August 20, 2020 | By Madeleine Nicholson

Post-Pandemic Travel and Tourism: How Has Travel Shaped Your Worldview?

The coronavirus pandemic has upended countless lives and livelihoods. Few industries are scrambling to adapt quite like the travel industry, one that relies on the regular, safe, and unencumbered movement of people for business and pleasure. With countries locking down and opening up and locking down again while hopeful travelers receive mixed messages from cities, transportation companies, and tourism boards, it has become especially hard to anticipate if and how we can move—now and in the future. 

We’ll discuss Post-Pandemic Travel and Tourism next week, Monday, August 24th, and I hope you’ll join us. 

While the Council continues to work remotely and bring you globally minded conversations through your computer screens, I speak for the whole team in saying that we miss you. We miss trading travel stories, sharing insights, and discussing global affairs in real-time in our office, our conference center, or over a cocktail at a local bar. 

Travel and, more generally, a sincere interest and investment in the world and its many cultures and complexities has been a catalyst in prompting meaningful dialogue with you all.

It was at a President’s Club reception that I mentioned my study abroad experience in Ghana with a member, and we jumped into a discussion about global food and agriculture, as well as West African art and fashion.

It was at a Young Professionals networking event last year that one of our members recommended their favorite wine region in South Africa, one which my colleague and friend Sarah Jaffe and I visited on a trip this past January. 

It was at a public program last spring that, in mentioning that my masters research took place in Cambodia, one of our members shared all the best places in the city for Southeast Asian food – many of which I hadn’t tried since my return. 

Your open-mindedness and willingness to share your worldviews with us makes our network a special one. We hope you’ll continue to share and stay engaged in the years to come. To learn more about Council membership, visit here

In the spirit of summer wanderlust and in preparation for our program next week, I present to you some of the people behind the scenes who make our work possible, along with a few of their travel reflections to inspire your own.

Matt Abbott, Director, Government and Diplomatic Programs

Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso / Photo Credit: Matt Abbott

How has travel changed the way you view the world?
Travel has been a transformative experience for me. Especially after trips on which I was pushed outside of my comfort zone, I increasingly began viewing the world through a lens of empathy and humility. The humility engendered through travel also sparked an intellectual curiosity and desire to learn more about the incredibly complex world in which we live. I credit some of my experiences while traveling for teaching me to embrace the unexpected, challenge preconceived assumptions, and recognize my privilege.
What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again?
When it is safe and responsible to do so, I hope to visit Socotra in Yemen to see the island’s remarkable biodiversity.

Kyra Dahring, Program Coordinator

Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh, India / Photo Credit: Kyra Dahring

How has travel changed the way you view the world? 
Traveling has opened my eyes to the nature and customs of countries and enlightened me to aspects of the world of which I was previously unaware. Personally witnessing foreign concepts, ideas, religions, and various lifestyles first-hand has enhanced my global competence. I now view unique lifestyles with greater understanding and respect. I’ve found that adventure is the most effective way to not only learn about different cultures but also to learn about oneself. Everyone should travel as much, as far, and as long as they can because life is not meant to be lived in one place. Traveling is a passion of mine, and I am ready to experience everything the world has to offer one country at a time.

What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again?
I want to road trip around Romania!

Patrick Hernandez, Events Officer

Akagera National Park, Rwanda / Photo Credit: Patrick Hernandez

How has travel changed the way you view the world? 
Travel has shaped my entire person, offering me unique opportunities to challenge my own beliefs and perspectives and to embrace the beauty of the unknown. Continual exposure to new surroundings, foods, traditions, dialects or languages, cultures, and friends instilled in me a never-ending love of being on the move and experiencing something new as much as possible. The result? A willingness to try different things, to walk in other people’s shoes—as well as resilience, self-confidence, a reliance on family for companionship, and a thirst for knowledge and adventure.

What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again?
Within the States, I would like to be able to visit all of my family members – it’s been way too long! Internationally, we’re planning to visit Thailand or Greece as a family. 

Craig Kafura, Assistant Director, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy

Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China / Photo Credit: Craig Kafura

How has travel changed the way you view the world?
International travel, for me, reinforces the importance of people-to-people exchanges. It establishes that basic level of interaction between what are sometimes very different societies. 

What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again?
Once travel resumes, I would really like to get back to Japan. It's a country I've been interested in for years, both personally and professionally. I'm hoping to get up to Hokkaido the next time I'm there!

Karin Larson, Program Officer

Viksjön, Zinkgruvan, Örebro län, Sweden / Photo Credit: Karin Larson

How has travel changed the way you view the world?
From exploring Nepal’s rich cross-cultural history, to wandering breathtaking endlessly empty beaches in Bermuda, travelling has given me perspective. Having had the opportunity to live in four countries and about 
eight different cities since age eighteen, I’ve been fortunate enough to explore life in different contexts, cultures, and languages. Travelling has taught me what home can be, what I want it to be, and what matters most (fulfillment, relationships) and least (possessions) outside the parameters of my own cultural dispositions. Or, to quote Polish-German philosopher Rosa Luxemburg, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again?
As much as I would be tempted to resume my bucket list travel to places like the Bahamas and Belize (I fell in love with the Caribbean a few years ago, following trips to the Mexican Yucatán peninsula), I will head to familiar waters (literally!) when travel resumes in earnest again. There’s something very special about long, Scandinavian summer nights, swimming at sunset in the Swedish lake where you first learnt how. I look forward to seeing my family and friends at home in Stockholm, finally without the barrier of a computer screen that now divides us across borders.

Madeleine Nicholson, Program Officer

Cape Town, South Africa / Photo Credit: Sarah Jaffe

How has travel changed the way you view the world?
I’ve spent a lot of time in lockdown rereading my travel journals and reminding myself what a privilege it is to be able to travel safely (most of the time) due to the way I look, the language I speak, and the resources I have to make it possible. Nearly all of the most transformative periods in my life coincide with a time of intense travel or of living abroad. In some cases, these experiences completely altered the trajectory of my life, and because of this, it’s difficult to untangle exactly how travel has shaped my worldview, my habits, and my personal and professional goals. More than anything, though, it’s the people I’ve met along the way and the relationships that remain that have allowed me to grow more empathetic, thoughtful, and globally minded. 

What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again?
Prior to the pandemic, I had hoped to do some hiking and climbing in East and Central Africa. Maybe I will attempt that adventure again.

Jody Oetzel, Special Assistant​​​​​​​

Sri Lanka / Photo Credit: Jody Oetzel

How has travel changed the way you view the world?
I used to dream of travelling the world – seeing a new place every few months and collecting stamps in my passport. However, after living in Sri Lanka for six months during an internship, I mostly dream about going back. I’ve returned to the island nation to visit friends and favorite places every year since, although I had to call off my 2020 plans. 

What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again?
I look forward to the time when I can go back to Colombo and eat kotthu, revisit my rusty Sinhala vocabulary, and enjoy the familiar unfamiliarity of my other home across the world.

Tria Raimundo, Director, Global Development Programs

Venice, Italy / Photo Credit: Marta Buso 

How has travel changed the way you view the world? 
Travel has opened my mind and heart, and has offered me so many new experiences, from friendships to foods and cultures. It has also given me wanderlust, and I am eager to continue to travel and share new experiences with my family. 

What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again?
My first trip will likely be to my home country and province to visit Banff and Jasper in Alberta, Canada.

Elizabeth Turcza, Individual Giving Officer​​​​​​​

Montreal, Canada / Photo Credit: Elizabeth Turcza

How has travel changed the way you view the world?
Travel has added a more compassionate lens on how I view the world. With every new place I travel, it provides another set of shoes to put myself in, whether it’s seeing what healthcare should look like, reminding myself how strong our democratic system is, or simply enjoying a friendly conversation with a stranger to know more about their country.
What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again?
When I can travel again, I have promised myself that I will make my longtime dreams of a trip to Argentina, including a cruise to Antarctica, a reality. Between the newfound emphasis on the fragility of life from COVID, paired with the dwindling Antarctic due to climate change, this trip has jumped to the top of my travel to-do list.

Iain Whitaker, Director, Strategic Content and Programs​​​​​​​

Southern Utah / Photo Credit: Iain Whitaker

How has travel changed the way you view the world?
I was always very down on where I grew up and couldn’t wait to get away and see the world. I’ve been fortunate to travel a fair bit, see some amazing places, and meet incredible people. Yet, in a strange way, the more I’ve travelled, the more I’ve grown to appreciate and miss where I came from.  

What trip would you like to take when travel can resume in earnest again? 
After the past few months in lockdown, I’d like to go somewhere with a lot of space, clean air, and silence. Maybe the Hebrides in Scotland.


The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. We convene leading global voices and conduct independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is an independent, nonpartisan organization. All statements of fact and expressions of opinion in blog posts are the sole responsibility of the individual author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Council.


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