‘The Open Road Was Ours’ – This Will Give You A Serious Case Of Wanderlust

I don’t know about you, but as foreign travel tentatively opens up again from May 17 – with a traffic light system we’re still getting our heads around – I’m feeling all kinds of nostalgic for the trips we used to take, pre-pandemic.

For the best (/worst) part of the past year, going ‘abroad’ has been off the agenda and it’s easier to deal with that landlocked feeling by simply pretending you don’t have a passport. But now there’s the prospect of getting on a plane again, we’ve allowed ourselves fond memories of sun, sea, sand – and a time when we had absolutely zero need for a duvet coat to enjoy a cocktail.

The beach holiday is by no means the only type of trip we’ve missed, though. In fact, when the HuffPost team swapped notes on the last time we hopped on a plane, it reminded us travel comes in so many forms – and we miss them all.

Here, we reflect on our precious last holidays pre-Covid (not that we knew they  were at the time) and the freedoms we promise never to take for granted again.

Rachel Moss and her partner in California.
Tasha on the slopes in the Pyrenees.

My last trip abroad feels like a decade ago, but it was actually mid-Feb 2020 – a ski trip with a couple of friends to the south of France. You might associate skiing with expensive chalets and après ski, but this was a quieter affair. Every year, we go to a relative’s house in the middle of nowhere, near the Pyrenees. On this trip, we headed to the slopes three or four times – an hour’s pilgrimage in a hire car – then spent the day trying not to fall over before heading back. 

En route, we stopped at Intermarche to pick up supplies for dinner, and stock up on beer and wine – my favourite part of the day. Then, we spent the evenings drinking, eating and playing board games in front of an open fire or – if it was warm – watching the sun go down, sitting on a wall outside the house.

We knew Covid was circling, but it seemed in the distance. Our Ryanair flights hadn’t been cancelled and we spent most of the holiday barely acknowledging the virus existed. There was what I’d describe as mild peril on the flight home, when I was seated next to a guy who wouldn’t stop coughing. But looking back, we were on the Covid-secure side of things: self-contained accommodation, bubble of four, lots of time outdoors. I wonder whether holidays will ever feel freeing again or whether I’ll be going through some kind of Covid risk checklist in my head as soon as I look at flights? – Natasha Hinde, life reporter

The Wedding Trip

Family wedding vibes in Holland

It’s strange to imagine it now, but in March 2020 I travelled to Holland for a big family wedding. We mixed with people from different countries – Spain, UK, America – we danced in a massive hall, we drank (a lot), and we all stayed in a massive Airbnb together as a family. We sang songs loudly, screaming the words over the music, and passed round disco light sabers that were handed out across the dance floor. We bonded with strangers in the toilet and took selfies that we laughed about the next morning.

At the time, that all seemed normal, but looking back, it feels like a luxury. While we were there, we spoke about coronavirus, as it was loosely on our radar – wedding guests from Spain had heard that the UK had their first Covid death. Never did we think that’d end up in the 100,000s. It felt like a “small talk” topic to discuss with random strangers you meet at a wedding. We had no idea what was to come.

A family photo of that day has been my phone background since the wedding, and I look at it often, so grateful that we were able to have that experience. A few weeks later, we were in lockdown. We haven’t been able to see our family who live in Holland since, and I can’t wait until we’re all reunited. Soon, I hope. –Amy Packham, life editor