Photo by Luz Rimban
Who would have thought that in the year 2022 A.C (after Covid or more precisely, after Covid vaccine), I would join the big global convulsion of people breaking free from the chains of indoor-boundedness, rushing out everywhere in what has been called revenge travel?
Who would have thought that I would be flying to three continents in a span of four months? Sure, the first one being work-related was more or less a foregone conclusion. The next one was a planned vacation that teetered between being a go and no-go. And the last was a surprise invitation that would allow me to combine work and play. But because of Covid, and the possibility of surges in the places of origin and destination and the consequent health restrictions, I treated all of these trips like hazy visions that might or might not be there, like images in the horizon on an overcast day. All of a sudden the images were high-definition clear and upon me, and now, months later, already behind me.
What was the post-Covid world like? Crowded, for one. So many people seemed bent on recovering time stolen by Covid, especially toward the summer. Airport queues were long, flights were full. In Europe, people were downplaying health restrictions with the view that it was now just another form of the flu. They were returning to old habits. They did away with masks and social distancing. In the U.S., restrictions were being relaxed with masks mostly worn indoors.
Asia tended to follow suit, but since health insurance was not as prevalent as in the West, Asians tended to be more careful. Many Asians took the stand that they would continue wearing face masks, despite the lifting of restrictions. They didn’t want to take any chances. True enough, just letting your guard down was an invitation for the SARS virus to come in, which did happen to me in Europe (more on that in a separate post). A friend asked me about the wisdom of Western, especially Scandinavian countries, removing all Covid restrictions long before everyone else, and I said they had some form of health insurance/health safety nets that we in the Philippines do not.
I discovered through their social media posts that quite a number of friends and relatives decided to fly out too. Organizations held activities in some of the same local and foreign venues that were offering tour packages, and people were congregating in numbers again, the only drawback being the skyrocketing airfares in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting high cost of fuel.
But going back to post-Covid travel, I didn’t seem to have learned my lesson, packing-wise for Sweden and back. I overpacked on clothes (mainly because it was spring but we were told to expect that temperatures would dip so bring warm outerwear) and then found I didn’t have enough space for the things I brought home with me, including work-related materials. It’s a difficult lesson to keep re-learning. I tried placing the extra stuff in a big eco-bag, but it was so unwieldy that at the stopover, I decided to buy new luggage. Problem solved.