Travel: Pause for thought: Positives of the virus lockdown
Restricted movement is improving the health of our planet. It’ll probably do us some good too, says Sarah Marshall.
Six years ago, my partner’s 70-year- old father travelled from Sardinia to visit us in London. It was his first venture outside of Italy, which, at the time, struck me as odd.
His reasons for staying local had nothing to do with economics, aviophobia or a lack of wanderlust. He simply felt there was still so much more to learn about his own country first, and even the urgency of ticking time wouldn’t make him rush elsewhere.
Right now, peering through the window at a world which extends no further than a 2km radius, I envy that sense of assured calm. In the current climate, how many of us lament the trips we’ve never taken, the missed opportunities we let go, the weeks we’re having to let waste away?
Amid the doom and gloom of coronavirus, it can be hard to find even a faint flicker of a silver lining, and while lockdown is a tiny price to pay for potentially saving lives, it’s still a price to pay.
Like every life experience, though, there are lessons to be learned especially concerning the freedom and frequency of our movements around the globe.
Bringing the travel industry to an abrupt halt does have dire economic implications, but there are a few beneficiaries as well. The planet, for starters, is literally breathing a big sigh of relief.
According to NASA, levels of nitrogen dioxide, produced largely by car engines and power plants, are 10-30 per cent lower across eastern and central China; in Milan and northern Italy they’ve fallen by 40 per cent. Emissions of global warming, greenhouse gas CO2 are likely to follow a similar pattern, aided by heavily reduced air traffic.
Scenes on social media of dolphins porpoising through empty canals in Venice have since been exposed as fake news, but it’s highly likely that wild animals roaming people-free fields, coastlines and even concrete pavements, are probably having a nicer time than usual.
Yet, perhaps one of the most unsuspecting entities to profit from all of this is us. Like it or not, being grounded provides an opportunity to appreciate the holidays we’ve had and to carefully consider the trips we’d like to take.
I was 16 when I first buckled up on a plane, and I remember the excitement of taking off and being at eye level with the clouds. But with budget airlines battling to get bums on seats, flights soon became cheaper than a Party Bucket at KFC and a fast flight mentality took hold.
Once lockdown lifts, I, like many, will be desperate to travel again and I know, wherever I go, I’ll value the privilege even more.
For now, it’s important to research and make informed choices about the destinations we visit, the methods of transport we take and the operators we use.
Time is typically the stumbling block in our ‘normal’ busy lives; but in the ‘new normal’ it’s one of the few remaining things we have in almost limitless supply.