How Covid-19 has changed my traveling habits and expectations

Road trip in Nordhrein Westfalen with a Mini Clubman S

It’s been almost a year since Covid-19, or corona, made Belgium go into a lockdown. As a photographer and travel blogger, I was hit pretty hard. Which obviously affected my views of the future.

My main income source as a photographer is reporting events and taking photos for business websites and marketing. Since events became prohibited and businesses had to work from home, both of those incomes dried up completely and instantly.

As a travel blogger, it was still possible to travel around Europe. And even beyond. It was not illegal, just frowned upon by many. However, many still did travel despite the entire corona thingy.

Anyhow, I did not feel like traveling. Instead, I dove into researching how viruses, vaccines, and medicines work. Pretty interesting stuff, to be honest. Also completely different than a lot of those anti-vaxxers out there belief.

Anyhow, this is not a pro-vaccine article (however, I recommend at least consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19).

As I was sitting at home, doing virtually nothing, I had a lot of time rethinking how I traveled and how it was a habit and almost consumer product.

Then, after moving to Brussels in July 2020, I dove into train travel. As it’s the center of Belgium, every city is within an hour’s reach. But why stay in Belgium, of course? How far do these trains go?

The city I call home now.

Soon I discovered virtually any place in Europe is reachable by train. France, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy,… The list goes on.

The only real issue was the price. Train travel is expensive. Sometimes even 10 times as expensive as buying an airplane ticket there.

Yet, that did not deter me. I was already starting to grow sick of airplane travel. Corona was just the extra nudge for me.

Seeing all these people packed in an airplane was just not ‘my vibe’ anymore.

Sitting at an airport for one to two hours in advance, waiting, then sitting in a tube soaring through the air and making massive amounts of emission.

Nah, just not my vibe anymore.

But it’s not just the waiting, the crowds, and the obvious impact on the environment.

To me, it was the speed it all had to be at.

“The journey is more important that the destination”

Oliver Goldsmith 

I know; I hate that quote too. So overused. But there is truth in it.

Travel for me starts as soon as I leave the house. Whether it’s sitting in the car on the highway, waiting in the train station, or sitting at the airport.

Liege guillemins train station abstract
One of the prettiest train stations in the world: Liege-Guillemins

Yet by airplane, it’s going into the airport as late as possible and trying to sleep or game the flight away. Mostly crammed into a small seat. A tall guy here!

By car, it’s much more fun. Often you sit with someone you like. So conversing and catching up is the main use of your time. It also allows you to improvise and be spontaneous.

“Let’s stop at the Belvedere.” “Urgh, it’s hot; let’s find a river.” Or even just playing football and stretching your legs on a parking lot for a couple of minutes.

Fons faking a shot for the camera

Airplane travel is rigid, scheduled, and A-to-B. In short, it’s ridiculous. It’s not traveling. It’s transportation.

So even more than before, I will do my best to travel more by other transport modes.

Like road trips with friends, city trips by train, and trips anywhere by (cargo)ship.

It’s funny how writing something down makes you aware of how clear or unhinged your thoughts are. This ‘rant’ was definitely a bit unhinged. But I hope it came across as neither black nor white.

I don’t hate the airplane industry. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to make lovely trips to Botswana, for example. Yet, their services are overused.

Anyhow, this is just my opinion. Agree or disagree with it as much as you like. That’s the beauty of our society. We don’t have to agree to be friends. We have to accept and try to understand each other.

I think we all agree in looking forward to traveling after this corona-pandemic.

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