Travel in the Time of Chaos

Without a doubt, we live in interesting times. Devastating wars. Global warming. Economic uncertainty. Pandemics. Threats to democracies, including our own.

The Chinese curse about “interesting times” has seldom rung truer. Then why is everyone traveling? Almost all of our friends have been posting recent travel adventures on Facebook and Instagram. Shouldn’t they should be at home, hiding under their beds with doors locked and alarms set?

And yet, according to travel industry data, the demand for leisure travel is undiminished, as proved by our globe-trotting friends. The question remains–why? 

Social media certainly has something to do with it. Posts are great motivators: “Honey, John, and Sally are having so much fun on that cruise to Spain. Maybe we should book a cruise out of Barcelona.” Yes, keeping up with the Joneses is still alive and well.

Plus, it’s easy to get addicted to traveling. It seems like our friends are taking more and longer trips. We certainly fall into that category. We spend nearly half the year traveling the world. We are drawn to the adventure and the almost spiritual lift we experience when we see art like the Mona Lisa, or the grandeur of the pyramids, or the awesome siting of a rare white rhino. Or the pleasure of discovering a stunning small town in Italy or listening to a pounding drum orchestra in Japan.

Yes, travel stimulates. When we hit the road, routine is out the window. Foreign languages, cultures, cuisines, and laws require a host of problem-solving responses and thinking on your feet. If Plan A is a bust, go to Plan B and many times you need a Plan C. Successfully dealing with these situations is satisfying and brings more than a little boost to the ego. BTW, if Plan C doesn’t work out, it most certainly will make for a great story for years to come. Travel crisis memories age well, becoming more elaborate and funny with time and repetition.  

And yes, travel can also be risky, especially in “interesting times.” Each trip presents different potential pitfalls. Who knew Europe would endure its hottest summer on record when we embarked on travel to Italy and Greece in July? Know your risk tolerance before you book. And know that regardless of how carefully you plan or how much you spend, stuff will happen. It always does. 

In our experience, travel makes you feel alive – and ultimately happy. Triggering all those endorphins and serotonin makes travel addictive in a good way. That’s our theory of why we – and so millions of others – are exploring the world during times of chaos and uncertainty. At least it’s better than hiding under the bed.

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