It seems a lifetime ago, on a grey day in early February when, with coronavirus barely on the radar for anyone living outside of Asia, my family boarded a flight from Toronto to Florida.
My husband and I, avid travelers before we had kids, were (possibly naively) thrilled to be going on our first international trip as a family of four. The short three-hour flight would be a perfect test run before we jumped back into the bigger vacations that called to us.
Looking back now, it is so strange that there were no obvious changes to protocol at that time. No travelers wearing masks, nothing unusual in how things were managed. Thankfully, my mild germaphobia had me wiping down the family’s seats and trays with Lysol wipes, but I was definitely the exception.
A mere month later and travel had all but ceased. Globally. Across the entire world. Everywhere.
For those of us who love travel, either personally or professionally or both, the news of closed borders and grounded flights cut like a knife.
Empty streets, parks, and beaches. Empty monuments, plazas, tourist attractions. Even Disneyland had become more ghost town than wonderland.
And yet, despite the severity of the global impact and the questions about when (and if ever) we can return to normal, the travel bug that bit me so long ago is still there. When I heard about the coronavirus growing in Germany, I thought of my visit to Oberammergau and their passion play that was scheduled to take place this year. When I saw Turkey surpass Canada for number of coronavirus cases, I thought of the kind restaurant owner who stopped to help us when we got lost on the back streets of Istanbul and ended up showing us the best places to visit and eat. A photo of an empty alley in Nazareth’s Old City Market sends me to Trip Advisor and down a rabbit hole of the best places to visit in Israel.
In our industry, we move people for work. Yet for so many assignees, they are moving, not just because their job requires it, but because they want adventure, a chance to experience a new culture or language, and the opportunity for a new perspective. I think for most people, that doesn’t change with our current reality. While this global pandemic will surely bring changes to travel, global borders, and our mobility industry, I believe that, like my family, most in our industry are eagerly anticipating the roar of a plane engine heading to new and exciting chapters in their lives.
Thankfully, my kids took the 12+ hour travel day home, complete with flight delays, gate changes, and turbulence, in stride. So, while I’m stuck inside, pacing the floors of our house like a caged tiger in a zoo, I’m dreaming and planning of all the beautiful places and amazing people that await us. And the day we can all collectively say, ‘let the adventures begin again’.