End of coronavirus lockdown and domestic travel in Australia: Should we be travelling?

We're back. Travel is back. Movement is back. There's light at the end of the home-cooked, self-isolated tunnel.

West Australians are already allowed; South Australians too. Territorians can move around. Queenslanders can take small trips. NSW will allow recreational travel from June 1. All we need is Victoria and Tasmania to come to the party – which they inevitably will – and we're back in a situation where all Australians can enjoy a holiday, even if the destinations are severely restricted.

That's cause for celebration for many of us. It's also, however, cause for apprehension. Yes, we can travel. But should we?

Everything has changed. Even travel within Australia in the next few months, travel within your own state, will justifiably cause people to be a little nervous.

What are airports like now? What is flying like? Is it a good idea to visit communities you aren't familiar with? Will you be welcome in these places? Will there be large crowds? Will you be helping people in need, or adding to a problem? Are you putting yourself at unnecessary risk just by leaving the house?

The interesting thing is that anyone who's done much travel in the past will already be familiar with these feelings of apprehension. Every time you go somewhere new you're taking a risk. You're taking a chance on the unknown. You're trusting your instincts and taking a punt.

All travellers have felt the fear, including me. I was worried before I travelled to Iran. You only ever hear bad things about Iran. I was jumpy when I arrived in Colombia. I was concerned about visiting Uganda. I was worried about Johannesburg. I was apprehensive when I arrived in Israel and Palestine.

So for those nervous about travel in the post-coronavirus world, take heart. It's natural to worry. And the good news is that there are ways to allay your fears.

First thing you need to do: research. I felt so much more comfortable about visiting Iran, in particular, after doing plenty of research. It's fine to read the news and take in all of the scary stories, to read the government warnings and process the worst-case scenarios, but you need to go deeper than that to discover the truth.

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Find out what the real situation is on the ground in the place you want to visit. Talk to people who are there; find people who have visited recently. The internet is your friend here – there's a whole cyber world filled with passionate travellers keen to lend a hand.

Next, take a calm, measured look at the dangers involved. It's one thing to trust your gut, but it helps a huge amount if you have some hard data to back those feelings up. What are your actual chances of something going wrong? How many people has this happened to in the past? How likely is the situation to get worse?

Before I went to Colombia I looked at hard stats. How many tourists are involved in incidents of violent crime? How many travellers were being kidnapped? How many had wound up in jail on shoddy drug charges?

The answer: barely any at all. Practically none.

Colombia: Safe for tourists, despite its reputation.

Colombia: Safe for tourists, despite its reputation. Photo: iStock

So, you consider your real chances of things going wrong. Then, you consider how you would deal with the consequences if they did – sometimes, this worst-case scenario planning can help put your mind at rest. And finally, you consider the steps you could take to reduce the chances of those things happening at all.

In Uganda, I travelled on a group tour, for extra safety, rather than going solo. In Israel and Palestine, I followed news reports and avoided trouble spots. In Iran, I dressed conservatively and followed social and cultural norms. In Johannesburg I called taxis rather than walk anywhere at night.

Another way to overcome your fears is to immerse yourself in the good stuff. Read up on your destination and all of the amazing things you want to do there. Look at photos. Watch videos. Get inspired. Get excited. Remember the reasons you're taking these small risks: the big rewards.

Because the truth is that those trips I was apprehensive about all turned out to be amazingly, incredibly, heart-warmingly, life-changingly good. They will stay with me forever. In Iran, I was bowled over by kindness. In Colombia, I found beauty and buzz everywhere I looked. Uganda was a wild, memorable ride. Johannesburg filled me with hope. In Israel and Palestine I was treated with amazing openness and kindness.

Uganda: Wild.

Uganda: A wild ride.

I can understand being apprehensive about travel in Australia in the next few months, and indeed the rest of the world once it opens up again. Nothing will be the same. Everyone will be on edge. It will take courage to get back out there and do what we love.

But I'm confident that the rewards – the same rewards we've always enjoyed, as well as new rewards, rewards for taking a chance, rewards for helping people who need it, rewards for committing to seeing the world once again – will still be there, better than ever.

Travel safe, friends, and travel well. Because we're back.

See also: Why we need Chinese tourists less than we think

See also: Australia holidays: The 26 most wonderful places to visit, state by state

Are you planning to travel in Australia now that restrictions are being lifted? Are you apprehensive about it? How have you allayed your travel fears in the past?

Email: b.groundwater@traveller.com.au

Instagram: instagram.com/bengroundwater

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