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OBUNGA: My post-pandemic bucket list

Thursday May 21 2020

What will be the first thing you do after travel restrictions are eased? PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

What will be the first thing you do after travel restrictions are eased? PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OCHIENG’ OBUNGA

What will be the first thing you do after travel restrictions are eased? My brother asked me this question last night on a phone call.

My answer was simple. I will take the available bus and head home. Sometimes I even think that looking forward to that day keeps me sane.

I have actually kept count of the lockdown days since the President announced the extension. And I had done the same for the first one.

While my case is only that of wanting to go home, enthusiastic travellers are wondering what travel would be like after the pandemic.

These are people who had planned for trips and faced disappointments when the pandemic set in as they had to reschedule.

One of the most obvious things about traveling after countries will have eased travel restrictions will be overall change in travel behaviour and introduction of stricter guidelines. Most likely, only essential travel will resume first.

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SOCIAL DISTANCING NORMAL

With social distancing and sanitisation becoming part of a new normal, for instance, it will not be a surprise if someone seated next to you on a bus or plane has a mask across his or her face even after the pandemic is gone.

If ever, because the World Health Organisation thinks it’s here to stay.

It will be taken as normal should someone after stepping out of the bus or plane take out a hand sanitiser and spray on his or her hands. Perhaps a more curious one will be how people treat each other.

When the pandemic was just setting in, there had been stigmatisation that the Chinese faced. Newsrooms reported cases of people taking off when a Chinese coughed near them.

And then it stretched to anyone who sneezed. Health and wellness will become a top priority.

People will be cautious not to hit the road when they have a cold for instance.

We will probably want to find ways of keeping such reminders of the pandemic out of the mind.

TOUGHER CHANGES

Then there are other tougher changes predicted such as producing certificates of immunity and validation of travel at the immigration, restrictions of travel to certain countries, establishment of travel seasons, limited long distance travels and rise in costs of travel among others.

Even though these are only predictions and nobody can be sure yet, as even the pandemic’s end remains unpredictable, it is safe to come up with realistic expectations.

Even in anticipation for a better future, unrealistic plans might only add onto the already build-up anxiety when disappointments come in the form of lockdown extensions or border closures or stricter travel rules that might lock others out.

My plan is so simple it depends on the lockdown only and the one thing I am saving for is a bicycle, not an air ticket nor safari booking. My plan has two items.

The first item is to get home, the village.

ROAD TRIP

Once home, I have only one item remaining on my ‘to do’ list; to go on a road trip.

This will be my way of recovering from the anxiety and distress that I have faced while staying indoors, and knowing that I had missed going home by an inch.

I will buy a bicycle and spend days discovering my county, enjoying the cool outdoor air away from other people, where I can sneeze when an insect goes into my nostrils without having to look around for people’s reactions.

I will not want to go on the trip in a car because my concern is not covering distances but having contact with nature. Plus, it will mean extra expenditures, yet I am not saving for such additional expenses.

On this trip, I will opt to try and explore as many places I have not been to as possible—climb hills, go to the rarely visited beaches along the lake, and ride deep into the villages. I won’t include public parks or museums or any other popular sites because I don’t want someone to limit the time I spend at a place.

While on the road alone or with a partner, I will not have to worry about social distancing and the fear surrounding it. In fact, on this trip I won’t anticipate to find crowds on whatever sites I choose to spend a morning or an afternoon at. My bicycle road trip will also be my way of exercising physically as I am hardly doing any while indoors.

In the meantime, as I wait for my adventure and the nourishment from nature that I so much look forward to, my concern now is remaining positive, staying sane, calm and safe, and I advise that you do the same, wherever you are (especially those in lockdown regions).

 

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