I hope this letter finds you well, and even after all the challenges we’ve been thrown, you are still curious about what lies beyond your doorstep and remain open-minded to the world. If you take the time to move beyond the headlines, you’ll find that if you are vigilant and vaccinated the world has re-opened to you. If you are not, there is still plenty to enjoy on a local level that will have your heart singing.
Why do I see the glimmer of hope that 2022 offers? Because I’ve been able to continue travelling domestically (albeit not to WA or the NT) for the past 18 months, during the pandemic, and travel is bustling. I’ve seen a thing or two!
Getaway continues to deliver strong ratings, confirming to me that our sense of wanderlust has not wavered, and I know from our broad Journeys to Come family and countless interviews that our domestic market is reaping the benefits of travellers staying close to home.
It seems not long ago we were getting behind projects like Buy From The Bush and Empty Esky to encourage people to support our regional markets. Careful what you wish for. Despite an international conundrum regarding staff shortages, many outfits like caravan parks, camping grounds and regional B&Bs are experiencing a ‘sweet spot’ and embracing the challenges.
What do I ask of you as a traveller? I would like you to try to remain open-minded (and open-hearted) to please leave your judgments at the door, pre-conceived ideas have no place when it comes to enjoying the journey. I recently set the cat amongst the pigeons when I recommended, in a radio interview, Saudi Arabia as a travel destination. Some of you may remember we did a fascinating interview at Journeys to Come with a local Aussie, Jo Ryan (my former ‘baby whisperer’), currently loving living there with her husband who’s involved in building new museums and galleries. Jo even uttered the words ‘I’m living my best life!’ As she made the most of travel around the region.
My point is that you may be philosophically opposed to a current ruler’s regime, to a government’s decisions, or the way community leaders interpret a form of religion, however, don’t condemn an entire nation and its locals because of that. I’d have missed so much of the world if I took a different stance. My list is endless of the countries where I’ve questioned the current leaders outlook, but cherished my experiences with the locals, found safe harbour, had my viewpoint changed, even been a force for positive change myself.
So, how does travel look for 2022? Keeping in mind, I am not a news journalist and travel in a very different way to one, our reporting goals are quite different, however there is much to be hopeful for. Both domestically and internationally I see some clear trends.
- Indigenous tourism, from Canada, to Chile, to home, people relish learning from and about the local culture.
- Local food and wine. We want to know the story behind our produce, to celebrate local, primary producers, to have a point of difference and better yet take some local treats home with us.
- Activities and adventure. As we prefer to move outside, we want activities to keep us busy, to learn from, to get our heart racing, to gently ease us into our environment.
- A mindfulness and respect for the earth. Never have our national parks and outdoor spaces been so busy. We want to know they are cared for, kept clean and we’ll help in the process! What are their stories? What about the floral and fauna and the wildlife around us? We remain curious, however I think we are emerging a little more cautious and possibly more grateful for our natural surroundings.
For both international and domestic tourism the same rules apply. It sure helps to be vaccinated, you’ve no choice but to be vigilant to the ever-changing regulations of not only entering and leaving countries but even your local shops. This is our new normal.
We will never return to how life used to be. We are all fundamentally different, we’ve just experienced too much, heaven knows the world is in this together and we are all a little tender right now. I’ve heard it said that ‘international travel is no longer a right, but returning to be a privilege’ and I don’t entirely disagree with that. You’ve sure gotta be organised!
Let me add, there’s never been a better time to connect with a ‘Travel Designer’, AKA your local travel agent. I keep thinking how much easier they make travel to navigate, no pun intended. The majority have endless experience of travelling the world across a variation of budgets. They have the knowledge to book all sorts of fares, routes, to create a variation of itineraries. Simply knowing where to start for your holiday, during these ever-changing times, can be reason enough to reach out. If you’ve never booked through a travel agent, try to find one that you connect well with, that understands you (literally) and your needs and then they can help create an amazing experience for you. You want options, they are there to help, opening you up to a variety of things you may never have even thought of. I am not paid by anyone to say this, but it’s been a niggling feeling of mine to suggest this to you and indeed to support their industry.
Regarding my beloved cruising, it’s all happening, I know many find this hard to believe, especially in Australia where you may not be literally seeing it. But trust me it’s steaming ahead. Portugal comes to mind as a great option (amazing for us shopaholics); an Arctic Cruise along the top of the world offers soaring Norwegian waterfalls, the marine life of Greenland and the chance to gush over the odd chunky polar bear. Maybe you’d like to island hop around Croatia, the Med…I could go on, you can’t hold back the tide (damn it, another pun).
Travel remains, more so now than ever, such a personal experience. There are some who you’ll talk to, who may read this and just be flabbergasted we’re even having this conversation. That’s fine, as I’ve found myself saying quite a bit lately ‘you do you and I’ll do me’. The joy of the journey can be taken no matter where you are.