Missing exploration

Many people have had their travel plans ‘scuppered’ with the pandemic and lockdowns. Maybe you. Me included.

I missed the planned holiday in Palma, Spain at the end of March as lockdown started, still awaiting refund of my deposit from Ryanair, or potential future holiday when it re settles to the ‘new normal’.

I did, however, get to Anglesey instead, a place I wanted to visit but never did, driving distance and still UK immediately prior to and over lockdown but still had to cut that short to get home too!

I did explore the many and varied beaches there, windy and sunny but not too warm then. I did get out and about, stayed alone in a rental property that was very cute and drove around the island. Watching windswept patterns on the sand, paddling cold sea and escaping back to the warm car for picnic lunches or bought treats from the cafe, like Puffin Island lighthouse. I chatted to the cafe owner, a younger woman wanting to live her dream of a farm in Ireland and as a life coach we chatted about it.

I explored my own locality during lockdown on exercise walks, learned about new places to explore and walks with my daughter and partner they showed me when we could meet again outside.

I got the unexpected opportunity to watch a red kite in the wild, almost at eye level on a hillside its hovering motion and vibrant colour in the sunshine told me what it was (having some experience of flying one, along with other birds or prey including my prized eagle in 2019 at Guantlet Bird of Prey in Cheshire!) I noticed it, watched it and photo/videoed it as it hovered, then wings back and tight, dive to the ground for the prey it had been watching! Magical.

I found new places, nooks and crannies, met new people to pass the time of day with, new walks and new curiosities I wouldn’t have found otherwise and this goes for many others too.

Travel can be localised or far reaching. My year out was a life long dream from childhood pictures and a few paragraphs on the Amazon jungle that I actually visited, to Machu Picchu as ‘the highest mountain in Peru’ I dreamed of escaping to rest on at busy times as a single mum in the 80-90s!

You don’t have to travel abroad to find experiences and explore. Your own country is on your doorstep and now accessible from July 2020! Try new places in the UK or your own area, walk more than fly or bus more than train so you see more, explore more and meet more people!

Try new things, new places, new options for travel than the obvious or the usual. I travelled around Europe on the train in my 20s and loved it! Slept on a station floor overnight in Italy, on a train corridor one time with many others the guard had to climb over or a couchette in France with others in the compartment! My boyfriend and I found ourselves with no hostel one evening and then an older man spoke to us and took us on an uncertain and anxious trek around the city – where he offered us accommodation in a plush room for £6 the night! A new experience in trust and the best in people who care, excitement and self awareness even then!

I often have to trust with travel as we do, but being happily open to it is different – but necessary. Picked up by ‘George… of the jungle’ in Iquitos, Peru, who then proceeded to show me around the city centre buildings, point out huge lizards hiding in the trees and exploring an uncertain wet market at Belen. Those, again, I wouldn’t have seen without chancing trusting a stranger and still wariness – like the offer of a boat trip at the doubtful Belen shanty town I refused, but all in all a pleasant, amusing experience I knew I would pay for at some point and have to haggle for so not to be ripped off. It cost me about £12 but I had company, safety in that he knew people and culture I didn’t, he needed money and I had a guide.

I had a similar experience even in Wales trying their local pie maker, wandering the closed castle walls and driving who knew where until I go there! Trusting locals to help and be nice, having a vague plan and route but turning off or asking around when I needed to.

So far, so good – its worked to date!

Exploring, new experiences, unexpected opportunities are what ‘travel’ more than package holidays is all about. Travellers still go on planned trips and visit touristy places because they are the key attractions not to be missed, but also you take from them whatever else you find!

A new picture, new connections, new friends in unexpected places – Laos monks still friends on Facebook, a teacher met travelling I stay in touch with and a young couple, the guy I met on Don Det in the hostel! Two girls I met up with on return after our four day escapade into the Amazon (second time for me!)

I still follow the treks of some people, still travelling up to lockdown, or moving countries for work, asking for more pictures, new stories and even tips for the future.

My sister in Australia now retired is travelling by camper van around that vast country that she already knows well enough from flying to see friends and holidays, because they can not currently travel outside to the UK and other countries they had been planning.

Adapt and flex, there is a vast world around you outside your door and the other side of the world!

Animals, flora, people and places to see anywhere and everywhere – and always those new experiences and unexpected opportunities!

Further Reading

7 ways to scratch the travel itch Nomadic Matt

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