To re-book or to bin, that is the question. I’m talking about my shelved holiday plans from early 2020: the city breaks in Austin, festivals in New Orleans and road trips in Mexico that perfectly fitted the person I was before the pandemic… and today seem as passé as peplums.
This week I’m in California, wrapping up a wonderful three-week break with my parents, sister and brother-in-law and nephews. Sentimental though it sounds, it is only now – when I am finally reunited with these far-flung family members – that I can think seriously about frivolous, fun travel. And frivolous travel is a serious business.
Being in California, with my laptop and a job that affords me a dangerous degree of “location independence”, I’m perfectly positioned to pick up the travel plans I abandoned in early March 2020. I had been preparing for an epic Amtrak rail adventure across the American south west, through Arizona, Texas and Louisiana. I had my tickets booked, hotel rooms confirmed, friends joining me at points along the way – and then lockdown happened.
Today, it wouldn’t take much to resuscitate these plans. I could easily administer some CPR and sift through my inbox for hotel confirmations, glance at the restaurants and museums and vintage stores I had gleefully favourited in my Googlemaps app, and fire off emails to the friends-of-friends I had contacted two years ago to check they are still alive and interested in meeting up for tacos.
But the truth is, it seems kind of creepy to resurrect these holiday plans, betraying a Miss Havisham-like obsession with past thwarted hopes and dreams, or Victor Frankenstein’s fatal foolishness in thinking he can bring the dead to life without it all getting a bit gross. After all, two years is a long time: should I not just let these abandoned holiday plans rest in peace?
I’m not normally superstitious, but when one’s plans are obliterated by something as Biblical as a plague, one has to wonder if that trip was meant to be. And I’m not normally a fashion brat, but when one’s travel plans have been knocking around for two years, they don’t exactly seem fresh and fabulous.
I raised this with my friend Eva, who nodded her head in recognition. “We had a family trip to Iceland planned for April 2020, and then October 2020, and then April 2021, and now that it finally looks like we could actually go in April 2022… I don’t want to,” she says. “I think we all talked about Iceland so much that it became dull. The cancellations were depressing. Iceland doesn’t feel like a fun holiday for us anymore.”