Like millions of people, I’m waiting anxiously to see if I’ll be able to go ahead with my travel plans this spring. COVID-19 has turned the world of travel upside down, with Italy one of the hardest-hit regions in the world. As of right now (and realizing things could change overnight), my intention is to bring lots of hand sanitizer and go ahead with our trip to Rome and Sicily in late April—if there are no flight bans in place, obviously.
This looming threat to my ability to travel has made me hyper-aware of that other looming threat we all face: time.
If we live long enough, we’ll all reach a point where it’s no longer possible to hop on a plane and travel the world. Italy’s endless stairs, out-of-service elevators, bumpy cobblestones, and tiny shower stalls present a particular challenge for the elderly and those who have mobility issues. Things that are now mere inconveniences—enduring overseas flights in uncomfortable seats and hauling luggage around airports and train stations, for example—are likely to become impossibilities for many of us at some point. With careers wrapped up and families raised, we’ll “have time” to travel—but it will be too late.
And this is only if we’re lucky enough to get really old. Like COVID-19, the vicissitudes of life—accidents, debilitating diseases, random misfortunes—typically don’t announce themselves in advance so that we can prepare for them.
On a more dystopian note, borders may close and travel may be prohibited for even darker reasons—possibly reasons related to COVID-19, or to another virus in the future. Tensions created by the inevitable economic fallout of a global pandemic may have worst-case scenario consequences. If nothing else, the severe disruption to daily “first world” life caused by COVID-19 drives home the point that we can never take anything for granted.
When this whole COVID-19 thing finally blows over, if you have the desire and the ability to travel, don’t wait. Carpe f***ing diem. Seize the day. Seize it while you can.
Book the time off work. Negotiate with your employer for extra time—even if it means forfeiting some of your salary. Money, unlike time, is a renewable resource. Take the kids out of school and travel during the off-season so that you have a more affordable and comfortable trip. Or don’t: go ahead and take the kids to Italy in July or August if that’s the only time you can go; there are plenty of ways to beat the heat and the crowds. Spend less money keeping up with the Joneses, and more money getting away from the rat race and exploring the world.
While you can.