Frustrated wanderlust

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By Caitlin Kelly

Two items I can always find are my passport and green card (proof of my legal residence in the U.S.)

I look at both wistfully now and wonder when, where and if I’ll get to use them again.

It’s a 5.5 hour drive from our home in suburban New York to the Canadian border, the one we usually cross across the St. Lawrence and the Thousand Islands, sometimes timing it for lunch in Kingston, Ontario at Chez Piggy, a terrific restaurant.

Now I can’t even go to Canada, since they keep postponing opening the border until — the latest — the end of July. It’s really frustrating! Especially since New York, amazingly, has managed to beat back COVID-19 from the nadir (700 deaths a day in New York City) to a handful. We’re safe, dammit!

 

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My last road trip, to Middleburg, Virginia, March 4-6

 

It’s a real privilege to have the time, health and extra income to travel at all, I know. We don’t have the costs of raising/educating children, or carry student debt, so it’s always been my greatest pleasure. I usually get back to Canada, my homeland, several times a year, and, ideally, to Europe every year or two. I admit, I neglect the rest of the world!

 

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Istria, Croatia, July 2017

 

I’ve so far been to 41 countries and there are so many I’m still eager to see: Iceland, Finland, Morocco, Japan, St. Kitts and Nevis, Guadeloupe, Patagonia, the South Pacific, Namibia and South Africa,

I want to go back, (and have many times) to France, England, Ireland — and see more of Italy, Croatia, Canada (Cape Breton, Newfoundland.)

Within the U.S., I’m eager to do a driving trip the length of California (where we have friends in Los Angeles, San Francisco and a few other places), would really like to visit some national parks like Bryce, Zion (Utah), Big Bend (Texas) and Joshua Tree (California).

I love road trips, and have driven Montreal to Charleston, South Carolina; across Canada with my father when I was 15; around Mexico and Ireland with my father; around the Camargue on my first honeymoon (and had everything stolen from our rental car!)

 

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The Dolac Market, Zagreb, July 2017

 

I had really hoped to spend the month of September in England, renting a cottage in Cornwall, seeing pals in London, maybe scooting up to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Not possible now, thanks to their 14 days’ quarantine.

 

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New Mexico, June 2019

 

Now looking at any other places…not in the U.S. I’m worn out by the relentless racism, violence, political malfeasance and the millions of Americans who refuse to wear a mask or socially distance, endlessly spreading and re-spreading this disease.

In the meantime, glad to have a working vehicle, I may just start venturing out a lot more within New York State — maybe camping for a few days, renting a kayak on the Hudson or Long Island Sound.

Fun doesn’t have to require a long drive or flight, I know.

And yet — overtourism also remains a serious problem for the environment and for so many people and places, as this Guardian article discusses:

 

Tourism is an unusual industry in that the assets it monetises – a view, a reef, a cathedral – do not belong to it. The world’s dominant cruise companies – Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian – pay little towards the upkeep of the public goods they live off. By incorporating themselves in overseas tax havens with benign environmental and labour laws – respectively Panama, Liberia and Bermuda – cruising’s big three, which account for three-quarters of the industry, get to enjoy low taxes and avoid much irksome regulation, while polluting the air and sea, eroding coastlines and pouring tens of millions of people into picturesque ports of call that often cannot cope with them.

What goes for cruises goes for most of the travel industry. For decades, a small number of environmentally minded reformists in the sector have tried to develop sustainable tourism that creates enduring employment while minimising the damage it does. But most hotel groups, tour operators and national tourism authorities – whatever their stated commitment to sustainable tourism – continue to prioritise the economies of scale that inevitably lead to more tourists paying less money and heaping more pressure on those same assets. Before the pandemic, industry experts were forecasting that international arrivals would rise by between 3% and 4% in 2020. Chinese travellers, the largest and fastest-growing cohort in world tourism, were expected to make 160m trips abroad, a 27% increase on the 2015 figure.

The virus has given us a picture, at once frightening and beautiful, of a world without tourism….

From the petrol and particulates that spew from jetskis to pesticides drenching the putting green, the holidaymaker’s every innocent pleasure seems like another blow to the poor old planet. Then there is the food left in the fridge and the chemicals used to launder the sheets after each single-night occupancy in one of Airbnb’s 7 million rental properties, and the carcinogenic fuel that is burned by cruise ships. And then there are the carbon emissions. “Tourism is significantly more carbon-intensive than other potential areas of economic development,” reported a recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change. Between 2009 and 2013, the industry’s global carbon footprint grew to about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the majority generated by air travel. “The rapid increase in tourism demand,” the study went on, “is effectively outstripping the decarbonisation of tourism-related technology”.

Destructive though it is, the virus has offered us the opportunity to imagine a different world – one in which we start decarbonising, and staying local. The absence of tourism has forced us to consider ways in which the industry can diversify, indigenise and reduce its dependency on the all-singing, all-dancing carbon disaster that is global aviation.

Are you also itching to travel?

Can you?

 

Will you?

17 thoughts on “Frustrated wanderlust

    1. Well, I also get that. I drove (25 minutes east) today to Connecticut and got cut/color and ate in an outdoor restaurant (very far from others.) I feel like a human being again.

  1. More than travel, I’m itching to get back to a non-socially distanced social life. But who knows when that will be. Who knew, a few months ago, that merely hugging a friend would be out of bounds for the foreseeable future?

    I try not to think about it too much, but the prospect of social distancing lasting at least another year, possibly more (according to some scientists from Harvard) is tough!

  2. I’m actually prepping for a trip to Iowa and South Carolina next month. I’ll be attending a book expo in Des Moines, and then staying overnight with some friends at a famous haunted house. Then I’ll be seeing my best friend from college in South Carolina for a few days. Haunted locations may be on the agenda, but we’re still figuring things out.
    Either way, I bought a GoPro just for the occasion.

  3. Chez Piggy. I haven’t been to that restaurant in a few years, but I have always enjoyed it. The first time I went was about 35 years ago!

    Yup, getting claustrophobic over here, too, I’ll be leaving the north in about 10 days for a month of holidays in Penticton, and B.C. is beginning to relax a bit, but it’s still very tight, especially in NWT. Don’t know if you’re aware of this: https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/mobile/some-americans-still-visiting-canadian-landmarks-despite-border-shutdown-1.4987782

    1. It’s such a lovely spot!

      Your holidays sound great!

      I am aware of this and it makes me very upset.

      I’m now Googling boats to rent in Croatia….I have no idea if I’ll be able to flee, but boy, I want to, maybe by September.

      Am pushing myself now to get OUT more — found a ladies’ golf league Wednesday nights 45 minutes north.

  4. yes, I do long to travel again. I got a mini-fix by driving upstate to Traverse City, here in Michigan, saw a bit of family safely, and spent a lot of time outside and it was so invigorating. Like NY, Michigan has done a great job of clamping down on the virus, even as the idiots protested her with huge weapons in her house, in Lansing.

  5. ThingsHelenLoves

    I’m torn on this. I’d love to travel, but am anxious about doing so. The conduct I see when I’m out locally worries me as most people aren’t using masks and social distancing depends on everyone using common sense. Common sense doesn’t seem so common anymore. But with that said, I do miss the sense of release and freedom that comes from travel, so I’ll be doing something at some point…just not sure what yet. Road trip and camping, probably!

    1. I agree…Part of my confidence (living in New York state) is that for now, we are in good shape and people are generally behaving well.

      I certainly won’t go anywhere there are crowds!

      For the first time, we bought a county parks pass, and that will help us enjoy local activities more affordably.

  6. Oh yes, would love to travel again. Had to cancel a lengthy trip to Italy with my (Italian) husband, and also had to cancel a work trip to Ireland. I know the most important thing is health and in that regard, I am lucky. I also know that whining about missing these trips constitutes a “first world problem,” but still, one longs to wander.

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