James St A–Z Guide

Travel as the new wellness by David Prior

By definition, it is the ultimate outward journey. But what about the internal journey? In a post pandemic world, David Prior predicts travel’s redefined place as a new form of wellness.

For the last two decades or so conventional wisdom has told us that the path to happiness and wellbeing was an inward journey whether that be through a refined yoga practice, meditation, spa treatments, reiki, healing crystals, you name it.  Each was a way to arrive at that allusive place, happiness.   The way to feel most content, most connected, most curious and most alive was to travel internally.  On that note I have been spending the last weeks trying to reinitiate a meditation practice, do yoga and even enlist a friend’s healing hands for some reiki.  I’ve tried my best to recall the mantra that I learned in the brief course I took about five years ago and then kept up sporadically with the help of whichever app or latest class was offered at the gym or spa centre/sanctuary that seemed proliferate every other week on every other block in New York but it’s erased from my memory.  Yoga somehow feels anodyne.  And reiki, well, it encounters less of a brick wall and it as if that energy or contemplative stillness of thought bounces off me like a trampoline.

There is a reason for all of this. And I know I am not alone.  Collectively we’ve experienced a terrible period of isolation, disconnectedness, and shutting down of our senses that has forced us to go inward whether we like it or not and we’re tired of it. Having being removed from people, being stuck in our houses, having our movement constricted, even our smiles concealed.  We’re exhausted, there is a malaise, and now as we have turned the corner there is little appetite for standing still.  Instead, we want to be out in the world.  It is here where the experience of Covid will come to redefine completely what we understand as wellness indeed it potentially will have flipped it entirely on its head.  Travel the ultimate outward journey by its definition, the facilitator of human connection, inspirer of curiosity, pure indulgence and quickest way to make us feel alive and that I predict is the new wellness.

Witness the sidewalks of New York since Covid has abated, restaurants are packed, dancing in the streets, the parks have never been more alive and patrons at museums more wide eyed than before.  After such a period you might expect that to be the case of course but there is something more nuanced.   People are heading out into the world with a renewed vigor.  No-one is ordering salad, instead wine is flowing, seafood towers, steak piled high with frites.  It is indulgent, late night New York.  It is about a freedom, an energy and verve that has a sense of experiencing something for the first time.  You have the sense that New Yorkers are seeing their city for the first time.  Like you would as a traveler.  The human condition revived through being out in the world.

Now this may seem as a fleeting moment a simple remedy and one applicable for only the worst hit by the quarantine however I don’t think that is the case.  This period of time has reshaped our psyche the world over and it will continue to shape the way we think for years to come. As we see the re-emergence of travel there has been a fundamental shift in the way people are beginning to dream and plan it.   For Australians the isolation is very different to that of the rest of the world, less extreme in its devastation but long in its easing, there is the opportunity less to surge back into the world but there is joy in the dreaming for now. Whereas a weekend in Paris could be taken for granted (for some) that is no longer the case.  Every moment will be savoured and anticipated.  Similarly those trips that were on the to-do list but always progressively shifted further out are now on the agenda even if it is years in advance. Sailing that felucca down the Nile, that gorilla trek in Uganda, hiking the Himalayas and the impossibly romantic Roman holiday these are the requests that are coming in daily.  The nature of the way travel is beginning to come back is markedly different.  People are still apprehensive, not about their health, but nervously excited about the big trip, like they are backpackers again setting out on the first travel.  Even if they have visited a place 15 times.  It is recognizing that in different places with different people and in different cultures our senses are activated in ways that cannot be in our familiar surrounds and that is a life giving force.  Or in this instance a life renewing one. The pure joy of experiencing something new for the first time is something by its very nature cannot be repeated but this is a once in history moment where we will get closest to having that sensation again.  You cannot find that on any spa menu.


Read the full James St A–Z Guide here.


Posted on

October 7, 2021