The other day I was flipping through the 2019 Monocle Travel Guide and was suddenly hit with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. As I went from “best spots in Amsterdam” to “must-sees in Madrid,” I realized that life pre-COVID, the freedoms and access to the whole world we once took for granted, were not so much a matter of here or there. Rather, the delicious abundance of endless choice was suddenly snatched away. A buffet that turned into an ultimatum with no choice.
For the past decade, work and life have led me to travel constantly. It became my way of life to the point that airports would fill me with a sense of reassuring anticipation. Many years spent as a travel writer started me on this path to everywhere. This is supposed to be a travel column, but that all changed in 2020.
There are still moments when in mid-conversation with friends, someone suddenly exclaims, “Can you believe this worldwide pandemic is really happening to us?” followed by incredulous looks and shaking heads.
As we often sit and lament on how 2020 is the ultimate annus horribilis with memes both hilarious and depressing about how things can’t possibly get any worse, I still manage to also view 2020 as the year a crisis revealed our humanitarian side.
People came together heroically to save lives, provide support both materially and morally. Most of us rediscovered the beauty and need for family and friends. The term “COVID family” or “COVID bubble” connoting both inclusion and exclusion simultaneously, but comforting to have nevertheless.
As my more daring friends managed to skip a total lifestyle change, landing themselves at the last minute at whatever country was not under lockdown for the first time in so many years, I committed to staying still.
The moment local travel opened up, I was so thankful to be able to step foot on our beautiful beaches. I’m already visualizing the upcoming Christmas holidays on a sandy spot, and while I’m at it, compiling a bucket list of post-COVID destinations—a favorite topic of 2020 conversations.
It’s free to dream! And dreams of beautiful destinations kept me inspired to look forward to a better future in 2021. Here I share my “dreamscapes,” including our very own beautiful Philippines, some of which we are lucky enough to be able to experience as early as now.