Majority of the world has come to a standstill with arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel plans everywhere have been thrown into disarray or put on hold to protect the safety of travelers and prevent further spread of the virus beyond borders.
While this can be an unsettling time for those with the wanderlust bug, reflecting on the therapeutic and world-view enhancing qualities of travel, as well as bookmarking places to visit on the bucket list once we get the green light gives us something to look forward to as we remain in quarantine at home.
Grounded talks to Andie Javelosa, Social Media Manager and Content Curator for lifestyle brands and personalities, about what travel means to her and how her paradigm on it has changed since lockdown was implemented in the Philippines. Read on to find out what this fashion, travel, wellness and modern-day spirituality enthusiast’s hopes are for the future of the tourism industry.
Grounded: Tell us about your travel story! What has travel been for you, solely for work, pleasure, a mix of both? A way to discover yourself?
A: I wish I traveled for work, that would be a dream! I just travel for leisure and I get really excited about creating personal content & experiences when I do. Traveling also motivates me because it gives me something to look forward to and work for. It is my way of treating myself when I think I deserve it too.
Grounded: What do you love most about traveling?
A: Initially, it is the excitement of planning an itinerary, trying new food, and taking beautiful photos! But in all seriousness, traveling gives me a sense of fulfillment. Even long after a trip has passed, recalling moments and memories made with loved ones still makes my heart feel full. It’s quite an addicting feeling that inspires me to travel and make priceless memories again!
Grounded: How has travel positively changed your life?
A: Ever since I became a frequent traveler, as I said, it has always given me something to look forward to and work for. It has made me independent and that feeling of fulfillment is there because I can finally take myself places that I only once dreamed of.
It is true when they say that after a journey, the traveler never returns home quite the same person because you experience and learn things that you can not when you stay in one place.
Grounded: Can you tell us your personal experience of the global pandemic affecting your travel plans?
A: Honestly, I am not upset about my travel plans being put on hold this year because I have been feeling that I should slow down my pace. I am so grateful though that I have traveled enough in the past few years, and even in January this year.
If this pandemic didn't happen, I probably had about three to six more trips spread across the year and to be honest, that is a lot to keep up with and I was starting to feel some pressure if that was sustainable for me. With the world on pause, there was no other choice left but to take a break as well and reevaluate aspects of our lives and the way we were living.
Grounded: How has being confined to your own home changed your paradigm on travel?
A: Being home for months has all the more instilled in me how important it is to value moments and opportunities when they are there. Live each moment to the fullest, be mentally present, and conscious wherever you are. The present time is all we have, including this situation we are in right now. Do not rush time in any way because it will never return. Make the most out of every situation you are in for it will never come again.
Grounded: What are your hopes and dreams for the travel industry in the near future?
A: First, I hope that employees and companies big and small recover from this economic crisis and that people can soon travel and support businesses once again.
This crisis has developed our sense of community with our neighbors so I hope when all of this is over, Filipinos will choose to start with visiting our local destinations to help our industry get back up.
Grounded: How about the next five years?
A: I do not hope for things to go back to the way we used to travel, but I hope both companies and tourists will become more conscious and mindful of how we travel and do business; one that not only benefits humans but one that is also fair to mother earth. The travel industry has been so huge in the past few years but I think it has neglected how it takes a toll on the environment.
Grounded: Can you share with us one or two of your favorite travel memories?
A: A unique and close to the heart experience would be our trip to New Zealand. It was quite incomparable to any place I’ve seen for it is was a godly testament of how truly wonderful and amazing this world and Mother Nature is. It’s true when they say that it’s not about the destination, it’s the journey. New Zealand turned out to be extraordinarily unreal and magnificent.
We spent endless hours on the road traveling from the North to South Island; from woodlands to snowy mountains, to coastlines to grasslands, and deep blue lakes, I think there was no other way to truly see New Zealand for what a magnificent earthly beauty it is.
Grounded: Do you think travel can improve one’s mental health?
A: Definitely! For me it is. Traveling generally gives one time to relax, recharge, and take a break from the norms of everyday life. It can make you feel happy, connected, and contented as well as long as you are with the right people and the right place or situation.
If a mental break is also one of the reasons why you are going on a vacation, make sure that you pre-plan what you can and forsee any possible obstacles from happening to ensure a smooth and stress-free trip. Manage work and errands efficiently before a trip and do not let them be a possible source of stress when you are away.
Traveling can be very stressful too especially when there are so many details involved, but it can be managed.
Grounded: Where will be the first place you will fly off to once the pandemic crisis is over?
A: Firstly, back to Manila to put my life in order. Haha. But I think I would just keep it to local destinations when traveling again is possible. I would like to help support our local tourism first and foremost and there are still so many places I have not even been to yet in our own country. I have never been to Coron or El Nido yet so I will consider those two.
Grounded: What keeps you grounded?
A: I have been trying my best to meditate and do short journals daily. I listen to my choice of relaxing music like Jazz, French, or Electro Chill when I work, cook, or do something. I also love diffusing essential oils or lighting a candle at night while I read a book or wind down. It really makes a difference!
Grounded: Do you have any words of encouragement for people who want to or need to travel for various reasons?
A: If it is not necessary or urgent but if in any case you really want or need to travel, then do it with mindfulness. It would be unwise to travel the way we did before where we weren’t as sensitive to the surroundings or as conscious of simply being in the present. I guess to travel for leisure anytime soon seems to be nowhere in sight, but let us learn from this experience and improve the way we travel and live in the future.
Grounded: Any message of encouragement for our frontliners working hard to make this possible every day?
A: Every one of you is indeed our modern-day heroes and nothing can ever totally compensate and make up for the immense time and hard work all of you have put in. All of us are in debt to all of you. Thank you for keeping our world turning!