It’s the second year of the pandemic, and it seems that with vaccines, there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel – but does it mean that freedom to travel is now fully back, and what are some of the ADV lessons learned from 2020 and lockdowns? Having managed to stay on the road throughout 2020, albeit with delays and a multitude of plan changes, here is what 2020 has taught me moving forward:
Freedom Is Precious
It only took a couple of months in quarantine and total lockdown to start truly appreciating the freedom to travel we’ve had before the pandemic. Perspective is a huge thing, and lockdowns have taught us all just how precious freedom is, how quickly it can be taken away, and for me personally, how grateful I am to have been able to travel freely before. And it’s not just pandemic-related: being stuck really hammers it home just how privileged we are with our Western passports that open doors around the world, the resources and the bikes at our disposal, the luxury to choose whatever lifestyle we want, and the ability to move around the world with few obstacles. Pandemic or no pandemic, one of the biggest lessons learned from 2020 is gratitude.
2. When There Is a Will, There Is a Way
To this day, international travel isn’t what it used to be; PCR tests to cross every border, mandatory isolation in some countries, land border closures – all of that is still a reality, and riding around the world now is a little more difficult than it was before 2020. Still, it is possible, as long as you’re up to date with border information, COVID tests, and lots of flexibility to change plans last minute – or, better yet, stop planning altogether and simply go with the flow. Travel is now slower, there’s more paperwork and more responsibility, and you can never be sure whether your destination country is going to let you in – but with patience and a little creativity, riding around the world is still an option.
3. Responsible Travel
That being said, 2020 has made us all pause and think just how responsible it is to travel, especially to more remote places where you may be bringing the virus to smaller, more isolated communities. And if we now think twice before deciding on a destination, perhaps it’s a good time to think about the impact of travel on local communities in general, not just in terms of the pandemic. Are we always gracious guests? What do we bring to the table, besides a little income to the locals? Overcrowding and overtourism issues aside, as overlanders and adventure riders, can we positively impact the local communities, and what are some of the ways to give back?
4. The Balance of Uncertainty
As motorcycle travelers, we deal with varying degrees of uncertainty on a daily basis. Things like finding a place to sleep, the possibility of a landslide or a closed border, the chances of flat tires or breakdowns, fuel availability – on the road, so many things are uncertain, and we learn to deal with it along the way. The pandemic has significantly added to this uncertainty: which land borders are going to remain closed, will we need vaccine passports to move about freely, are there going to be more lockdowns, what are the safe destinations around the world? The old sentiment that “the only certainty is that nothing is ever certain” is now more true than ever, and managing all this precariousness on the road is now harder than ever.
5. The Art of Letting Go
One of the biggest lessons learned in 2020 is that to maintain some level of sanity and hope, letting go may be the best policy. With so much uncertainty all around, the need to cling to some illusion of control is huge, but, at least for me, what works better is the exact opposite. The more I tried to control things – make plans, stubbornly cling to old ideas – the more it all backfired until I accepted that it’s wiser to stop fighting and embrace the zen. As they say, “relax, nothing is under control”: it may be terrifying, but strangely, it’s also incredibly liberating.
6. The Plan B
I was never one for plans B, C, and D; taking every day as it came, I rarely planned more than 6 months ahead, and while it sometimes backfired, it worked for me. Now, having experienced what it’s like to have your freedom of movement taken away and staying put under total lockdowns, it’s clear that some sort of a plan B may, after all, be a good thing to have. A little bit of savings, an option to ride locally, a project bike build, a new book to write – a big lesson learned from 2020 is to never put all of your eggs in one basket, because if the ADV, Indefinitely-On-The-Road basket is busted, what’s left?
What are some of your biggest lessons learned from 2020? Share in the comments below!