It can be hard to see the positives right now. Don't worry, I get that. Those of us who love to travel are trapped with the itchiest of feet. We're stuck with nowhere to go and no solid end in sight.
All we know is that it will be many months and maybe even longer before it's safe to see the world again, before international borders open up and we can all get on a plane and go to far-flung destinations and feel comfortable and welcomed.
That's a damn shame, though of course there are bigger things to worry about right now than not being able to go on holiday. Far, far bigger things.
Still, sometimes you want to stop worrying for a while. Sometimes you just want to sit back and dream of better things. And there's good news on that front: there's never been a better time to do that.
Travellers, here's what you can do with your next few months, months that we will all probably spend essentially in isolation, in our own little family pods with little to do.
You can dream. You can plan. You can think about your next trip and how you're going to go about it. You can make a list of places you want to go to for the next few years and the things you want to do there and you can prioritise them.
You can take a few moments, too, to reflect on what you've enjoyed most in your travelling life so far, how lucky you've been to have those experiences, and how you can achieve something similar in the future.
This is great news. After all, one of the most enjoyable aspects of travel has always been the anticipation. If you just take off tomorrow and begin your holiday then and there you miss out on such a huge part of the experience: the dreaming, the thinking, the planning, the booking. The sense that this is all going to happen soon, and that you don't really know how it will pan out.
That's a wonderful thing, and now we all have plenty of time to do it.
Travel marketers always say that there are five stages to the travel process. It begins with dreaming, pie-in-the-sky stuff as you consider the where and the when. It then moves to planning, and then booking, before ending up with experiencing, and finally sharing.
Clearly we won't be doing the final two for a while, and people will even feel uncomfortable going to the booking stage until we have some sort of idea of how this thing is going to pan out. That's fine.
The first two though? The dreaming and the planning? Now is the perfect time for those. Now is the ideal moment to take your mind off all of the bad stuff and just allow yourself to fantasise about future journeys, and maybe even sketch out a few rough plans to make them happen.
To fuel your dreams, you might need some inspiration, and many of us will have time on our hands over the coming period to find it. This is the time to watch travel-flavoured movies or TV shows (I'd recommend rewatching anything starring Anthony Bourdain). Read books (I'm currently into an anthology of AA Gill's excellent travel writing). Listen to podcasts (ahem – Flight of Fancy). Listen to music (Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run has a beautiful road-trip vibe to it).
It's worth bearing in mind, too, that the first destination that will open up to pretty much all of us is our own: Australia. For someone like me who has focused predominantly on overseas travel, this is a great opportunity to think about where in Australia we would like to go, and what we would like to experience.
There are so many opportunities here, so many destinations that travellers from overseas dream their whole lives about. Given the impact of the summer's bushfires, and the absolutely brutal blow of covid-19, so many of our destinations and operators are going to need your business when we're allowed back out there. Maybe now is the time to take your dreams of the world and apply them to your own backyard.
There are positives to be taken from our current situation, even if it seems so dire. Dream about what's to come next. Dream about a future journey that's both affordable and meaningful. Make plans to get involved in travel once again, however big or small that may be for you.
Allow yourself to enjoy a genuine part of the experience: the anticipation. And even more importantly, allow yourself the luxury to picture a better time. Because it will come.
Editor's note: Here at Traveller, we know it is a tough time for everyone in the travel industry and for all lovers of travel. But we want to be positive and inspire you to start thinking about your next holiday, whenever it may be. That's why we're launching our 'Don't Dream It's Over' campaign with Saturday's cover story, offering 13 reasons why we'll never give up on travel. We want you to be part of that - share your most inspiring travel photos and stories with us on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #travelleraudream and inspire others to start planning their dream holiday.
Keep on dreaming!
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