I need to tell you that before the Coronavirus Pandemic hit the world and my country, Brazil, I had an intense travel routine. And a proud one.
In the last few years, my annual average was 5 to 6 small trips (from 2 to 5 days to any national destination, and 2 long international trips (at least 10 days each).
Yes I do this with my earned money and not inherited. Yes, I am not ashamed and should not be ashamed. My income is only for me, I have no children, by choice and fate. I saved a lot and worked hard until I was 40, and today I have a happy microentrepreneur routine that works remotely at times, with some eventual longer project or a dream of opening a business again.
Surrounded by many tips, several travel sites and blogs and some other people’s envy that does not do well, I traveled a lot in these years. It looks and is honestly a travel blogger routine. I sewed one trip to the other, looking for a controlled budget.
With all this pandemic, I was forced to confine myself, and I don’t complain. For real. I can be quiet in my house and I will honor all my bills, which I confess, have been greatly reduced with the quarantine. I am really sad and upset because of my medical friends who are forced to isolate themselves from their family in order to do their work, and not even be recognized as they deserve.
I am sad for people who cannot isolate themselves, because they need to pay the monthly bills and put food on the family table.
Well, there is plenty of time to reflect on our way of living and contributing to the world. In fact, a lot of time, especially for those who do not have children or pets (I admit: I have neither a cactus nor a tamagochi to stay home. It is me, myself and the food flies that proliferate as pests). I thought about the theme of travel: people I know usually ask me if I’m not going crazy because I can’t travel yet. I canceled 2 small trips for obvious reasons (with poor service and resolution from Latam and the biggest hotel in Boipeba), but anyway, the laundry will be washed in another more opportune text. To tell the truth, no. Is it necessary? Yes. But close to the tragedies that CoronaVirus spread throughout the world, I didn’t even stop to think of it as a big loss. I think how we make travel some thing of commodity. Think with me. What should be and is a miracle of the human being, a feat to be celebrated and dreamed of, has become a common place, and above all, an extra motivation to fill the Instagram feed. Some 25 years ago, when there was no large-scale internet, we traveled, but mainly in expectation and dreams. We bought the travel magazines monthly and were delighted with the stories of destinations, which some of us wanted, others just aroused our curiosity. How I liked to read the travel diaries, and very well written. And we made plans. A trip was expensive, very expensive. For those who have traveled from Varig and Vasp with me (extint flight brazilian companies), you know that in our time (80s, 90s) it was different. There was a glamor about going to the airport. The meals on the planes were complete, regardless of whether it was an 50 minute flight to Rio or a 10-hour trip to Paris. Everything required strict planning: there was no Booking.com to have the various hotel options. We were in the hands of agencies like Dimensão, Soletur, Agaxtur. There was no email or whatsapp contact from the hotel manager.
Buy dollar and euro? Many months in advance, with few banks available. So there was at most 1 international trip per year, and about 2 national ones. This is from an upper middle class family. It had all the charm of the pre-trip – to buy clothes to compose the costumes, to pick up tips from those who have already gone, to search in encyclopedias and magazines about the destination. And yes, to tighten your belt because there was an huge amount of money in it. And the charm of the printing the photos that were a total mystery in the 36 poses of Kodak, telling friends, buying a souvenir to call your own, not least because you didn’t have Facebook or Instagram to display. I remember all these pre-internet trips, all the sensations of seeing an airport for the first time, the clutter with the wrong language and paths and not so trustful taxi drivers. How is it today? Improved? Easier? No doubt. But… In 30 minutes, we can close a trip. Buy the ticket on the website, book the hotel online, watch the videos on youtube, search on Google and voilá! We know the basic language words, we know the local time, we know which neighborhoods to avoid, we know the most unpleasant foods and catch phrases from YouTubers. Zero Suprises. For good or for bad. We get drunk the day before and will travel with a hangover. Then it stays on the first day like a zombie, attempting only to feed the Instagram feed. We pack on same day we travel, not much before because it seems cheesy to admit that she has prepared for the trip. Quite stupid, right? It´s cool, “I have a thousand more important things to do”. During the trip, that agony and despair of trying to tick all the unmissable places recommended by influencers. And on the way back, the basic purchases from H&M and Uniqlo that you don’t have in Brazil, because it was cheesy to buy travel souvenirs.You know that story of someone who is crazy about chocolate and at Easter eats all that chocolate and then doesn’t want to see the sweet for 1 year? Amazingly, it happens with travel. It is a sin to trivialize and pasteurize this activity that should be unique, memorable. Try going 2X to the Airport in the month. The charm is over, the Instagram feed remains. It seems wrong to me today, more than ever, to tick all the destinations in the world because life is one. It seems wrong to go to New York 5 times in 2 years (as I already did, let’s be honest) because ok, we could. It seems very, very, very wrong to go to a mega resort in destinations previously considered untouched, knowing that they will one day destroy local culture and nature (see the immense hotel complex that will destroy Boipeba just as they did with Itaparica. Club Med disappeared and a polluted and crime-ridden village remained). Not to mention the polar bear that was slaughtered in 2018 to protect the wealthy tourists from a German cruise company. And what the hell were they doing there? When the pandemic is over, I will certainly want to travel. Maybe a little less. Maybe stop visiting places that are beautiful on Instagram but treat the tourist badly (hello New York). Leave the comfort of a resort aside and go to a bed and breakfast for those who have lived there for 30 years and yes, they own the place. As a matter of fact, I already say at first: a thousand times the gringa’s 4-room inn, which is a bit grumpy but takes care of everyone, than the comfortable 100-room hotel that pretends that there was no pandemic to try not to lose the client. Some destinations I will return to, I do not deny. In Boipeba I want to eat the lobster of that old guy who fishes just for his livelihood, as he has done for over 40 years, and pay the boys there to take my suitcase 5 meters away from the inn. And feed the dogs and cats that grace this island of magic.There will be international trips (even because the singles resort that I love are outside of Brazil and I don’t pay 5 digits to have a children’s recreation and swimming pool with pee outside) and there isn’t a more beautiful city in the world (and with so many goodies) for me than Paris. There will be a bit of luxury if it depends on the trips with my parents, because yes, they are grumpy and of a certain age and want a well-known accommodation and super comfort (my mother is crazy about the cruise and there is no pandemic to hold her) But yes, there will be a significant change in the way I travel. It will be less excess baggage (even for the USA), and more memory in mind. And if you can, because not a little bit of personal ambition, touch the lives of the people I will meet around. Kisses in the heart. May you also change the way you travel. Here comes the tacky phrase in the text, but it does have to do! Let’s travel more in the heart and less on Instagram, please.