I’m flying home after another remarkable week in Turkey, my plane somewhere high in the sky above Ontario as I start to write this. This year, 2020, has been difficult for many of us, and some of our essential stress-relievers have been taken away.
For me, one of those pop-off valves is travel, my periodic escapes into the wider world outside of our borders, checking countries off of my list (yes, there is a list), and seeing and doing new things. Three such opportunities have passed me by during the lockdowns and quarantine. I had long planned to spend this election (again) overseas, and fully intended to make that happen, and this desire became a driving force for me.
I have already discussed the reasons I chose Turkey for this trip. Although I like to visit new countries (I haven’t been to many twice), practicality dictated otherwise this time. Not that I haven’t expected to come back – when I left for home last time I knew I would someday return, just not now. But here’s an interesting observation: If you would have told me years ago that Turkey would become my second-most-visited country outside of the US, I would have been surprised. But today it ranks second only to Italy in that regard.
I had four spectacular hikes this week, booked through The Natural Adventure Company. I didn’t know much about them when I found this hiking vacation on their website, but I’m glad I went with them – coordination of all aspects of the trip was perfect.
And I’m happy I spent the week on the trails, as I had acquired a stash of hiking equipment when I went to Machu Picchu, and it hasn’t seen nearly enough use. It was nice to use all of these “toys” again, and overall I really couldn’t have asked for the trip or hikes to have gone better.
I go home now to a country with COVID spreading uncontrolled, which worries me, as it worries many of us. Because of this, many people told me that I shouldn’t take this trip, but I needed it, and with one exception I did it about as safely as I could.
Here’s the thing: COVID isn’t going away – it’ll be something that we will have to live with, and life won’t return to normal until we have a vaccine or it burns itself out, and I don’t know how long either of those will take. But life can go on – we all have to calculate and determine the risks we are comfortable with, and modify them as much as possible.
This was my calculation: although the flights were long, airplanes haven’t been a major source of transmission. I wore masks almost everywhere I went. I ate at outdoor restaurants as much as possible, and when not possible chose seats that were isolated or near open windows. And I spent a sizable portion of the week outdoors, hiking alone. We all have different risk factors so the calculus for you may differ (except for the mask wearing, which I don’t see as negotiable).
If you’re not ready to travel yet, I totally understand that. And some parts of the world aren’t ready for us to travel either.
But when you’re ready, the world will be ready to welcome you back – at least some parts of it. And they’re well worth experiencing.
I’m getting ready to land in Chicago now. After that, I have just one more leg back to Detroit. Thank you all for joining me on this journey. I hope to travel again soon.