How has COVID impacted travel?

With our birthdays being two weeks apart and NSW managing COVID well, Jack and I went on two mini-breaks during the end of term break. The first was to Chateau Elan in The Hunter Valley and the second was at The Wildlife Retreat at Taronga Zoo.

Let me start by saying that we know how lucky we are to be able to go away, especially during COVID times. That gratitude was at the forefront of our minds the entire time.

Secondly, I have to say that these these trips were AMAZING. Both were just the kind of indulgent, relaxing break that we needed. I cannot recommend either place enough, but this post isn’t about winery recommendations or how cute koalas are (the answer to that is VERY CUTE, of course). It is about how COVID has impacted travel.

Everywhere we went to handled everything so well. That is a HUGE accomplishment. Entire business models have had to be reshaped, people’s livelihoods have taken a massive hit and what was the ‘norm’ is now a memory, yet you’d have never known that. Everywhere we stayed and visited has adapted so well, The Wildlife Retreat especially. We had a dining experience and private tours, all of which were booked in at allotted times and with small groups. Social distancing was enforced, sanitising stations were everywhere and staff were nothing but helpful. To any hospitality business running in these tough times, all I can say is I salute you. You are doing a wonderful job.

Of course, it’s not just businesses that have had to change how they view travelling, but travellers, too.

I will never be the most well travelled person on the planet, but I have done my fair share of exploring. I have moved to the other side of the world. I’d call travel one of my hobbies. Often I would get home from one trip and be planning the next, it’s just the way I liked to live.

One of the things that really stood out to me when travelling in COVID times is the total lack of spontaneity allowed. Meals have to be booked in advance, schedules adhered to and visitors counted in and out. When we were in The Hunter Valley, we were going to visit the gardens, but when we got there we discovered that they were at full capacity. Planning ahead and thinking beforehand that it could reach capacity never crossed my mind, but that’s just the way things are now.

As someone who uses her holiday time to kind of ‘go with the flow’ and float around, this new mindset was a little strange to adopt. However, in the end it was actually quite nice to plan our days and know what you were doing. It felt like we made the most of every minute we had.

For me though, the main thing that COVID has impacted is my mindset. Travel before was something I kind of took for granted. While I worked hard to save for the trips I went on and always knew that I was fortunate to be able to visit different places, going away was also something that was ‘normal’ for me. I kind of expected to be able to do what I want and go where I wanted.

COVID has shown that travel is a privilege. If you are able to visit new countries then you are incredibly lucky, there is no other way to look at it.

I still have a bucket list of places I want to visit and I am still hoping to tick them off one day, COVID permitting, but I know how I look at travel has changed. It is not something I will take for granted again. In the modern world where everything and everyone is so connected, it’s easy to forget how lucky you are, but I hope that this gratitude is one thing we take away from COVID.

After all, there has to be a silver lining to this chaos, right?

For more Aussie life and writing updates, why not follow me on Instagram at @jesskitchingwrites?

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