The Barefoot Corporate Warrior: There’s No Place Like Home (Toto)
The Great Exodus – the flight by Australians to Europe this northern summer, has just ended. Yes, it seems that simply “everyone” has been swanning around the foothills of the French Alps, enjoying dusky sunsets in Tuscany or taking in the island idyll that is the Croatian coast.
Really? Everyone? Well not really, but there does seem to have been a lot of European gallivanting going on this year.
While 2022 was a year of cautious baby steps out of our pandemic cocoon, 2023 has been a year of energetic abandon in foreign climes.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that there has been more than a 42 per cent increase in Australian residents leaving Australia for short-term visits to other countries in the month of August 2023 compared to 2022.
Short-term departures are closing in on pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 stole our right to travel overseas and we are not only calling out the crime but we are determined to put the virus experience well-and-truly behind us, exiting our “girt by sea” shores.
Combine the “we was cheated” feeling which two years of isolation engenders with a record build-up in personal savings (we had nothing to spend our money on), and you have a recipe for a frenetic flight from the country to all points of the compass.
Of course, as one of few truly multicultural nations on earth we also have the added impetus for many in re-connection with family and friends following years of separation.
It all adds up to a powerful spell of revenge travel magic.
Not even being required to arrive at an airport four hours prior to departure (it used to be three remember?), queues and delays, exorbitant airfares and flight cancellations and re-routing has deterred the determined Aussie traveller from getting out-and-about.
And I admit it, I have been an enthusiastic member of this itchy-footed antipodean stampede since we were unleashed on the world again last year.
We got a fright didn’t we? As the virus extended its deadly march across the globe and countries closed shop in an attempt to save lives, what we all took for granted was brusquely taken away from us.
One activity which we took as a right was the freedom to move around our country and the world as we please.
Borders closing was an existential shock to the core. A rough shake awake to the fragility of it all.
It made us sit-up and take stock – of ourselves, what we value, the meaning we attach to our lives, what we are doing or trying to do with and in our lives, our relationships.
Pretty much everything was tossed up in the air for review, either cursory or in detail. When all those attachments landed again some had disappeared through the drama, some remained in a perhaps diminished form and others were discarded entirely. Some shone brightly in the rubble and assumed new importance.
There was however, an overwhelming feeling of loss – that we had lost a fair portion of who we thought we were and the lives we were leading.
Of course some people faced the ultimate loss – of their lives. Others lost precious people who they were unable to say goodbye to in the way they had always hoped.
The virus induced a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual audit either conscious or intuitive, for many. And we are still working our way through this process as we navigate a similar but different world to the one which entered the dark pandemic days and nights.
COVID-19 was a writ large reminder of what we already knew – we all have limited time, energy and resources within which to explore this most amazing planet.
I have been fortunate to have travelled widely over the past several decades and I still maintain that you can’t beat Australia – particularly when it comes to stunning landscapes and in particular brushes with a somewhat in-your-face natural environment (you need to keep an eye on those kookaburras or they will steal your food!).
There is also a human element which makes our Island Continent a pleasant place to be – we are a fairly friendly and genial lot sporting a sunny disposition.
Australia regularly rates amongst the “happiest” countries in the world. It is clean and well-presented for the most part; service does actually come with a smile and is surprisingly rapid and efficient. We do most things well.
And before the gloomsters emerge with their litany of woes I want to emphasise I am comparing these characteristics on a global context. Travel really does help us appreciate the positive attributes of our country.
So, while it’s great to “mooch around the monuments” and take in the environment, history, culture and cuisine, I can’t tend thinking that maybe, now that we might have gotten “it” out of our system, that a focus back here might be timely?
The little routines of being home are a comfort. Travelling at home is usually more relaxed and simple than going overseas. It can induce a certain calmness and inner warmth, a feeling
of familiarity which is touching and reassuring.
Are you still in the wild-eyed and excited stage of revenge travel or the “not another Cathedral” stage? Has the “glamour” of the long haul flight, at which we have become expert through necessity, worn off?
I think when we take a dispassionate look, a helicopter view if you will, at the world as it is we can come up with good reasons to travel at home for a while.