Travelling for me has always been a balm for the soul and necessary for my wellbeing. It is also a freedom and privilege I have definitely taken for granted at times. The pandemic was both a test and a gift in that I was forced to re-evaluate my identity with and attachment to travel; as a result, I have connected much more deeply to my immediate surroundings and exploration within my local community. This is something I often failed to value in the past, feeling the need to escape to a far corner of the world to seek the inspiration and lessons gleaned from travel.
I am prone to restlessness and it can be hard for me to embrace long-term routines. What I learned during the global lockdowns is that embracing stillness can be incredibly grounding. While I will never be one to let go of novelty, I have enjoyed establishing ritualized activities that provide me with a reliable comfort I have come to love. Here are some of the most meaningful practices that I have embraced in the absence of worldwide travel:
- Getting to know local hiking routes more intimately through repeat visits
Travel usually involves seeing a wide variety of locations and having new adventures each day- this is part of the draw and what makes it so exciting. However, exploring familiar places more frequently allows me to slow down, take my time and settle into the experience. I notice details I would have otherwise missed and feel a greater sense of stewardship, belonging and sense of place. Taking side trails or finding secret spots to sit undisturbed keeps the spirit of adventure alive. I treasure the deeper appreciation of my local environment that is fostered while taking in the subtle ebbs and flows of the landscapes.
- Designating a calendar for weekly, monthly and annual outings to look forward to
Planning adventures close to home can bring the exact same thrill and anticipation as planning travel abroad. I have always enjoyed this aspect of travel; the process of researching new things to see and do puts me in a complete flow state. I now try to replicate this same experience with local getaways and day trips which are marked on a calendar hanging in my home. Scheduling a date and putting an event in writing adds an element of anticipation and excitement. The destinations may not be as far-flung, but the joy is the same. Seek out the elements you are drawn to in a travel destination in your current environment. For me, this includes being near the ocean, coastal beaches and mountains, or visiting new cafes, craft breweries or wineries.
- Rediscovering the pure delight of reading for pleasure
During the pandemic, I became reacquainted with the nostalgic beauty and child-like joy of libraries. My dad is a huge fan of libraries and has been visiting them for years to browse and take out books. I always found this endearing but somehow ‘old-fashioned’ of him; I now completely retract this thought. Since signing up with the local library, I am reading more than ever- spending days off or cozy evenings immersed in breathtaking fiction novels or learning about topics that interest me for the pure enjoyment of it. Nothing to be accomplished but to simply revel in the slow peace that page-turning can bring. Books with a theme of travel have been particularly healing for me during extended periods of time spent at home.
- Valuing the beauty and lessons of each season
Living in alignment with the seasons and their unique rhythms has become an important aspect of my lifestyle since moving to the west coast of Canada. Historically, when I had a far-away trip planned, whole seasons could go by in a blink while I anticipated my departure; I simply wanted to fast-forward to my next travel adventure or getaway. Being rooted in one place for an extended period of time has allowed me to be more fully present with the changes taking place in the natural world each month. Spring has been an especially uplifting time for me with colourful blossoms perfuming the air, leaves velvety to the touch in their newness and ferns unfurling in spirals laced with gold- holding a promise of growth and renewal.
- Continuing to daydream of future travel
Part of the excitement of any trip for me is the initial idea and dreaming of it. Knowing that I will resume world travel at some point is enough to keep this fire alive within me. I have continued to follow travel blogs, read travel-themed magazines/books and watch movies or shows that are set in a destination I love. This helps to inspire ideas for future getaways, nourishes my spirit and keeps me from feeling stagnant. Spending so much more time being ‘still’ these past couple of years has allowed for recurring moments of creative planning and focused attention on my true values and desires.
Did you establish any new rituals while exploring more of your city or region during the pandemic? Do you feel impatient or inspired from spending so much time in a familiar environment?