In light of the state of our union (and by that I mean humanity’s supposed social contract, rather than that of my adopted homeland), it has been feeling specious, and borderline irresponsible, to tap out pithy epigrams suggesting that Nigo and Virgil’s collaborative collection just looks like some shit Takahashi Jun would have done in high school for art class if his homies robbed a vintage store.
Nonetheless, while we cope with pandemics and emdemic systematics, one thing that is getting a lot of people through the day is the possibility of one day, hopefully in the relatively near future, getting on a plane and fuxking off to a beach, or a city filled with fresh sights, sounds, and experiences.
It’s no secret that the travel industry is one of those hit hardest globally by COVID. Entire economies have ‘washed ashore’, as it were, and we can expect travel to change epically in the months and, yes, years, to come.
While unfettered travel remains a ways off, there are certainly places one can travel to now. Though, where you can go has a lot to do with where you are. If you’re in the EU you can now travel freely between all countries (save for Spain) in the Union. If you’re in Canada you can fly to many Caribbean islands, Mexico, and Europe (though as of writing you’ll still have to quarantine for two weeks when you get back), and if you’re in the US you can also travel to Mexico and the Caribbean, amongst other places, though the rules when you get back are different depending on where you’re getting back to.
If, like me, you live in New York, you can basically just go to Connecticut, unless you want to be locked inside for two weeks upon return. If you’re from California you can travel freely, not just to Ojai, Big Sur, or Palm Springs (which you should be doing anyways), but also internationally, which i discovered when my IG feed suggested that every single person I know in LA went to Cabo for 4th of July weekend.
For most of us it isn’t even about where we’re trying to go now, since we’re really not going any further than Whole Foods or the homies house, but what it will be like when it opens up a little bit, and where we might wander off to.
It’s tough to give advice on where specifically to travel right now, obviously, as these fractious times move so quickly safety levels literally ebb and flow from day to day.
It’s also a little tough to adequately predict what the experience of travel will look like, and it will diverge wildly from place to place.
At the moment flight tickets are dramatically cheaper than they typically are. Although hotels seem to have adopted one of two policies. Some are markedly cheaper, but a lot of the nicer hotels are essentially the same price or more; clearly having decided that they’re only going to have x number of clients right now (many of whom will be travelling on corporate expense accounts), and those people won’t be more encouraged to stay by lower prices, so they may as well keep prices high. I checked the W in Miami for a few weekends from now, and the cheapest room was around $450 USD per night, which is more than I’ve ever paid there for a night during non-Basel times, but the Betsy, which is just down the block and infinitely superior, was only $240, and I’ve never paid less than double that for a room there.
Not that I’m recommending Miami right now. Joe’s Stone Crab is fire, but not that fire.
At very least, in the future, we can expect longer waits at airports, increased health checks, and more general clusterfuxkness at every airport. Just think LAX at 3:40pm on a Friday, and apply that to every airport on earth.
There is some potential good news.
Iceland has spectacularly contained COVID, and is small enough that they will literally test every incoming passenger at the airport, so you know that you’re safe there. A quick check of prices saw rooms at hotels like the Icelandair Marina and Kex at about $110 USD per night, which is like 70% off of typical prices, and rental cars were 30 per day instead of $180.
If you’ve never driven down highway 1, stopped for a dip at the Seljavallalaug pool (an outdoor and unmanned thermal swimming pool built into the side of a rolling mountainous range), and continued on to the black lava sand beaches and then to Seydisfjordur for a takeout order of Icelandic Sushi at Nord Austur, which you then swim across the baby fjord for a picnic on the island….don’t you think you deserve to?
Sicily, too, would be a great destination choice, particularly seeing as the Sicilian government is instituting a stimulus package to boost tourism that will see the government cover 50% of the cost of flights to the island for tourists, as well as paying for 1 of every 3 nights of accommodation. Sicily is too oft overlooked, but a week on the island is a psychic palette cleanser. A 10 euro ticket to one of Europe’s grandest opera houses for an aria or two, a stroll through the magical botanical gardens, a sunset Spritz at the Nautoscopio Nauto beach bar, and waaaayy too many Arancini at the open air food markets. Not to mention the majesty of the beaches at the Isola Delle Femmine and the relaxed glory of Taormina. One could do worse, especially when subsidized.
So when I wrote this I was under the impression that Japan was also doing a programme of this nature. Turns out they’re not. But I’ll leave the little plug for going to Japan that follows in here anyways, cause if you haven’t, you should…and if you have, you should go back. Not only is it one of earth’s most vibrant cultures, but it’s a country whose, how shall we put this, cultural isolationist tendencies have led to a thorough uniqueness. Nothing in Japan is quite like it is elsewhere. Not always for good, but mostly.
And, I mean, sure, you could live out your Lost in Translation fever dreams at the Park Hyatt, which I guarantee would be wonderful, but me? I’ll be at the Halekulani on Okinawa. I haven’t been there yet, since it just opened, but I damned sure will soon. Who doesn’t need Taco Rice in their life, particularly while staying at an updated and even more luxe sister to Honolulu’s best hotel by a country mile.
Or, if you’re an arts/architecture nerd go on a little Ando Tadao tour. Fly to Osaka and sojourn to the Church of the Light, one of the most magical buildings on earth (spoken by a devout atheist), and catch the train from Tokyo (and second train, and boat) to Naoshima, a tiny Honshu island now known simply as Art Island. Or…hell….just revel in the neon junkie origami palace that is Tokyo, and eat better than you ever have before. You really can’t go wrong.
Or take advantage of the two for one hotel rooms in parts of the Mexican coast. Or just deadass save a little bank while you’re stuck at home and go on that trip you’ve always wanted to…next year. But start planning now.
For the moment, the only practical solution is to stay the fuxk home. I’m sure it’s killing you as much as it’s killing me.
But we’ve weathered other storms, and this, too, shall pass. I would never minimize. The human, social, economic, and psychological effects of this will be rearing for years and years to come.
But aspiration is the watchword of progression. And dreaming of MaiTais on far off islands certainly can’t hurt at the moment. So dream big. And plan.
As Hemingway said, ‘isn’t it pretty to think so’.