Anyone would agree that there are few advantages to living through a global pandemic; curtailed freedoms, the worry over you or a loved one catching the dreaded virus; and the difficulty of knowing whether to make a journey, especially one abroad.
However, as a fairly seasoned traveller and certainly well-versed in the annual Christmas trip home to see the family in England, I can honestly say that travelling in Covid times is, with the exception of copious form-filling and test-taking, actually quite enjoyable! At least my trip from Malaga to Stansted on Monday was.
At Malaga airport there was no queue at security and departures was practically empty. My Ryanair flight was at most one third full, on time, and I was through passport control at both ends in no more than 10 minutes. As if things couldn’t get better, I was one of three people on the airport shuttle bus at Stansted to take me to the car park where my parents have loyally come to pick me up over the years and one of those three people was the driver!
The roads felt quieter, although this was rush-hour in England, pre-Christmas, so I would be lying if I said they were hauntingly quiet. Compared even to Malaga’s motorways during rush hour, the sheer amount of traffic on that small island never fails to astonish me when I’m at home.
Armed with my Covid vaccine certificate, the adventurous side of me is tempted to see where else I could travel to, just to enjoy the relative ease of people-free airports and planes. However, the precautionary voice inside my head is telling me not to be so stupid. There’s a reason why nobody is travelling at the moment.
In fact it’s telling me there are two; Covid and the environmental crisis. If it’s not one thing it’s another. Are my years of carefree travelling well and truly behind me? Will the environmentally-minded among us ever go back to those halcyon days of cheap flights and globe-trotting once the pandemic is over? Or will it be just a distant memory with the photos and souvenirs to prove we really did hop on and off planes with gay abandon in the past?
At the moment, I’m feeling quite glad that I made this particular journey, having missed Christmas with the family last year. Many won’t have because of the pandemic, which is entirely understandable. I admit I ummed and ahhed about it and depending on expected pronouncements from Boris and Pedro (Sánchez) we're yet to see if it was an entirely sensible decision, but for now all’s well that ends well...