In this op-ed, Luis Vargas, CEO and founder of the tour company Modern Adventure, shares his thoughts on the outlook of travel in the coming months after several weeks of coronavirus wreaking havoc on the industry and the world at large — and why he’s certain the power of the traveler mindset will endure.
As the days turn into weeks, and it’s clear that things are not going to be “back to normal” by summer, I have found my mindset moving from light to dark and back again. I feel sad, angry, frustrated, and flabbergasted. I also feel grateful, humble, curious, optimistic, and brave.
Travel, for me, is about the context and empathy that it seeds. The new lenses we look through to see ourselves and the world around us. The understanding of the interconnectedness of all things. The narrative arc of the human story, of how our hopes, desires, and dreams are so much more similar than different.
I remember many years ago returning home after an extended period in rural Central America and marveling with new eyes at the wonder of fresh clean water flowing from my taps. That I could, instantly, get clean, hot or cold water at any time of the day. The gratitude I felt was a gift of awareness and humility that washed over me and my character.
This shared global experience is paradoxically a travel experience by definition. We are all, collectively, in a new place, with new norms, and a new culture forming around us. We are all active participants in the narrative, and we reinforce and build this new culture, for good or bad, by what we say and do, and equally by what we don’t.
I suggest it’s a time for offense rather than defense. It’s time to explore this new place we are all in. To find the connective tissue between us. It’s a time to collaborate, dream, reimagine, and commit.
I’m a believer in the forcing function. Often, we do hard things when we have to. When our backs are against the wall… Well, I wouldn’t bet against us.
May we never take for granted:
- The freedom to explore the world
- A warm embrace
- Drinks with a friend
- Sweaty bodies bouncing on the dance floor
- The bustle of a busy market
- The roar of a crowd
While it’s clear that we have a ways to go, there is much to be grateful for in this moment and in the anticipation of what delights await us once again, around the bend.