The Australian author Anthony Sharwood once said, “We are drawn to a thing called wilderness, but reject its key element, which is wildness.”
Perhaps the world has irreversibly changed in more ways than we could have ever imagined. Booking a holiday or adventure once felt easy in the world we live in not so long ago, we could watch, read and virtually experience everything before we even left to the airport. Our decisions were made for us as we got dropped into a pipeline based on our desired travel outcomes. Few people pioneered as the masses followed, classic ‘must-see’ hotspots became overcrowded, islands overhauled, and cities brought to standstills. There were lines on remote mountain-tops to get the same Instagram frame that everyone else had and restaurants booked out days and months in advance because they went viral on TikTok.
The internet makes us feel like we’ve got everything all planned out, but what if this global halt of the travelling conveyer belt was exactly what we all needed. When the world re-opens, and we get to leave our bubbles of comfort and ease, we’ll have to make decisions for ourselves again.
In a world that has been shaken up with new rules and endless guidelines about how we should spaciously interact and been given guidelines of what to wear and where to go, we are eventually going to experience a world that hasn’t yet been navigated in its new state. This isn’t something to be scared of. True excitement arises from the discoveries we make on our own and the choices that we took a gamble on without knowing the end result. We’ve been handed a golden ticket to slow down and analyse what really matters. This time has been a gift to research places that we want to go to because our heart truly desires it. Without a doubt, many of us were ‘meant to be somewhere’, ‘working on this’, or ‘doing that’ this year. We’ve all heard these phrases on repeat this year, and I’m sure there were instantly things that sprung to mind as you read that sentence.
Our feet have been grounded temporarily, and our values have shifted. The future of travel relies on us going places that hold true to these updated values we now hold.
It’s now been one year since I visited Papua New Guinea for the first time. I remember those three weeks in PNG fondly, and upon reflection, it has become one of my favourite trips ever. I was lucky enough to extensively explore the country and travel in a way that will make me question of how I choose to plan and actual my future travels. Overarching highlights include summiting Mt. Wilhelm (4509m) in unexpected freezing conditions, crossing precarious bridges in the care of my guides on the Kokoda Track and diving on vibrant reefs in Walindi. I could reel off highlight after highlight, but that would be contradictory to my earlier words. Instead, I hope to impart my learned wisdom and lessons from my time in PNG and why you should consider travelling to PNG or somewhere like it in the future.
It’s more fun to be the only one.
You don’t need to follow the masses, and the mass markets don’t need you. I mean that in the kindest way possible. I want you to have the best adventure possible. Take diving in Walindi, for example. We were the only dive boat in the water as far as the eye could see, in every direction possible. If water is your jam, you’re going to have a lot more fun being the only dive boat in the water, as opposed to competing with 70 others. Just as the reef looks happier, so will the smile on your dive buddies face.
Have a look just outside your own backyard.
I understand that when the time comes that you probably want to spread your wings and go as far away as you can but spending an extra 15 hours one way in a plane to get to the other side of the world isn’t all that necessary. Other-worldly experiences are waiting just outside your own backyard. The forests that we trekked through on Kokoda blew my mind; who knew they were only a 2-hour flight away from Australia.
Who you travel with matters.
I’m not talking about your best friend or your partner, and they’re golden already. Take the time to research and look into who will be leading your tours and adventures. It’s important to ask questions such as;
– Are they local?
– Will I be supporting the communities around the adventures I partake in?
– Can I give back to those that upkeep and make my travel accessible?
Having the right people around will multiply the quality of your experience, and there’s a good chance you’ll multiply the quality of their lives in return too.
The “one-percenters” mindset
Don’t be afraid to put in that extra bit of effort with your research or go that little bit further on your walk as you explore a new part of the world. Keep an open-mind, smile lots and appreciate the little things. These moments although unassuming at the time will be some of your most cherished. Covering myself in mud and then jumping in volcanically warmed hot-springs is an example of this for me.
Even if it’s not fun at the moment, you’ll still have fun.
Uncomfortable drives, gruelling hours climbing mud staircases etched away from the hikers before you or hours upon hours in the hot sun might not be the glamorous visions of fun you hold in your mind. However, it’s these moments which push you outside of your comfort that make you later realise that this is exactly what you needed. Exploring the wild demands you to present a version of yourself you didn’t know existed. Not only do you get to be a tourist in a foreign country, but you also get to be a tourist in your new state of being. Memories made whilst going through the motions won’t stick the ones you made when you weren’t having ‘fun’. The fun will always be interpreted differently by each individual, but it’s worth pushing your own boundaries from time to time to see what you can get away with.
As you re-enter the wilderness of the world, remember to travel consciously and act slowly. Now is the time to write the script exactly how you want it to be read, so go out and explore and promise me you’ll do it a little differently this time around.