Yesterday, we made the painful decision to cancel our trip to Australia. After nearly 3 years in the planning, and in the grip of fear of the spread of the coronavirus, the Australian government declared the necessity of quarantining new arrivals for 14 days which would make our trip completely impractical. Even if we were to sit the quarantine out, the writing is on the wall of complete lockdown for all other events in the ensuing weeks.
I had been looking forward to one of our first trips since giving birth last year and to really testing out 'baby in a backpack' with a pre-schooler and soon-to-be-toddler. I had definitely been having anxious thoughts about entertaining the said little ones for such a long journey but we were generally excited and raring to go. But the inevitability of the situation meant that we felt it necessary to cancel.
But I’m grateful that this enforced lockdown period is helping us all to evaluate what’s important in life. My husband and I were already making steps towards limiting our carbon footprint and thinking through what it would mean to be ‘global, yet local’ and this new situation is indeed calling into question the values and life choices that we make on a daily basis. Having been born and brought up in Hong Kong, and having had the privilege to have travelled to over 50 countries, it is important to me that my own children benefit from a global perspective and develop a confidence and comfort in being in new places and learning from others. And with the rise in nationalism and increasing xenophobia in the world, I am determined to keep opening my mind, heart and thought to others. But with the rapid onset of climate change, I had been wondering what we need to do to express the spirit of adventure in a way that respects our climate. Coronavirus notwithstanding, here are some steps we had already been thinking through:
There is already much evidence and conversation circulating the internet about the impact that the enforced lockdown is having on our climate, with clear skies in China, and a return to the appreciation of nature and the great outdoors as people look for alternatives to cooped-up city living whilst still 'physical distancing'. And it is heartening to consider how this period of battening down the hatches and staying in the moment with more simple life pleasures could help us transform our ideas about what is truly necessary in life.
So, I for one, will welcome the opportunity to do some armchair travel in the coming months, reading books, exploring the garden and surrounding woods with my little ones, and opening my thought to what ‘adventures’ there are to be had in my mind. Baby in a backpack has always been metaphorical, not just literal, and, whilst I hope we won’t be packing away the suitcases for ever, I look forward to a reframing of what true adventure means!
Mum, stepmum and honorary foster mum. Passionate about fulfilling the potential of all the world's children - both big and little. Serial entrepreneur and life traveller now living in Paris. www.carolinewatson.org