• Blue Trunk

From the Founders: Returning to Travel


Light blue background with two photos overlaid, one of Claire standing next to a Paddington Bear sculpture outside a store, and another of Rupa sitting on a rock wall with trees and mountains in the background..

In the travel industry—and in our personal lives—a big question has been “when will travel return to normal?” Although we aren’t convinced that there will be the same normal again, we have both gone through different stages of returning to travel. Throughout the first year of the pandemic we were both very cautious in our personal lives, sticking to small social bubbles and low risk activities. But now, over two years into the pandemic, we have both begun to travel again in our own ways.


Claire:

For me, being at home was extremely hard. Although I do love my solo time, I easily get cabin fever and could feel a massive toll on my mental health. I feel the most myself when I’m able to be out in the world. Even if I’m just observing people and not actually interacting, being out in the world makes a big difference in how I feel.


Rupa:

I feel the same. The anonymous interactions out in the world and interactions with people I know tangentially were suddenly gone. Whether it was a random stranger in line, my hairdresser, or my usual barista, I noticed myself missing that type of engagement during the pandemic. With my previous experiences isolating because of health conditions it isn’t completely new to me, but I still noticed something missing.


Claire:

Definitely, and I also find that when I’m home all the time it’s easy to lose motivation in other areas of my life and form bad habits. Whenever I get the chance to travel I remember how important it is to me, and why I do what I do every day. It’s taken effort to break bad habits formed during the pandemic and make myself go out into the world. Planning travel, something that was second nature, has become stressful and burdensome.


Rupa:

Right before a big trip I always feel like it’s a lot of work and would just be easier to stay home. Part of that is related to my disability because I think of all the accessibility I need and everything that could go wrong. With the pandemic there is a whole other layer of stress on top of that. I’m more used to being home now, and it takes extra mental effort to be out in the world. There also is the fear of contracting COVID. Traveling now brings amplified feelings of “why did I do this?” but in contrast to being home all the time the rewards have been that much greater.


Claire:

Definitely, actually being out in makes it very different. For me I moved overseas during the pandemic, which brought a unique set of challenges. But it was also invigorating to be in a new culture and everything that comes along with being in a new place. Especially after having to cancel travel plans I had for 2020.


Rupa:

Between March and April of 2020 I had three big trips planned. Travel is obviously important to me, and a love of travel inspired Blue Trunk. It’s harder now because of COVID and everyone has to be a bit more intentional about their travel plans and risk tolerance. For people with disabilities and chronic health conditions travel has always been more difficult. There seems to be a greater understanding of the challenges associated with travel and the necessity to plan ahead. Now everyone has to weigh the benefits of travel with the challenges of what spaces feel comfortable. In terms of disability we talk about what places are accessible, but suddenly everyone has to think about travel in the context of risk and the mental burden of planning.


Claire:

It definitely takes more energy to plan now than it did before. Even recently I was looking into flights to Italy for a last minute weekend trip. And although it was a great deal I couldn’t wrap my mind around all the restrictions and decided it was better to wait. Planning travel can be overwhelming, and that's something we're trying to address.


Rupa:

It feels like we’re entering a new normal of having to consider COVID in addition to all of the other stresses that travel can bring. At the same time, after two years, I have some big trips planned that I’m really looking forward to, including coming to visit you!


Final thoughts

We are going to be reuniting in Portugal soon and can’t wait to share more about our travels. Although it is a beautiful city, Lisbon brings its own set of accessibility challenges, and we look forward to sharing our lessons learned with you all.




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