No one waking to the dawn of a new year on January 1, 2020, would have ever imagined the year that awaited us. In fact, over two years later some still feel like we need to rouse ourselves from a bad dream that has no end in sight.

For travelers and adventurers, the pandemic brought deep disappointment and a new wave of struggle not seen in our lifetimes.  Cruise ships reached their ports and stayed there. Crossing state lines meant a possible penalty and masks became the newest accessory for the overnight bag. Even the happiest place on Earth seemed to lose a bit of its magic. And now, while ships are sailing and the magic of travel is returning, the question of vaccinations and viruses continue to touch every itinerary.

There are any number of experts willing to tell us how to proceed, many of them still sounding the alarm to hunker down, while others insist the danger is minimal and easily navigated.  One thing true of those captivated by wanderlust, though, is that we must wander. Staying put is not a viable option. We simply have to go.

But what does it mean to wander in this new age of COVID? Do we throw caution to the wind and board the next flight to Timbuktu? Do we stay within the confines of our home states?  Various global restrictions have refined the answers to that question and left us with fewer choices, but there is still choice.  And, as in all of our adventures, we find that the answers are as unique as the travelers asking the questions.

For some, travel has meant exploring their own communities with new eyes.  Locations unique to their zip code and passed every day, are now on deck to be explored. For others it’s meant rediscovering the joy of that classic road trip to get lost in the majestic glory of the Grand Canyon or the frigid mist of Niagara Falls. And others have simply done what they’ve always done; weighed the risk, prepared as best they could, and struck out for the farthest spot their dreams and wallets could take them.

We’ve always had to decide the level of risk or adventure we are comfortable with in any given season.  A disheartening residue of this viral nemesis would be to let our wanderlust go dormant, never to be roused again. Keep dreaming.  Keep planning. And keep wandering. Use this time to offer grace and encouragement to fellow travelers, to those who explore from keyboards, or kayaks. To those who dream of the mountains, and to those who climb them, all while taking a moment to cheer on those who open their passports for the next elusive stamp.  We are the same tribe, wanderers all, so travel at the speed of you.