Looking Ahead to Restarting Travel—and a Brighter Future

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If you’re like me, you’ve been crossing your fingers and praying that the new year will be better than the one we’ve just survived. Of course that begins with defeating the coronavirus and protecting human life. But here are a couple of other ways I’m hoping 2021 can be an improvement on 2020. Number one, I’m hoping we can get back to exploring the four corners of the earth. And number two, I’m hoping we can be a little kinder to one another, no matter how much we might disagree.

Number one and number two are connected. We completed this issue near the end of a year marked not just by the pandemic but also by even more rancor than usual, culminating in the contentious election that took place just as we were putting the magazine to bed. It was a reminder that travel leads us naturally to people who live totally different lives from ours, who have different opinions, different priorities, different belief systems. Travel teaches us that such differences are worthy of celebration. Those are learnings we’d all be wise to take home with us.

This is why you’ll find the following pages full of stories about communities: the female bakers of Paris, the creative class in Costa Rica, beach lovers in Sydney, artisans in the Yucátan and Mallorca, and sustainability pioneers in the ski regions of America as well as the Swedish city of Gothenberg. Meeting people like these and inhabiting their world for a little while is also an invitation to build a spirit of community in the place where you spend your everyday, non-travel life.

In October, just before the election, I interviewed Sara Nelson, a United Airlines flight attendant and the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, about the election, the coronavirus, and the future of her industry. She was worried about a lot of things, naturally, but people’s desire to get back out there again wasn’t one of them.

“I believe very strongly that travel is going to have a big comeback,” she told me. “People are going to be ready to go, they’re going to want to see each other. The virtual meetings have connected people in a new way, but what we have noticed in the industry is that the more people are connected by technology, the more they want to travel, the more they want to be together.” Here’s to being together in person in 2021—all over this beautiful planet.

This article appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Subscribe to the magazine here.

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