A time to reflect on travel

For those of you who regularly follow along on here, you’ll perhaps be surprised to hear that there’s still very few people talking about faith and travel. Although we’ve had the rise of the Christian Travelers’ Network from the States, the River Communities worldwide, and other smaller groups across the globe, the conversation as it stands, hasn’t progressed a huge amount yet.

With Covid19, does it really matter?

That’s a question I’ve been given a few times in rhetorical form recently, with people stating that travel does not matter at all, and that such pandemics focus us on what really matters. But with all due respect to those ‘asking the question’, I want to propose that it does indeed matter. And it matters a lot.

Yes, Covid19 would take away travel for a few months, but already countries have opened up their borders again, yearning for economic freedom via tourism. Already, thousands have been counting down the days til they could book flights again (days which have now past, with many having booked their first trips already). And already, measures to circumnavigate the Covid restrictions, have been thought about ten times over. Travel is not disappearing for now, even if many travel companies and airlines, went under. New ones will soon pop up to replace them.

In fact, until collective responsibility for things like the environment, sing sweeter songs than the freedom of individualism, I could imagine that the dream of travel will always remain with us. What a 3 month break did, was allow the traveller some time to regroup, reflect on past travel experiences, and tweak the plan for the journey ahead. For if Alain de Botton is to be believed, part of the travel experience is heightened, by the suspense of the build-up to it, not to mention the kindling of the fond memories of past trips, reminiscing of great days.

The traveller’s delight is not just in feeling the warm rays hitting our skin as we lie in pools of Caribbean sun, but in finding ourselves again loitering in such places, long after we have left, still seemingly enjoying the same rays conjured up by nothing more than the longing heart resting again on an Instagram photo, a firmly lodged memory or a sensual experience brought back up from deep within us where we hide our pleasurable moments we don’t want to release.

So it was with great joy that I found two Australians realising that this is precisely the time we must talk about travel, while we are in a time of reflection, analysing and planning. In fact, there is no better time, before our travel pulses start to beat at an uncontrollable rate, leading us to take off again across borders and boundaries.

“This is precisely the time we must talk about travel”

And in most situations that I’m heavily invested, most topics which my emotions are aroused and most times in life when I’m going through something evocative, I’m not in a good place to take a step back and see things through an accurate lens of whether it is doing me any good, or whether I indeed am falling far short of what I was called to be or do. I’m too invested in certain outcomes.

And so despite the yearnings for travel of this Covid season, and despite the warm fondness in which I scroll Instagram, I still think it is this season that will allow us talk about travel in a far more constructive way than before.

  • How will we re-build the travel industry in healthier forms?
  • How can we make countries less dependent on our (somewhat colonial) travel?
  • How can we make the most of travel, in God’s eyes?
  • Are there sweeter songs we can dance to, than the travel songbook can provide alone?
  • Are there patterns of life or of our hearts, that the last 3 months have challenged or revealed?

[These two other Christians in Australia who I mentioned, joined in engaging with the topic of travel during these days. They too, saw no better time than the present to open up our hearts and see what we’re missing out on. Catch Michael Jensen (Anglican) and Megan Powell Du Toit (Baptist) on the “With All due Respect” podcast here, interviewing SMBC lecturer Stephen Liggins about the topic here.]

Fancy using these next months to think about travel?

As someone who has travelled into a different culture on a gap year, I can really relate to the book. It would have been helpful to have read it before going to Uganda and I would recommend it for anyone going on a similar trip.

Oscar, recent graduate from Ireland

Why not check out ‘Travel: in tandem with God’s Heart‘? And if you want to have a chance of getting a free copy soon, follow me on Twitter or Instagram or IVP Books on Facebook where I’ll have a give-away soon. You can also see an interview with me on IVP’s page on July 29th, as we celebrate the opening of Ireland to travel, following on from the virus season.

2 thoughts on “A time to reflect on travel

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