Let’s be real: 2020 has been a year like no other. But while the trials and tribulations the world has faced have had the attention, we’re going to talk about the good things – from the little wins, to the moments of growth and self-discovery, as well as some of the bigger silver linings that have come out of the year.
We’re glass half full kind of people. And we want to move into 2021 more positive and more hopeful than ever before, and this seems like a good place to start. So here are 20 good things that happened in 2020.
20. We had the chance to rewild the planet
This year David Attenborough brought us his legacy film ‘A Life on Our Planet’, (if you haven’t seen it, you must!) where he stressed the importance of rewilding the planet. This started to happen in small ways in 2020, with fewer travellers overwhelming tourist hotspots and many places around the world seeing an increase in wildlife returning. While no travel at all isn’t the answer, we need to ensure we respect the environment, support animal conservation, and continue to look for ways to combat overtourism in popular destinations.
19. You got active
Lockdown exercise trends and the increase in people partaking in daily exercise led to a rise in demand for active adventures when travelling. According to our digital insights, you were twice as likely to search for active travel experiences like hiking or cycling in 2020 than in previous years.
18. You showed compassion for people less fortunate
As Gandhi once said, ‘you must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.’ While it would be easy to focus on some of the ugly displays of human nature this year, there was also a lot of kindness. For example, ‘Project Tablets’, when generous donors made it possible for Education for All and The Intrepid Foundation to deliver 25 tablets to Moroccan girls in their villages, so they could continue their studies despite schools closing in remote mountain areas.
17. Australia was recognised in Lonely Planet’s annual Best In Travel Awards
As an Australian owned company, we were pretty stoked when Australia received the ‘Community Restoration’ award from Lonely Planet, in recognition of its recovery efforts at both a local and national level to rebuild communities and preserve Australia’s unique wildlife following the 2019/20 summer bushfires. The Intrepid community displayed amazing generosity at the start of the year by donating over AUD $700,000 for communities affected by the fires in our Bushfire Emergency Appeal.
16. The pandemic forced you to discover new passions
While travel (and life) as we knew it halted, many of you took the time to discover new hobbies and passions – and this extended to travel too. Take this Intrepid traveller’s story as an example: when the restrictions in London eased in the middle of the year, Neringa went on a cycling trip… even though she didn’t own a bike!
15. You’ve supported the tourism industry in our time of need
With international travel all but halted for much of the year, many of the communities around the world that rely on tourism income had to change tacks to survive. In Tanzania, the Kilimanjaro Porter’s Assistance Project pivoted from helping travellers climb Kili to teaching their porters organic farming practices, to give them and their communities another source of sustainable income and food. But they couldn’t have done it without the support of donors and past travellers from around the world.
14. You loved exploring closer to home
While long-haul travel has been tricky, you’ve made the most of getting out and exploring your own backyards. So far in 2020, we’ve taken 166 travellers on a trip in their local region and already have 390 more people booked on our new range of local tours departing in 2021.
13. There has been progress in combatting the climate crisis
The events of this year have given many of us the time and space to reflect on the world around us – including the way we address the climate crisis. A rise in the conversation around conscious travel and consideration for sustaining communities and regenerating the environment were some of the key climate wins this year.
12. You were reminded of the forever connection between travel and food
With less options for eating out available, many of you branched out and tried to recreate some of your favourite dishes from your travels at home. While the bowl of pho might not quite have tasted as good as the one you had in Hanoi last year, or the cup of chai just wasn’t quite the same as when you sipped it on the streets of Mumbai, we all had a renewed appreciation for the interconnectedness of travel and food memories.
11. We had some tough but important conversations about inclusivity
Among the tumult of the global pandemic, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement shone a light on many issues with regards to racial inequality that are at the forefront of the world – and indeed, travel industry – today. While these topics are no doubt uncomfortable to address, they reaffirmed how important openness around these conversations are, and that working to make anti-racism a feature of all our decision-making, is of critical importance.
10. A ‘clean bathroom’ should never be the highlight of your Trip Advisor review again
From now on, all good hotels, aeroplanes and restaurants should be in line with the new World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travels protocols, meaning you’re less likely to come across grimy bathrooms or bed bugs on your future travels!
9. The safe and responsible return of (some) travel
As the year progressed, some of you were excited to have the opportunity to explore regions a little closer to home, in a safe and responsible way. Like one traveller who joined an Intrepid trip in November and had this to say about travel during the pandemic:
“The trip was wonderful – we were in great hands all week with our leaders, Valentina and Ricardo. I felt that Intrepid took our safety very seriously and I felt comfortable with mask wearing and sanitising. I also felt that all of the restaurants, activities and accommodation took cleanliness very seriously. Valentina did a great job of sharing information and stories with us, and all of the local guides we had at the various stops were truly some of the best I have ever had.”
8. You still made global connections, from the comfort of home
Even though people couldn’t travel they found ways to connect with their favourite locals. Urban Adventures at Home Online Experiences offered a range of virtual activities from hands-on cooking classes to city walks with local guides. And some of you made the most of online retail therapy, with guided virtual shopping tours of the Marrakech souks through Local Purse.
7. The rise of slow travel
After the craziness of this year, it’s no surprise a lot of you were eager to take a step back and slow things down. The demand for slower, more immersive travel experiences was heard loud and clear, and our range of new Intrepid Retreats across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe, Africa and the Middle East proved popular with those looking for an opportunity to relax and unwind closer to home.
6. 2040 felt closer than ever (in a good way)
With the release of the popular sustainability documentary, 2040, in the US, the future of a regenerative planet felt closer than ever. The film explores what the future could look like by 2040 if we embrace the best climate solutions that exist today, and dive into how the travel industry can adapt to become more sustainable.
5. The tourism industry got behind rebuilding responsibly post-COVID
Similarly, the tourism industry took stock and recognised that, in order to bounce back from the challenges the pandemic has presented stronger than ever, we need to rebuild responsibly. As Intrepid’s CEO, James Thornton put it, “we shouldn’t be aspiring for things to go back to normal, but rather redefine what normal means and use this period of travel stagnation to focus on rebuilding our businesses more ethically and sustainably, so that the earth is preserved for future generations to explore.”
4. We were reminded that planning future adventures is good for mental health
Even if you weren’t in a position to hop on a plane immediately, planning a future adventure can be almost as satisfying. A 2014 Cornell University study delved into how the anticipation of a trip can increase a person’s happiness substantially and an earlier study, published by the University of Surrey in 2002, found that people are at their happiest when they have a vacation planned.
3. The importance of time with loved ones was amplified
Whether you were stuck at home with them for months on end, or kept apart, the importance of friends, family and the human connections we crave helped us all remember what is really important – both when we travel and in life in general.
2. We’ll never take travel for granted again
When something you love is taken away from you, you tend to reflect on it more than usual. That’s how we felt about travel this year. So, when it is safe to travel again you should make it count – take the dream trip you’ve been putting off, seek an adventure you wouldn’t have dared to chase before or treat yourself to a holiday – you deserve it, after all.
1. 2020 is finally coming to an end!
All jokes aside, we are very much looking forward to a better and brighter 2021. Thanks to the Intrepid community for your support, words of encouragement and beautiful stories this year. Let’s make sure there are more than 20 things to be grateful for in 2021!
Hero image by Liam Neal.