It started with an email.
“Dear Valued Passenger,
THAI Smile Flight WE577 departing from Luang Prabang (LPQ) to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) travelling between 29 March 2020 to 24 October 2020 has unfortunately been cancelled. In the event of flight cancellation, you may choose from the following options that best suit your convenience…”
Calls followed. Later, more emails ensued. Then, the cyclone of stress loomed – checking flight transfers, rebooking hotels, waiting for confirmation, reading cancellation policies, changing itineraries, waiting some more – threatening to rob the joy of travel. I was left tetchy on most days, having bounced from frustrations of work to irritations of travel, all of which stemmed from extenuating circumstances surrounding COVID-19.
Lunch with a friend on a Friday afternoon flipped my mood on its head. His words sunk deep and I pondered on them the day after, alone in the safety of my room and away from the ambient chatter of a packed eatery.
Having life as we know it, our normality, abruptly interrupted without warning will take a toll on just about anyone. It is an unprecedented time, disrupting industries and affecting millions. Taking a step back from the hurricane enabled me to look at the situation from a different vantage point.
For instance, customer service coordinating across various departments and airlines; reservation managers telling me not to worry and to stay safe; restaurant owners and chefs volunteering to help others while also needing help, and so much more. What I then saw was a rallying call across industries – doing everything they can in uncharted territory to ensure people’s needs are met – hospitality and service at its purest and finest. In simpler words, I needed to get over myself.
Maybe, one of our greatest revelations during this delicate time should be about our connectedness – how wonderful would it be that instead of why, we would ask how; instead of your, we would say our; instead of assigning blame, we would assign help; instead of sharing fear, we would share faith; instead of pointing fingers, we would stretch hands; instead of wanting more, we would need less; instead of being weighed by despair, we would be buoyed by hope; instead of outward noise, we would hear inward peace – that life would never be the same but that is all right, because we are in this together and we would figure it out together.
The paradigm shift in the global voice from the individual “me” to the collective “us”, from the singular “I” to the plural “our” exemplified what humanity should have always looked like and what the future of travel can be: bright, inclusive, kind.
If all else fails, remember gratitude. It is potent and powerful. In the waiting, look back on the places we have been, not with aching sadness, but with fervent fondness. Focus on all the things we do have – time to slow down, space to think, and capacity to love. Learn more in our How to be a Better Traveler in 2020.