Is this the end of the big overseas experience as a rite of passage?
No matter your age?
These are two big questions I’ve been thinking about lately as we enter 2021 with the same uncertainty around international travel that we left behind in 2020.
This year I celebrate 10 years since I packed by backpack, brought a one way ticket and headed to Europe for my 40th birthday and the many countries I’ve travelled to since. I reflect on the amazing freedom we had to travel, when and wherever we wanted, and on a budget.
Will this ever be the same?
The big OE is a rite of passage for many young people, taking a GAP year and heading off into the unknown to have amazing experiences, get drunk and party in exotic locations, especially, for Kiwis and Australian’s.
This is an amazing growth process ( drinking and partying aside ) and gives you many tools to help you in life, like dealing with different people and locations, language barriers, and stressful situations. As well as the amazing and sometimes life changing experiences that can, and do occur on these adventures.
But you don’t have to be 20 something to enjoy the same effects of a GAP year. If like me you left it till later in life to pack up and go traveling. Remember, I left it till I was 40 and I still had the most bloody amazing, and life altering experience.
After a resent discussion with my partners daughter at the age of 22 who was planning her big OE and had to postpone, has me thinking how restricted travel is going effect the younger generation over the next few years and how not being able to travel will change their life’s. (Yes first world problems for some.)
There is going to be a group of young people that are totally going to miss out on the overseas experience, as the window in which they can travel post education, pre career/family is taken away from them due to the world wide pandemic situation.
This of course will also effect those who were waiting to travel in their retirement or when children finally have left home.
Or if you’re like me, you have a strong desire to travel for the experience, culture and the people you meet and have in the past made it such an entwined part of your identity and life.
- Will travel be more expensive?
- Will there be the flights and airlines available to the many destinations we were used to?
- What will be left in those destinations that relied on tourism?
- Is a vaccination for Corona virus going to be mandatory for travel?
- Will travel insurance cover you for anything pandemic related?
So many unanswered questions those in the travel industry are asking and travellers themselves.
With no universal plan among countries, it’s hard to even try and plan anything (especially if you’ve accrued a tonne of travel credits to use up) and to get your travel plans rolling again. Even I was optimistic in rebooking delayed travel from 2020 for later in 2021, now I’m not even sure if that is possible.
I do hope those who do finally first venture back out into the world will embrace it whole heartedly for the amazing privilege that it is and not an entitlement. Something we have totally taken for granted for many years.
Let’s hope people travel more consciously and sustainable, spending more time in one location and really getting to experience that country in all its layers.
The world is a beautiful place and some of the overrun tourist spots have had the opportunity to let nature heal from the affects of over tourism, though this of course has come at a cost to the people that make their livelihoods in these places.
I grieve for those that will never now travel due to being scared or fearful or have missed the opportunity of time that has slipped through their fingers. And I celebrate the amazing experiences I have had in the past, and the awesome people I have met while traveling. I am glad I took the leap of faith when I did to go exploring the world solo and I encourage when it’s safe again to travel, you jump feet first into taking the chance to see this stunning world we call home.
Travellers, we will meet again. Our wanderlust spirit will not hold us back, when the opportunity to spread our wings comes again. Like the explorers of old, it will be a whole new world to see.