Last week, I was traveling to the US to meet some of my friends, which was my first post-pandemic international trip1. It was simply awesome, and the experience has strongly amplified my traveler identity. Even though I already restarted enjoying domestic travels, international ones are still a lot different in terms of the experience we can gain and people we can meet with. Speaking of travel restrictions, as of writing, entering the US by air requires a pre-flight COVID test regardless of vaccination status, whereas entering Canada has no restriction as long as you are fully vaccinated.
Here is what I thought throughout the trip, so I don't lose the fresh feeling.
Importance of real human interaction. I'm fortunate enough as I have several good friends in the US who give me a warm welcome, and the past week was full of face-to-face communications thanks to all of them. During the pandemic, we realized how valuable it is, and we finally became able to make that happen again. In particular, since I'm psychologically in a tough situation lately, every single moment meeting with someone I like/respect was literally a relief. I'll definitely come back more often because one week was too short to meet with everyone I wanted to talk to.
Consider this trip can be the last. Even though the travel restrictions started being lifted in many countries, we don't know how long it will last. Therefore, I kept thinking "This can be the last chance to visit this place/meet with this person," and with that in mind, I spent the time more consciously during the visit. By contrast, when I was traveling around the world for business before the pandemic, I didn't know how fortunate I am, and I feel I was disrespectful to the fact. Sounds too pessimistic and sensitive? That's my way of thinking—Being pessimistic in the short term while being optimistic about an eventual consequence in the long run. I want to be the person who doesn't lose the mindset moving forward.
I came to love Vancouver even more. When I travel, I like thinking "What if I live in this city?" While walking, running, dining, and talking, I try to see the place through the lens of local people. This time, although the US cities are beautiful, I also realized how lovely Greater Vancouver area, where I currently live, is; since it's my first international travel after relocating to Canada, it was a great opportunity to step out and objectively see the place. Vancouver's unique balance between urban and nature life is irreplaceable, and I can't see any other cities as a place to reside. After landing at YVR, I definitely had a sense that I came back to my "home".
Overall, traveling internationally after 2 years of silence brought me a lot of emotions that I had almost forgotten. I'm simply excited about how I can "restart" my life from this point of time.
Note that, as I partially mentioned in "How Much CO2 Emissions Have Your Flights Made?," there is a negative side of traveling—Overtourism—not just for the environment but for global sustainability at large. I think it's time for all of us to rethink how a new way of tourism should be.
1. Well, I flew internationally from Japan to Canada in Feb 2021 for relocation, but there wasn't a return flight for the "trip". Also, some people may not see the Canada-US trip as a real international one thanks to how convenient entering/returning is, but we are definitely crossing the border. ↩
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Last updated: 2022-09-02
Author: Takuya Kitazawa
Takuya Kitazawa is a freelance software developer, minimalistic traveler, ultralight hiker & runner, and craft beer enthusiast. While my area of specialty is in data & AI ethics and machine learning productization, I have worked full-stack throughout the career e.g., as a frontend/backend engineer, OSS developer, technical evangelist, solution architect, data scientist, and product manager. You can find what I am doing lately at my "now" page, and your inquiry is always welcome at [email protected], including comments on my blog posts.
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