Updated: Jan 5
Travel means many things to many people. The subject of many different forms of writing, it can be a break from routine, an indulgent escape, or an alternate way of life. Travel has been always been a form of escape for us, but in recent years has become a critical lifeline for dealing with stress. The opportunity to physically place ourselves into a new environment allow us the ability to truly and completely unplug, unwind and shift focus in a manner that is impossible otherwise.
No matter your personal experience or opinion, no one can argue that the past two years have shaken up routines and shattered definitions of normal. The events that have transpired on a global scale have affected each of us differently, specifically in our personal relationships, our professional lives, and our mental health. Wanting to peer closer, we inquired with a few friends from different walks of life to gain insight on how we perceive and experience travel, how it’s changed and how we expect (or hope) it changes in the future.
The following questions were posed to each of the willing participants. The responses have been grouped together for a more comprehensive view of the varying opinions and experiences between them. A brief biography for each participant has been added to the first question to provide context and background. Our contribution to each is listed directly below each question, written in italics.
What do you consider your style or type of travel?
Generally, we lean more towards detailed itineraries, taking the time to research each location, but allowing room for spontaneity and change when we arrive. Our travel is definitely luxurious, from little indulgences to grand events, we choose experiences that both enrich and allow total escape.
Chef Denise explores the world through food, looking for regional specialties, awesome restaurants, incredible culinary experiences, and delicious recipes to share.
I prefer to be a slow traveler when possible so I can really get to know a place. I enjoy doing research on where to stay, what to do, and of course, where and what to eat as much as I can before I leave home. It gets me excited about where I’m going, and I can spend more of my time enjoying myself at my destination.
Veronica is a lover of travel which is why there is no surprise that she ended up working at the largest airport in Canada. Her job includes looking at various processes at the airport and what they can do to improve them.
Our (my family's) style is relaxed with an element of planned. We like to know about where we will be going so that we can check out some of the most popular places but once we are there we also enjoy going off the beaten path and discovering new things on our own.
Matt and Lucy are from Two Tickets To, a UK-based travel blog specializing in
stories, hints, and tips from our travels.
We work full time, so we love to experience as much as we can during our annual leave. Our style is packed itineraries with plenty of overland travel via public transport. We love night buses and trains – they’re a great way to explore somewhere and save on accommodation costs!
Yitzy is a transit operator for the last 13 years in Toronto, Canada, who enjoys reading, walking around exploring the city (or up north) and travel.
When I travel if its to somewhere like Europe I like the idea of a planned tour, but if it is somewhere drivable then a more spontaneous trip is enjoyable.
Lauren & Lottie are twins who enjoy travelling together. Sharing their travel destinations, reviews and travel tips on their blog.
Our travel style is definitely budget. When travelling, staying in hostels helps with the budget aspect of our trip and the money we save on accommodation means more of the budget is available for activities and sightseeing!
Margaret has worked in a Toronto Hospital for many years as a clerical worker.
My style of travel would be both planned & spontaneous.
Stefanie is The Hidden Coconut, a travel blog focused on helping international teachers or expats adjust to living abroad.
I would say my style of travel is in between luxury and backpack. I’ve definitely graduated from hostel life but I’m not at the 5 star level of luxury yet.
Natalie is a second year law student in Toronto.
My style of travel fluctuates depending on where I am travelling, but if I had to choose one mode of travel for the foreseeable future, I would choose a planned trip to properly tour a new city or country.
More than talking about his job, Francesco, the Stray Idler prefers to talk about what he likes to do: writing novels and traveling. He has been doing both things for a long time and has recently tried to combine them, mainly writing stories and reflections inspired by his travels.
I travel in different styles, depending on the time available. But I usually try to keep my expenses down whenever possible. In any case, in the evening I need a private room with a bathroom, even if it's a very simple one. Planner? I used to be an extreme planner. The pandemic forced me to change.
Marco is a music lover and host of MarcophoniK, a seasonal podcast which combines cool tunes, culture news, city events listings and sound exploration.
My type is, most of the time, planned with some spontaneous moments or some last- minute surprises.
What types of locations & activities do you gravitate towards when travelling?
We tend to gravitate towards nature, culture and history. Whether that comes in the form of exploring ancient ruins, hiking up the side of an active volcano, dining al fresco at a local bistro or playing on the beach with local puppies, depends entirely on the location.
Chef Denise: As a chef, food is definitely a top priority for me whether I am visiting a foreign city, an exotic island, or even the town next door. I seek out the local regional specialties, the farmers’ markets, and everything from award winning restaurants to hidden neighborhood gems.
Veronica: Funny, when I was younger and single you could not get me on the beach, I always wanted to learn history and gravitated to Europe. I’ve been lucky to see some of the most beautiful and historic places. As a big reader, one of my highlights was traveling through Eastern Europe while reading Elie Wiesel’s NIGHT. Reading the pages and then actually seeing the places was an extraordinary experience. That trip included a stop in Auschwitz. As I got older and now with a family, I want nothing but the beach. A place to stop, ready my book, enjoy my family and relax.
Matt & Lucy: We love getting to know the history of a place, whilst also understanding its place in the modern world. Ruins, statues, museums – all of these are great ways to learn about somewhere. We’re partial to a good hike, too.
Yitzy: When I am away I enjoy getting out and exploring. Historical sites and museums are enjoyable. Many times I've found walking tours which can be enjoyable and informative.
Lauren & Lottie: We enjoy a wide variety of locations and activities! We would be equally happy soaking up the sun on a beach or wandering around a new city seeing the sights.
Margaret: I love beaches, sand & relaxation, but I also love to explore, so whatever destination I’m vacationing in I will explore further.
The Hidden Coconut: I love visiting museums and ancient ruins. Learning about the history of a city or area is really interesting to me. I also like trying different foods and local favorites.
Natalie: I definitely gravitate towards food first and foremost. Once I try a country's popular dishes, I cannot leave without seeing their landmarks!
Stray Idler: A bit of everything, I do not preemptively exclude anything, but I tend to be more attracted to cultural itineraries. I don't visit often museums, unless they are peculiar to the place. I usually try not to include activities that consume too much time, if this forces me to give up seeing or doing anything else.
Marco: It is usually big cities with food and social but lately are more nature, countryside, mountains, forests, and hikes oriented.
What makes a trip, a "Trip of a Lifetime" for you?
A "trip of a lifetime" can come in many forms and on many levels, but at its core, it is a vacation filled with little luxuries that encourage relaxation, exploration and allow the body and mind to unwind and make room for new experiences. What to know how you can make every trip, a trip of a lifetime? Click here.
Chef Denise: I feel lucky to have had so many trips that in isolation, I’d say were “trips of a lifetime.” Maybe I’m too lenient in my criteria, but if you fall in love with a place for whatever reason: scenery, food, the people, a special experience, it qualifies as a “trip of a lifetime.”
Veronica: Our honeymoon to the Maldives was a trip of a lifetime. To me a "Trip of a lifetime" means you may never get the opportunity to visit that place again. We didn’t spare any expense, nor did we skip out on events. It was the most beautiful place we visited and the most relaxing. We always talk of going back, but even if we don’t, we know we experienced it to its fullest.
Matt & Lucy: This is a hard question! It needs to be a trip with an experience which can never be repeated. It might be as grand as an expedition to Antarctica, or as simple as experiencing the perfect sunset on a summer’s evening.
Yitzy: I have been lucky enough to go on a handful of "trips of a lifetime". Israel, Italy, England and Amsterdam. The sites, food, and knowledge of the guides on any tours I went on made the trips informative. The people I had the pleasure of being with were friendly and I still keep in touch with many.
Lauren & Lottie: A trip of a lifetime for us involves going to a destination where there is something we really want to tick off our bucket list. For example, the main reason for our trip to Rome was to explore The Colosseum!
Margaret: A trip of a lifetime for me would be to enjoy every moment & everything that my destination is offering: people, food, history and landmarks.
The Hidden Coconut: I would say that a trip of a lifetime is something that you are able to talk about with friends for years to come. It’s not necessarily where you went but who you went with and the memories that you made together.
Natalie: I would say traveling with the person I love most, my boyfriend. I feel like every trip, even if it gets boring, is a trip of a lifetime when you’re traveling with people you love.
Stray Idler: Difficult to answer: it is something you only understand as the days go by. I have visited wonderful places that have left me nothing and less interesting places that have left their mark on my soul. So, after many years I am looking for an inner fluctuation during my trips.
Marco: A TOAL is that trip that will leave you with vivid memories. I firmly believe that “moments” are what makes an unforgettable trip: usually for me is not the entire trip that will last forever in my mind but specific settings, atmosphere, lights, colors and sound. Usually for me it isn't necessarily extravagant but rather simple things that makes that moment unforgettable. I usually realize and know well that that “moment’ is “of a lifetime” as it unfolds.
Describe the best/most perfect day you’ve experienced while travelling/on vacation?
Though we've had many perfect and amazing moments over the years, the most absolute perfect day we've experienced was in Monteverde, Costa Rica. We hiked for hours through a cloud forest, attempted a second hike (but had to turn back due to bad conditions), had a delicious Casado at Sabor Tico (one of our top 5 meals ever) while watching a group of local kids play soccer in a field across the street until the sun set. After the sun went down, and random locals trotted by the restaurant on horseback, we walked home, stopping to pick up a pesto pineapple pizza (which we enjoyed in the darkness on our balcony, listening to the howler monkeys in the trees).
Chef Denise: We started our day with coffee and pastries in our room admiring the Mediterranean Sea in Nice, France. We took a short drive to the charming Medieval village, Saint Paul de Vence, where we walked through the picturesque, cobbled stone streets, lunched at the famous Colombe d’Or, and toured the Foundation Maeght. We finished our day with a fabulous dinner at a rooftop restaurant in Nice watching the dolphins swim in the sunset.
Veronica: This is a much harder question to answer. There have been so many instances where I feel I’ve had the most perfect day, but if I had to pick a place, it would have to be Italy. Whether visiting family or traveling with friends - some of my favourite memories are there. Being of Italian descent, I was lucky to visit frequently but not until I was older did I get to see it all with my friends. I cherish those memories and they will forever be a part of my favourite trip. Yes Deb, the wine in Assisi, the bear in Rome, the guy in Como - that to me was a perfect trip :)
Debora (of Make Them All Trips of a Lifetime): Yes! Those memories will always stay with me (except those I conveniently don't remember in Assisi).
Matt & Lucy: It ended with an amazing sunset. After a hot day spent exploring the amazing old town of Dubrovnik, we headed to the hills overlooking the city and watched the sun set over the sea. Breathtaking.
Yitzy: The best day I experienced on travels had to be the day in Israel where we went to the top of Masada which is an ancient fort and then went to the bottom and spent the rest of that day in the spa like waters of the Dead Sea. So amazingly fresh after the mud exfoliating our skin. Amazing memories for a lifetime.
Lauren & Lottie: For us, one of the most perfect days while travelling was during a trip to Cornwall. We spent a day sunbathing on the beach, bodyboarding in the sea and eating a Cornish pasty and ice cream for lunch.
Margaret: One of my best day I have experienced while travelling was with my kids & their girlfriends in Banff, Alberta - just having a great time together, eating great food and exploring the city.
The Hidden Coconut: It’s hard to pick just one day, so I would say any day where I’m with
people that I like in a place that we enjoy.
Natalie: When I went to Panama, San Blas - I recall standing in the middle of the ocean in a natural pool. I couldn’t see anything but water around me, I couldn’t help but think how beautiful this earth is.
Stray Idler: There is more than one, all different. But the most recent one happened in 2019 in Ukraine. Unlike we usually do, we booked a one day group tour to the Danube delta. The others were all Russian and not even the guide spoke English beyond a few words. Nevertheless, everything went smoothly, from the visits, to the lunch, to the playful activities. It was an unforgettable day before this terrible period. Even today, in 2021, that remains my last day of summer for me. (Click the link to read more about it).
Marco: Riding wooden bikes in downtown Stockholm with a bunch of strangers/tourists was exhilarating; a Forest Bathing (which is contemplative practice) session I took right after was quite amazing and reconnect with nature was reinvigorating yet calming, discovering Stockholm after that was quite magical. It is quite a cozy city with a gentle pace.
What was/has been the biggest impact the pandemic has had on you personally?
We have been lucky enough not to be personally effected by the virus, nor have anyone close to us succumb to it. Our professional worlds have been turned upside down, shifting from in the office to working from home, seeing a huge increase in demand and expectation. This has taken a huge toll on our mental health. Our few meetings with friends have been distanced or virtual, our extended family get togethers have been split or cancelled. Our travel plans in 2020 (African Safari) were cancelled.
Chef Denise: The pandemic threw my husband and I a few curve balls. We had just sold our business and our home. We were all set for a year of European travel, but we got stuck in San Diego when we stopped to say “goodbye” to my parents. The day we arrived was the day the U.S. declared a national emergency. So, not only did we have to put off our plans, but we also wound up living with my parents for a year and a half!
Veronica: This is a very difficult question for me. The traveling has been difficult as our family trip to Cuba was cancelled just before the pandemic started, but for me it’s been trying to keep things normal for my children. Having to be schooled online at home and not having the daycare, while continuing my full time job, has been the biggest challenge for me.
Matt & Lucy: It’s been incredibly frustrating to be stuck at home. That said, we’re lucky to have our health, and to have had the chance to explore more of our local area. We appreciate where we live far more now than before the pandemic.
Yitzy: The pandemic has certainly hampered many plans of travel, but I am hoping that things are slowly coming back.
Lauren & Lottie: We have not travelled abroad since the start of the pandemic. This is due to the uncertainty and the ever-changing rules on travel.
Margaret: Personally the biggest impact that this pandemic has on me is how we don’t have "normal" life anymore. With wearing a mask all the time, line ups everywhere, restriction in socializing & travelling, etc.
The Hidden Coconut: I would say the struggle and extended waiting time to receive visas to
Natalie: The pandemic has affected people in so many ways. Personally, I have been blessed to have not had any direct negative impact in my immediate family or friends. The only change I’ve had to endure is being more cautious when going out and doing law school from my bedroom.
Stray Idler: Mentally it was not easy, in my case not because of the fear of the disease, but above all because of the fears of an economic recession and the constant uncertainty. Indirectly, I was partially affected like most of people, but there is at least one positive side: I have been working from home for a year and a half.
Marco: Not being able to travel outside Canada to discover new places and visit my family in Italy is probably the biggest impact I experienced. The second one is the restrictions that lockdowns have imposed to us with the incapability of training at the gym which had a big impact on mental wellbeing.
How has travel changed or how do you think it will change in the coming years?
Other than a few day trips to local beaches/parks and one overnight stay at a friend's cottage, we did not travel since August 2019. The next real trip had been planned for October 2021, but we monitored in case things changed. There are more rules to follow, more securities to ensure and more possibilities to consider when planning. As the virus settles, things may return to a more familiar state, but they will never return to what we once considered normal.
Chef Denise: At least in the short term, I think health concerns will be more at the forefront for travelers in general. I think traveling while ill will be less tolerated, and travelers will be leery of those around them.
Veronica: Being at the airport, I can tell you the process has changed quite a bit. There are more frequent checks of documents and longer wait times on arrivals. I think things will evolve though and travel will return to what it was. The checks will come to a stop and the fear will be gone, this is when travel will be “worth it” again. For now, I think traveling is still the best thing someone can do, we just have to be smart about it. The one thing that I think will change though, is how clean things are. If there is nothing else that this pandemic leaves us with, it will be that traveling will be cleaner (bathrooms, airplanes, airports).
Matt & Lucy: I think it will be a while before the days of regular, spontaneous travel return. Trips will require more planning – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Over-tourism was a real problem before the pandemic, and perhaps we can all more mindful of the impact of travel when we choose our next destinations.
Yitzy: The pandemic has certainly changed our way of life. From wearing masks in public to travel bans but there's been many local day trips this summer.
Lauren & Lottie: We think in the years to come people will be taking more holidays in their home countries. However, at the same time, the people who cannot wait to go abroad again may stay longer abroad due to having missed out on trips, saved up more holiday funds and wanting to make up for all the time abroad they have missed.
Margaret: Travelling has changed so much - restrictions, COVID testing, vaccine passports.
The Hidden Coconut: I think there will be more ‘proof of vaccination’ requirements to enter
countries and cities.
Natalie: I think that travel will change due to legislations that will be implemented - specifically ensuring that people have vaccines before going abroad. Additionally, people will probably be more cautious about their health when traveling by taking extra precautions (masks, hand sanitizer, etc.).
Stray Idler: As for Italy, most people do not travel or travel nearby and almost never abroad. Surprisingly though, I have noticed that international ticket prices have remained quite low. And also those of the hotels. And, no, that's not a good sign.
Marco: I think it is forever changed. People travels less and tend to be more selective. For the future, I think that masks are here to stay a little longer and certain strict measures for sanitization and general precautions should always be in place. Is just common sense. People will be generally more careful and the travel industry will take extra steps to make us travelers feel safer.
Many have had personal epiphanies during this time, forced to look inwards. Have you or your mindset changed since the pandemic started?
Our mental health has been (and continues to be) on the greatest rollercoaster ride of its life to date. As major events in the world occurred, not only the pandemic, but discussions on race, politics and equality emerged, our mindset moved through bouts of anger, depression, exhaustion and fear. One thing we did realize early on, was that together, we were a strong unit. We watched as couples around us struggled and quickly (and thankfully) understood that we had built a supportive and loving relationship that could withstand anything.
Chef Denise: Personally, the 2 years before COVID were more difficult and my husband and I had to make some difficult life changing decisions. Oddly, as disruptive as it was, we made peace with the situation pretty quickly. I will say, as we are opening back up, I have become more tolerant and patient of the small businesses that are short staffed and struggling to keep up.
Veronica: I don’t know how to respond … I don’t know that I’ve had any epiphanies but I have realized that we really need to enjoy life however we can and if there are challenges, face them head on. It has taught me to not take the things we do, however mundane they seem, for granted.
Matt & Lucy: The biggest thing has been an ever-growing appreciation of where we live. We’ve discovered parts of the UK which we might never have been to, and it’s made us realize that you don’t need to travel 5000 miles to have an amazing adventure – it’s right here on our doorsteps.
Yitzy: This pandemic has certainly made me not want to spend as much time out in public when I don't have to be. While I am still the same outgoing self I am trying to be selective with who I see.
Lauren & Lottie: Considering how quickly the pandemic took hold and how long it has been going on, has made us realize if there is somewhere you want to go or something you want to do – just go for it! As you don’t know what’s around the corner.
The Hidden Coconut: I wouldn’t say I’ve had any personal epiphanies during COVID.
Natalie: I’ve realized the necessity of taking a step back for yourself, and how important it is to check in on the people around you during difficult times.
Stray Idler: Yes, it has changed and continues to do so. But it's gradually aligning itself on a more defined thought. I carry with me several teachings, many times I was surprised by unexpected reactions of people around me. Like many, I have learned to live with less remote future horizons, while still maintaining a prudent approach to life. But not only that, there is also an aspect that I never expected: I thought I was a weak person. I realized that probably I am, but much less than many others.
Marco: Definitely. I don’t take for granted certain everyday routines and connections we have with the outside world but this whole experience also brought to light certain human behaviors, some good and some bad, that only a difficult situation as such could have highlighted, which in a way is good. It made me realize how certain people are disconnected from reality, so I’m more aware of this and somehow more careful when I interact with not familiar individual.