Mental wellbeing, travel


I think second only to seeing family and friends, travel is what I have missed the most in this last year. At the moment travelling anywhere seems an amazing prospect. I miss the research, the planning, the countdown, that giddy feeling as you board the plane – that long awaited trip is actually happening!

Our last trip abroad was to Venice in January 2020 (almost a year ago at time of writing), just weeks before Coronavirus hit worldwide. It was probably in Italy at that point and we didn’t know! Ignorance was indeed bliss! I remember us vaguely talking about some mystery virus in China and I clearly remember the shock of watching the news a couple of weeks after our return and seeing Venice in lockdown, it just didn’t seem possible.

That trip seemed then, and even more so now, idyllic. It was a quiet time of year (only mad dogs and Englishmen, or Englishmen with a January birthday go on holiday mid winter), so we could get to see everything we wanted to at a relaxed pace. We arrived late on a Friday evening and walked through the streets of Venice gone midnight to find our hotel. It felt like we were the only people there. I thoroughly recommend a mid winter city break (when we can). It is quieter, hotels and flights are much cheaper and the weather is generally no worse than the UK, usually better or sometimes with snow in cities set up to cope with those conditions. We love walking round cities in the cold and then diving into a cafe for a hot choc or hot wine to discuss what we’ve just seen and plan what to do next.

A Bellini at the famous Harry’s Bar

In Venice we walked miles, 21,000 steps on one day. We got lost, and revelled in that ‘lost-ness’, (although thank god for Google maps to get us back on track). I really miss that feeling of discovering something new and the fact that our plan for the day can go delightfully off piste.

The wishlist is growing. Rekjavik, Salzburg, Far East, New York, South America (BBC’s Race Across the World is to blame there), Llubjiana, Seville, they are all at the top of a long list. I’m not sure it will matter, I think it is the overall experience of travel that is the drug here. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad trip, yes stuff has gone wrong, (and I’ve had some shockers – kidney infection in Spain, stomach bug in The Alps, broken ankle in Lisbon), but that is part of the overall memory and there has always been something to laugh about.

Instead of not being able to travel making me feel even more miserable about the situation we all find ourselves in currently, the memories and the hopes and dreams are actually bolstering my mood. We have often talked about that Venice trip this last year and how fortunate we were to have it before the world turned upside down. We look at the photos often and it feels like the memories are even stronger and more sustaining because of all that has happened. We’ve also watched a lot of programmes that have taken us on the sort of journeys we’d love to do. I’ve already mentioned Race Across the World, but also Travel Man has helped us reminisce and dream, and the BBC drama Us also left us feeling very nostalgic. We also know we are incredibly fortunate to have had some amazing travel experiences in our lives so far.

I am staying hopeful that soon we might be able to start planning an adventure but in the mean time I’ve noticed some free virtual tours of places we’d like to visit popping up on Facebook that I’ll give a go.

Stay safe everyone and in the meantime I hold onto this quote.

“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” Albert Einstein

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