Coronavirus and Priorities: Oh well, Guess I Won’t Be Booking Travel… Forever?

Above image: This was snapped on one of my Bay Bridge bike rides on a day when Karl loomed above San Francisco.

The other day I was scrolling through my news feed and saw an article that said airlines like Delta may eliminate the middle seat in their planes. If we weren’t in a pandemic, I’d be stoked about flying on planes without middle seats — oh wait, there’s a term for this — it’s called business or first class. And just like business or first class, tickets may also cost 50 percent more. Sigh.

Seeing this really bummed me out. It reminded me that the notion of traveling is changing and will never be the same. I keep picturing a world where traveling will only be accessible (financially) to the elite. So long to bargain fares? Should I stop keeping tabs on my miles? [I shrug.]

The travel industry is now in shambles with a future as uncertain as the next banana-flavored treat I plan on baking.

My latest baking creation: I made a sugar-free banana carrot cake bread with coconut flour. It looked and tasted nothing like carrot cake.

Now that travel has pretty much changed for the long-term (that same report said airlines may enforce temperature checks before boarding and plastic screens in between seats), I doubt I’d be able to afford it or travel as frequently.

Also, there’s always the chance that a second wave of the pandemic may arise. Or maybe it already has? Who knows.

The travel lifestyle on hold indefinitely

If you travel a lot, you know it’s not just about jumping on a plane.

It’s the entire idea of venturing to a new place that has also disappeared with the growing onset of this novel virus.

Maybe it’s a sign, as the spread of coronavirus was properly timed with my travel magazine subscriptions coming to an end. No more daydreaming while flipping through glossy pages filled with exotic jungle tree destinations in Cambodia or the best Tuscan wineries.

No more planning trips, figuring out what I’ll pack, creating an itinerary, calculating points on my travel credit cards, or feeling that insatiable high and satisfaction when I hit “book.”

But but… I created a travel blog

Maybe I’ll evolve my blog to be about sugar-free baking. Or organizing your closet. I’m pretty good at both. Sometimes, I just don’t know what I’m doing or what even matters anymore.

But what I do know is that before the pandemic, I felt less connected to the people I should’ve been more connected to.

This is the extent of my excitement these days. A cute lady bug hitched a ride on my hand on daily bike ride to the Bay Bridge.

I used the busyness of my daily schedule as an excuse to forgo frequent phone calls with my parents and close friends. For some reason the thought of my routine being interrupted by an unscheduled phone call (gasp) made me feel burdened even though I always felt better after talking to friends or family.

Travel is my safety blanket

I kept busy and traveled a lot as a way to postpone the reality of… life. Big trips were sometimes booked spontaneously, depending on what was happening at the time. Feeling stressed, lonely, depressed, anxious, or sad? Yep, I’m definitely going somewhere.

In winter and spring, every weekend was spent snowboarding. The rest of the year was filled with planning travel to seeing friends in different states or going on my yearly international solo trip. At the height of coronavirus and shelter-in-place last month, I was supposed to go to Bali for some serious yoga in a paradise jungle.

At first I was kind of bummed out, but after that, I hardly gave it a second thought.

No travel, yes silverlining

There’s something about choices being taken away at this time that helps us see things more clearly and make decisions more easily. We’re no longer overloaded with endless choices of where to travel, who to hang out with, or what to eat (check out the jam experiment if you’ve never heard of it).

Coronavirus has shifted focus and priorities. People are dying by the minute. Humanity, society, and the world as we know it is changing both negatively and positively — we’re experiencing unforeseen environmental benefits from lockdowns. Air pollution (which kills 7 million people every year!) has dramatically improved in places like India and China.

We’re watching and waiting for a vaccine and for things to normalize. I say, no more normal. Masks are here to stay and handshakes are a thing of the past. Your home is your new travel destination, so buckle in and get comfy.

The view on the Bay Bridge on the way back to Oakland.

Despite the devastation from coronavirus, I want to believe that the collective mindset is about helping others, taking care of loved ones and keeping social connections alive, as well as supporting local businesses.

Most people are at home right now, slowing their roll and getting back to basics. The lucky ones still have jobs they can work remotely. Even though I was laid off in March, I still consider myself lucky, as I was able to quickly receive unemployment benefits. (I know millions are still waiting for stimulus and unemployment payments.)

How has coronavirus shifted your focus?

It’s 2020, which means hopefully, we’re seeing things more clearly, especially in a pandemic. What are some priorities that have changed for you?

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