My husband and I have had a fearless (some would say naive) approach to travel spending. When we get the chance or itch to travel, we go for it.

“If we don’t go now, when can we go again?”

“When will we have a break between work projects like this?”

“The kids are the perfect age for this trip.”

Those some of the justifications we’ve given ourselves. (Incidentally, we’ve also validated many friends’ trips for them. “No way, you totally have to book it!”)

Neither my husband nor I claim to be market analysts — still, we spotted a good value when the COVID pandemic hit. As I was struggling with our near-total income loss, my husband comforted me, “I’ll tell you what’s not losing value: our travel memories.”

He’s 100 percent right. 

Your Investment in Previous Travel Just Went Up 

The market might be down, but your travel memories are holding up well. They’ll always be the same as when you last visited them — especially the trips you took with a growing and aging family. Trips with teens and grandparents seem particularly important to me right now.

The World Travel and Tourism Council projects a global loss of 100 million jobs and $2.7 trillion in revenue. Domestically, the U.S. Travel Association predicts travel industry losses will outweigh any other sector and have an impact 9 times larger than 9/11. Those are just the earliest projections.

Enjoy Those Trips, Again — Right Now

Fellow travelers, we will get back to going places and supporting travel workers. It will be a slow climb with baby steps, but we’ll get there.

As for those past trips — they’re ours to keep. No one can take them from us. So, while we wait this out, and scrap together our re-adjusted lives, we should all enjoy travel from the past, for free.

  • Take an hour and edit down the photos from one trip on your phone. Throw them into an online album. (It doesn’t have to be perfect. Let go of perfection.) Or, let one of those handy apps turn your pics into a travel video, set to music.
  • Mirror your phone photos to the big screen and spend a movie night watching your last family trip. 
  • Make a shareable album of a trip spent with family or friends and share it with them (doubling your “return-on-investment”).
  • Better yet, let your teens take the lead and use their digital skills to make albums and videos.

A Season of Rest, Reflection and Travel List Making

Right now, I’m figuring out my career through a pandemic. I’m also trying to pause, write, cook, and relive the last season full of travel. 

Not long before COVID hit, we took a family trip to Kauai, Hawaii, for my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary. It was hard to get nine opinionated people I love to agree on arrangements, but we did it. 

We have never savored the memories of a trip more than that last one. As a pandemic puts priorities in order, I’m so grateful for the trip spent with my parents, my kids, and my brother’s family — all together. 

Experiencing things in any new environment (a campground, a lake, a new country or city) amplifies your memories. Travel imprints and wakes up your senses. Traveling with family to places outside your usual surroundings is an extra special recipe for bonding for all ages.

Don’t put off that getaway or reunion with your parents or extended family next year. Use some downtime to daydream: 

  • Where will you go when you can? Who will you travel with? Start a list. Brainstorm or research where you could meet. 
  • Make Top 10 lists of countries, national parks, and cities you want to see with your spouse, friends, or kids. 
  • Let the kids help plan the first place you road trip to (or family you want to visit) once we’re all cleared for overnight trips. 
  • Watch movies or TV series set in the places you’ve been (trust me on this one, it’s like seeing/smelling/tasting it all over again!)

Return on Investment in Memories & Experiences

While our family has spent thousands of dollars on travel that could have been best saved for — say — a bigger, more modern house, nicer cars, or (ahem) college funds. We didn’t. 

Still, our travel has always had an aura of “budget.” We schedule overseas trips for as long as we can reasonably afford and live cheap while away from home. We also road-trip around our Pacific Northwest home. We spend local travel dollars in favorite West Coast spots.

We’ve prioritized investment in family travel, and we’ll do it all again as soon as we can. Your wanderlust doesn’t have to be far-flung places. I’d give anything to hop in the car for a night of camping with the dog and kids on our favorite Central Oregon river.  

We can collectively spend this season enjoying our home nests — we’ll all be flying soon.