may engender respect and curiosity. Politics aside, I always like to represent the best of America when I travel, whether it be in a brief verbal exchange or how I conduct myself in a restaurant, on the street, on public transportation. List the ways in which you can present the best version of yourself.

5.   Bring a Gift

I support a non-profit called Pack For A Purpose, which encourages you to make a tiny space in your suitcase so you can bring much-needed supplies to support worldwide community projects. Think about, research, and list other ways that you can contribute to the local economy (it doesn’t always mean bringing something or buying something).

6.   Clear Cultural Clutter

Do you have any sediment in your mind when you think about a certain culture? Be honest with yourself. We often unwittingly gather preconceived notions about other cultures, not all favorable, and we certainly don’t want them to mar our travel experiences. Notice them before you go. Try to approach where you’re going with an open mind, and eliminate any outdated ideas you might have about that place and its people. For example, are you favoring someone who is always in splendid attire versus another who might be poor? Root this out and let it go because it won’t serve you on your journey.

7.   Expand Your Territory

When social distancing becomes a thing of the past, think about ways you can close the gap between yourself and others—try to expand your appreciation of people who are different, and make your relationship to them stronger than ever. Try something new, something you never would have done before this dreadful period. It could be as simple as learning a different language or reading about a religion other than your own.  

8.    Consider a Castle

Why not disconnect for a couple of hours? Either alone, with kids, or with whomever you were supposed to travel. Find an old-world map or print one out and study the country you are pining for. Plot all of the things you want to do on the map. In this way, we connect with that place and its people spiritually and deepen our anticipation and understanding of the flow of the trip. The old-fashioned way! You might just find that you don’t even need your phone to navigate when you get there.

photoJoanne K. Socha, Your Wanderess Host™
Joanne Socha is a Lawyer-turned-Luxury Travel Advisor, Author of The Red Bandanna Travel Book:  The Medicine of Traveling; Your Wanderess Host™ and Coach. Currently she is praying for a healed world without borders, waiting for the next trip around the globe to share information about mindful travel.
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