Following the cancellation of numerous travel plans, from au-pairing in Austria, to inter-railing around 10 different countries, I turned to my home soil of the United Kingdom to satiate my desire to see the world, or at least a small part of it. With COVID bringing a halt to almost all international travel, the notion of the ‘staycation’ came to fruition.
As trains seem to cost more and more, compared to the ever-cheap plane fare of budget lines such as Ryanair, travel for me became almost synonymous with going to new foreign countries, with different languages and cultures, particularly as a student of Modern Foreign Languages. Only when forced to (not) look elsewhere, did my appreciation for the variety and beauty within the UK increase. The position of privilege that this comes from, naturally, must be acknowledged, as I know many have never been able to travel abroad, with or without COVID.
Of course, I would visit places in the UK as a child, of which I have fond memories, but the real appeal lay in the early mornings, going through airport security, waiting eagerly as the flight began to descend and being hit by the smell of warm air as the flight attendants flung the aeroplane door open. Yet, in order to remain safe and follow guidelines of both UK government and that of any country you may seek to travel to, this was put on hold.
Over the course of the year, when restrictions allowed, I instead became a tourist of my own country, visiting places such as Bath, Liverpool, Edinburgh, North Wales and more. As opposed to using money I’d saved for foreign travel, which would have been spent in another currency, I put it towards sightseeing in places where I wouldn’t need a passport. Visiting museums and galleries, seeing sights of significance (such as Stone Henge, which somehow, I’d only seen this summer), buying ice creams and trying out new restaurants were all on the agenda.
All that being said, the first flight abroad in which I won’t have to worry about PCR tests, travel clearance, social distancing, and all those other buzzwords that have preoccupied those with a heavy dose of wanderlust, is long overdue. However, I can’t deny that my perspective of my native country has changed for the better, and I am excited to continue to explore that which is closer to my doorstep, even with the option to travel abroad on the table.
Second Year Modern Languages student of Italian and German.