Back in 2019, I spoke about what I learnt from travelling around Asia, and then what I learnt around travelling to the south of France.
I love traveling and experiencing new places. This love is a relatively new endeavour, but it is one I will cherish for the rest of my life. Ever since I visited the Pathenon for the first time, I realised that travel does not just have to be about beaches and warmth (although both of those things are lovely, especially when coming from a some what dreary cough-inducing wet England). It can be about museums, photos of relics and ruins, hundreds of writing notes scribbled hurriedly on an aeroplane folding table whilst watching the world pass beneath your feet.
It’s a privileged place, to be able to travel. It’s something I reflect upon every time we organise for a trip to see a new part of the world. And as such, travelling for me is a lesson in respect and humility. Its understanding why you can do this, it’s leaving nothing but footprints and good wishes, and its cherishing the world and each location for it’s unique beauty and culture.
However, this last year has been the year of No Travel. Not even the travel on holiday, but travel to friends houses, to family, to work. The daily commute has defined my life ever since university, and to have the opportunity to not go anywhere is somewhat of a novelty.
So, here are the lessons I’ve learnt from my year of (not) travelling:
The world is a very small place
I think one thing we can all take away from the last year is just how small the world really is. How “the other side of the world” is really not that far away. How common we are in our humanity, and how little really differentiates humans across the planet.
You don’t have to travel to write stories
One aspect of travel for me was that it would kick-start the inspiration for my stories. Sure, it wasn’t the purpose of travel, but a happy side effect. I think it took me the first car ride from the airport in Malaysia to re-plot my novel once I had experienced what a real tropical climate felt like (the thunderstorms were absolutely awe-inspiring).
But saying that, the internet is your friend. Without travel to experience first-hand a different environment, I’ve been relying on research instead. In fact, the research I’ve done has given me the opportunity not only to teach myself a little geography, but also understand more about the cultures and history of the places that I’ve visited in much more depth that I could take in over a two week excursion.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your stories, sometimes you don’t have to go to the other side of the world. You can find it on your doorstep.
Home is beautiful too
It also made me realise just how lovely home is. I live in the countryside, a place that normally is traversed through via motorways to and from work, or a place that I only see on the weekends. But since being at home for the better part of a year, I get to see more of the world around my home. I’m making an effort to not take the local wildlife and the local points of interest for granted anymore.
Travel is great, but (not) travelling is great too
Time is precious, and travelling the world and experiencing the world is one way to enrich the time you have. But not travelling, not commuting, not spending time on moving from place to place also opens up new creative avenues. It can give you space for quiet reflection and new determination, which sometimes is all you need to create.
Alex.J.Cobalt is a fantasy writer from the UK. When she’s not working away at her fantasy novel series, she posts free flash fictions on her website, along with regular blogs about writing.
Featured image by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash