The experience of a second holiday season in pandemic mode, punctuated by the arrival of the latest coronavirus variant, serves as a stark reminder of how a state of abnormality has become our new normal. The other day, I was messaging with a long-time friend on Facebook (he started off by offering advice on protective masks — just another casual chat, these days), and we briefly speculated on how long these general circumstances might continue. I see us dealing with the pandemic at least through next year, and quite possibly beyond that.
For those whose 2022 aspirations involve travel — foreign or domestic — I’m not sure what this all means. Hopes for international travel, in particular, seem to be up in the air (pun intended) for next year. And for anyone whose travel abroad itinerary includes multiple countries, the varied and fluid public health regulations from nation to nation make planning especially difficult.
I’m still hoping to participate in a law and mental health conference that I’ve been helping to organize for next summer in France. I give it a 50/50 chance of happening. In the meantime, I’m going to do a bit of virtual traveling. Among other things, I was delighted to see that European travel guru Rick Steves has posted all episodes of his popular PBS series, Rick Steves’ Europe, to his company website (link here). While it may not be the same as seeing a show in London’s West End or checking out bookstalls along the Seine in Paris, virtual travel is a convenient — and, for now, safer — substitute for the real thing.
Most of all, I hope that safe and healthy travel will once again become a reality for those whose journeys have yet to be taken. I’ve been blessed to visit many fascinating places during my lifetime. And while I hope that more travel beckons for me, I especially wish for younger folks and others who haven’t had a chance to see much of this world opportunities to do so.