I may be a little late in publishing this, but I wanted to get my thoughts down on the record.
Much of what you’re about to read goes without saying. Nonetheless, as someone who works in the travel industry, I think it’s important for me to state my position on current events in no uncertain terms.
Whenever I stop to reflect on the situation that’s unfolding, the one word I keep coming back to is ‘unprecedented’.
I have a feeling (and I hope it’s not just me) that most of us still have no idea what we’re doing or how best to navigate this new world order.
Just three weeks ago, I was sitting in a cramped marshrutka minivan (virus breeding ground, hello) barrelling across Georgia to do a spot of travelling (unthinkable today).
A few days after our mini trip ended, people started throwing around the phrase ‘shelter in place’. A few more days, and those recommendations to stay home morphed into full-scale travel bans, mandated self-isolation schemes and city-wide lockdowns.
Like most of you, we had no idea how quickly the situation would escalate.
There’s not a person on earth who hasn’t been adversely affected by the events of the past few months. If you’re fortunate enough to still have your health and your job, your biggest inconvenience may have been cancelling or postponing travel plans. If you’re in the travel industry like me or a small business owner (double whammy), you’ll no doubt be feeling the financial impact by now.
The uncertainty, I think, is something none of us are immune to.
You may have noticed that throughout all this, I’ve been continuing to share travel-related content on this blog and on social media. Today, I’m here to tell you that I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, that does not mean that I’m condoning travel.
Quite the opposite.
Let me say this in no uncertain terms: Now is not the time to be travelling. And that’s not my opinion – that’s the resounding consensus of every reputable source of information on the topic.
Please don’t interpret my decision to keep creating travel content as any sort of rebuttal or indeed a sign of naivety. That is not my intention.
There has been a lot of discussion in blogging circles on how travel writers should handle this situation, and truthfully, no one has a definitive answer on what the ‘correct’ approach should be (there’s that word, unprecedented, again).
Things aren’t ‘business as usual’ for me right now – how could they be? But my decision to keep writing, keep creating, is a concerted one.
One of my goals with this website has always been to support small businesses and independent tourism operators. You don’t need me to tell you that they’re going to need us more than ever in the coming months and years.
I do feel a sense of obligation to keep my website in good shape so that I can continue to tell their stories and promote their services when it’s safe to travel again. I also have contractual duties to fulfill, and this being my main job (and passion), I need something to keep me busy while I’m in self-isolation (even if it’s no longer earning me any money).
What about you?
I think the most important thing to remember right now is to listen to the professionals and seek out reliable sources of information when making decisions. While we all want to return to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible, I predict that the transition back to normalcy will be just as fraught (maybe even more so) with misinformation and misguided actors.
Watch out for people taking advantage of the situation (yes, that includes travel writers and bloggers – we have skin in the game, remember).
For health and hygiene advice, consult the World Health Organization website. For travel information, use Smarttraveller (or your local equivalent). And for information about border crossings and quarantine requirements, the IATA website is updated daily.
Take care of your health, and do what you can to protect the most vulnerable in your community. We will get through this together.