• Sheila Sousa


I am currently reading a book about quests. Yeah you read it right, the type you’d imagine Indian Jones would go on, but maybe less deadly! The book is about personal quests, like knitting 10,000 hats or running all world marathons, and was given to me by my brother when I was feeling a little bit down and lacking in goals. The writer undertook his quest by visiting every country in the world (the official 194 countries on Wikipedia before 2011) and as I love the idea of travelling, learning about different cultures, especially those that are different to mine and learn their history it was the perfect gift. I hope to one day go on my own quest and hopefully learn about myself and how different cultures and histories influence what is important in life. Did you know that Bhutan measures the country’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) as an alternative indicator to GDP as a tool to measure progress or development?

With the introduction of lockdowns and stay at home recommendations due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry was brought to its knees and suffered major losses. And most of us were limited to travelling to the supermarket (to fight for the ever-popular toilet paper).

Fortunately, with the rollout of the vaccine there is light at the end of the tunnel. So below are few of the points we thought you should consider when planning your next trip.

Visit your own country

The first opportunities we will have will likely be within our own country. This may seem limited, but I think we should embrace it. We will help our businesses back to health, we will support our hospitality and transport industries, and above all we will be supporting the small business in our own communities who suffered so much from the national and international travel restrictions. I find we usually overlook the country where we live as a travel destination, but I am sure if we keep our mind open, we will find one that will touch our soul.

Visit foreign countries

When we are finally able and confident to travel aboard, not afraid of a country entering a red list and having to dash back home, the world will be our oyster again! I for one am looking forward to this day.

There are a few things I hope we are all mindful of:

- Countries around the world are at different levels of combating the pandemic. The vaccines seem to drastically lower infection rates and protect against severe illness, but it is not fully known if you will not be able to infect others. As such, when travelling to other countries, be mindful that you may be protected but others may not.

- Be respectful of the culture, religion, tradition, and history of the countries you visit. Be open minded, and follow local rules, i.e. if you are in country where people traditionally cover their shoulders when they enter religious buildings, follow the locals.

- Talk to locals and learn a few words in the local language.

- Try every local food! No, really. Travelling is about experiencing everything.

- Contribute to the local economy. Especially if you are going to a poorer country. If you think a price is fair, don’t try and haggle it down just because you know they are desperate to sell. Go to restaurants, bars and shops owned by locals as they will have been the hardest hit by the pandemic. Additionally, you will get the real experience of the country and its people.

- Be mindful of nature and the environment and follow rules to avoid accident or damage to monuments, local fauna or flora. Try to have the least environmental impact as possible.

- Take the time to learn about where you are going and visit places that will enrich your life. And while you are doing that, give something back. A smile, a compliment, dance with the locals, offer and mean to meet up if they ever visit your country.

- And above all enjoy every moment, every sunrise and sunset and everything in between. Memories are priceless – enjoy and take it all in.

I hope you are as excited as I am about the ability to travel again. I am already considering where to go next, and how I will complete my quest to travel to every official country (currently 195). And I hope you discover yourself, or adventure, or anything you are looking for as you do it!

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