What I Miss Most About Traveling
2020 has left much to be desired in our wanderlusting hearts, but the good news is that travel leaves an eternal impact on our souls, so we have plenty of incredible experiences to look back on to feel fulfilled, inspired, and hopeful.
Every aspect of travel has the potential to evolve us into a better person — the people we meet, the connections we make, the surrounding nature, the food we eat, and the adventures we take. Each experience is different and that’s what makes travel so enriching.
To keep the travel nostalgia alive, we’ve reached out to our community and are reminiscing and celebrating what we love and miss the most about the ability to explore the globe as we once did. These profound responses are proof that the transformative ability and diversity of travel are what keep all of us dreaming and coming back for more — when the world allows us to do so.
Join us in following along on the journeys of our fellow travel lovers.
One thing I look forward to the most while traveling is how it expands my understanding of the world a little more each time I go on a journey. It is through my travels and meeting some amazing souls along the way that I learnt it’s okay to prioritise yourself, it’s okay to want or not to want children, it’s okay to not follow a path set by someone else for you. After all, everyone is only trying to figure it out. Some find comfort in crowds and some find comfort in their own company.
Traveling to other parts of the world lets me see my world views and myself in a fresh light through different cultural lenses — something we miss out when we are surrounded by people who grew up in the same society as you.
It is also traveling that made me see that I’m not free in my world. As an Indian woman living in a largely patriarchal society, I don’t have the rights to streets like a man does. So, that’s what I miss the most, feeling free.
Manisha Singh, Founder, The Sole Speaks
Of all things, I never knew how much I loved the melodies of alpine horns until I went to Switzerland. I never knew that wine was best paired with amazing people until I went to New Zealand. I never knew how to deal with bed bugs until I went couchsurfing in Macedonia. I never knew unyielding love until I got my first dog (ever) in South Korea. I never knew art until I went to Hungary. I never knew frustration until I couldn’t speak the language of the majority. I never knew how to make a proper cheese board until I worked at a bistro in Australia. I never knew great nightlife until I went to Hong Kong. I never knew disappointment until I broke up with my first boyfriend while traveling. I never fathomed the feeling of absolute terror until I boarded the plane to Bulgaria for my first solo trip. In sum, I miss the little surprises that taught me who I am, who I can become, and that growth can be a tedious process. One that allows us to shake off old, dusty ideas of the world, ourselves and gives us a chance to thrive.
Monica Mencer, English Teacher at Canadian Language Institute in Suwon, South Korea. Founder of The Morning Cactus blog.
Traveling is the one time that I can forget about the anxieties and stresses of everyday life and just be in the moment of what I’m experiencing. When I travel I try to immerse myself as deeply as possible in the country that I’m in – and so, I find spots that the locals enjoy, I try to learn a bit of the language, and on some occasions I even stay with native families. I miss being able to connect with those different than me and finding small and sometimes glaring similarities between us. Without being bogged down with stress, traveling allows me to reflect on how big the world truly is – and how small it is at the same time.
Traveling has always been a mode of discovery, adaptability, and growth for me. Unlike many others, I enjoy the process of picking a location and researching everything there is to know about it, from their culture, cuisine, way of living— to getting there and seeing it all in real life. It seems familiar somehow, yet it’s all brand new. I always go as far as watching movies set in that particular country or directed and acted by natives to the land I’ll be traveling.
I remember my trip to Cappadocia in 2019. I devoured all the documentaries the History channel had online and couldn’t wait to be there in person. I miss that! I miss the research of traveling that is required before and the journey during the trip. My love affair with traveling doesn’t end there; there’s always a post to all my trips. Looking at all the photographs and reminiscing about my adventures. I miss the anticipation of discoveries traveling brought to my life. I miss meeting strangers with different beliefs that have shown me so much and shaped my personality and how I treat others throughout the years. I miss tasting new flavors, dancing to new rhythms, connecting.
Naureen Chhipa. Actor, Travel, and Lifestyle blogger, Where to Nau
I am amazed by how much one can learn by travelling even without trying. It corrected a lot of misconceptions that I had which some people may find fascinating. A few examples are: (1) penguins and polar bears are found in opposite poles of the earth, (2) tigers are not found in the African continent, (3) the Iguazu falls bordering Brazil and Argentina is larger than the Niagara falls, (4) Central Australia is a desert and a lot more. These little discoveries that I pick up when I immerse myself in the culture of a new place are the things that I miss the most about travelling.
Fred Blair, Founder of AwesomeHoops.com
I miss the respite travel provides. Travel allows me to disconnect in a way that I can’t at home. Removed from work and personal projects and given a new culture to explore transports me to a more carefree mindset. I feel most like my authentic self when traveling.
Linda Mueller, Founder, The Expat Partner Coach LLC
While 2020 has felt like it dragged on for all of the wrong reasons, what I miss most about traveling is the way it slows down time and helps you appreciate every moment. Because you’re always having new experiences and seeing new places, you make so many more memories and each day feels different to the last. Not traveling means that the days run together and trying to make new memories and gain new life experiences has become so hard.
Kalyn Franke, from All American Atlas
Pre-COVID, I traveled quite frequently, averaging two work-related trips per week during peak seasons. Due to COVID, I haven’t taken a flight since mid-January. What I miss most about traveling is striving to ‘pack lightly’ for a multi-day trip, staying overnight at Marriott (as an Elite member), ride-sharing (i.e., Uber/Lyft) for trips from home-to-airport, AIRPORT LOUNGES (to pass time), and the many cultural connections that I made with others. Grabbing Starbucks in airport concourses, racing through check-in with TSA pre-check, and purchasing random gadgets through BestBuy vending machines (lol) are all fond memories.
Terrell Strayhorn, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Virginia Union University
Falling asleep to the sounds of the Ecuadorian Amazon, falling asleep and waking up at sunup without an alarm, as the animals wake up in cacophony, ready for Spanish language class after a locally prepared breakfast. Falling asleep in a sleeping bag in a tent heated by sunlight alone at a field camp at the foot of a glacier at Lake Hoare in the Taylor Valley, Antarctica and sleeping in the still quietness until past noon the next day, waking to the New York Times Sunday crossword and coffee and a great meal prepared by Camp Manager Rae, ready for a hike beside the glacier. Finding it too hot to sleep in a dorm room in Jyväskylä, Finland, taking the bedding off the bed and sleeping on the coolness of the lawn. As someone who has had problems falling or staying asleep for well over a decade, these three memories, among many, are what I miss about traveling. The relaxation, the opportunity to sleep in different outdoor lighting, sound, and temperature situations, the stillness that comes from not being electronically connected to anything or anyone for brief periods of time, that is what I miss the most.
Candy Fitzpatrick, Founder and Manager of RestAngles, LLC
What I miss the most about travel is the discovery of new places, the meeting of new people and the opening of the horizons of my mind. It is this sense that you are somewhere where you are welcomed, and it becomes an exchange of values. You give them your curiosity, attention and a foreign perspective. And in return, they give you the local traditions, welcome you into their country, and introduce you to the culture. Both parties benefit from this greatly, and this is something that usually gives me joy while travelling. A specific experience sticks out to me. Last year, I travelled to Indonesia on a cruise and visited some of the most remote islands never usually frequented by tourists. Although we seemed almost alien to the locals, they still showed the most incredible hospitality. And as we wondered how they survived on such a tiny island in the middle of nowhere, they appeared to be the happiest people on earth, very much to our surprise. Their smiles are still stuck with me today.
Anna Merabishvili, No Space In My Passport
This year we have really realized how important travel is to us. We miss being able to hop on a plane without a second thought. We miss feeling outside of our comfort zone, the challenges that come with being somewhere unfamiliar and the amazing feeling when you figure out how to solve those challenges. We love to travel because those challenges help us to feel like we are continually learning and growing.
Being motionless for so long has really started to make us feel like we’re missing a part of ourselves. We miss stumbling upon the extra special places, the little “gems” you happen upon by accident when you get lost in a new destination. We miss the true essence of adventure and human connection that comes with travel.
We have treasured being able to introduce our kids to different cultures and ways of life, first-hand. We miss sharing those meaningful moments and answering the myriad of questions they have during each trip. Our kids miss it too, always asking when we can travel again.
Debbie Fettback, Co-Founder, World Adventurists
I miss the stimulation from travel that comes from trying new food, seeing incredible sights, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Travel is exhilarating to be in a new environment where everything is unique and different. It is hard to accomplish that from inside my apartment; even though I try to make other recipes, it just isn’t the same.
Janice S. Lintz, Freelance Writer
One of the things we miss most about travelling is meeting amazing people along the way.
When we go somewhere new, we love getting in touch with locals and talking to them about their daily lives. It allows us to learn about their culture and to see the country from a different perspective.
Travelling can sometimes put you in a sort of bubble, where you only see small parts of a country. Often, these will be curated for travellers, so it becomes hard to understand how the locals live there.
Talking to people from wherever we travel to gives us a very different insight, and we miss those chats with tour guides, our hosts at homestays or even shop owners.
Plus, locals often have great advice on destinations off the beaten track. They know the area best, so they can point out places unknown to tourists. When we went to Vilnius in Lithuania, for example, a shop owner pointed out a viewpoint that no guidebook or travel blog ever mentioned. From there, we could enjoy the view over the Old Town without being disturbed by crowds.
We hope we can soon travel again.
Daniel Armesto Gutiérrez and Ilona Bicker, travel writers at Top Travel Sights
For me, travel has always meant adventure, time-out and relaxation at the same time. On my travels I always try to see and experience as much as possible of a country or region. Because I am convinced that a multitude of new impressions can provide similarly good relaxation as a week of beach vacation. The discovery of new cultures, traditions and ways of life of a foreign country is therefore something I miss very much in the current situation.
With a full-time job with limited vacation days, regular time-outs, variety and relaxation are very important. But not only that, but the outlook of the next planned trip alone is also enormously motivating. Most of all I miss the anticipation of the next big adventure. Due to the pandemic, you are now locked up in your own country and the desire for travel increases from month to month. I miss the excitement and the feeling of happiness with which one looks forward to a forthcoming journey weeks before. After all, one has been working towards it all year long. The biggest loss for me is therefore the lack of perspective in which we will now start into the new year 2021.
Alina, Founder of Tripspi, a free community-based travel platform
I am a huge fan of gastronomy which is why I usually choose destinations that have unusual cuisine. I love trying new dishes and seeing what locals eat during the day. Sometimes I even join cooking classes and workshops to learn new recipes and bring them home with me. Oftentimes I understand a culture much better after tasting its cuisine and to me, preparing food is a form of art. I love local restaurants that don’t serve fancy food, but the one everyone can afford.
This is probably one thing I miss the most right now. I haven’t had authentic international dishes in months and I miss all the creativity and excitement I used to feel when traveling.
Philip Weiss, Founder, PhilipWeiss.org
For us, the countries and experiences that take us off the beaten path, deep into nature, with uncontrived animal encounters or meetings with locals in their villages to learn about their culture and traditions, are our favourites.
What I miss most about these experiences are the connections that we make and the deep and lasting impacts that they have on me and my children. On every trip, we will inevitably meet someone that allows us to have a profound understanding of their life, culture and country. My children learn how different we all are, and yet, how similar. I especially love how simple life can get in those moments. There isn’t a text message, a snap, or an Instagram post that must be made. In fact, there usually isn’t any wifi or internet. I’m not jockeying for time with my children or negotiating a compromise for curfew or what parties they can attend. It’s just family time in a place where everything is a wonder, a curiosity, a challenge, or a discovery.
Nicole Hunter, Founder, Go Far Grow Close
I don’t take “relaxing” vacations. My style is to soak up as much of a place as I can, which means waking up early to beat the crowds, walking a half-marathon a day, and collapsing into my hotel bed as late as I can to conquer the jetlag. Before the pandemic, I traveled internationally twice a year and had to cancel a dream trip to South Africa. I miss everything — making it through longer and longer flights (my record is 14 and a half hours in coach), unlocking a city’s magic by mastering the public transit system, stumbling upon the meal of my life just by wandering past a restaurant, and making friends with fellow travelers along the way. My last trip was to Italy, and I’d give anything to go back and eat my bodyweight in risotto. I’ve since learned to make risotto at home, but it’s just not the same.
Sara Rathner, credit cards and travel expert at NerdWallet
We hope you are as inspired as we are by these expressions of why we travel, and that they have filled you with hope for the days when we can once again expand our worlds in all the ways that we are now missing so dearly.
Thank you to everyone that shared!
World Footprints Editor Kellie Paxian is living the digital nomad lifestyle as she explores six continents (and counting — looking at you, Antarctica). Her office locations are determined by a mix of wanderlust and Wi-Fi. From the top of mountains to the bottom of the ocean, there is no bucket list item that Kellie won’t chase. She is passionate about wildlife, adventure, and making the most out of every experience on her travels, whether it’s good or bad. Follow her footprints across the world on Instagram at @kelliepaxian