While the pause button on travel has been firmly pushed, we are still free to travel in our imagination. I satisfy my wanderlust through documentaries, films, and books. Plotting my next escape helps me deal with the anxiety of living with an invisible enemy and gives me something uplifting to look forward to once the stringent global restrictions are over and we are free to roam.
I am at my happiest off the beaten track, travelling in remote and far-flung corners of the world and meeting people from all walks of life. For me, the journey begins when the plane takes off. I feel an immense sense of freedom as powerful engines roar to full throttle, thrusting the plane into the air. There’s nothing better than rising through cloud and popping out the other side into piercing blue sky and sunshine; it doesn’t matter where I’m going; I’m thrilled to be in the air en route to anywhere.
Some of my travel writing influences include Gertrude Bell (1868–1926) and Freya Stark (1893–1993), strong, courageous women at the forefront of modern travel writing who explored the world when it was not easy for a woman to travel alone. Reading about Bell and Stark’s brave work inspires me to seek out and plan exciting destinations to explore—as soon as I am able.
I love being in the Arctic and Antarctic. They are hard to reach but feed my sense of adventure. Antarctica is a particular favourite. It’s easy to be overawed by this remote part of the world. It’s tenfold more beautiful and spectacular than the pictures in books or on television. It’s inspiring and huge, and every day it throws up something unexpected. The Antarctic tundra is a monochrome world except for a flash of colourful beak or feather, or the icy blue and turquoise underbelly of a whale. Remote and desolate, it has a bracing purity, and I can’t wait to return.
Another destination close to my heart is Namibia, with its spectacular wildlife and landscapes. Described as “Africa’s harsh paradise,” Namibia boasts some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery. The Namib Desert, among the driest places on Earth, is host to the awe-inspiring sand dunes at Sossusvlei that crest at up to 325 metres. The rich orange dunes are one of the most stunning sights I have seen. They look like a mirage in the rippling desert heat, and the colours change from dusk till dawn from burnt orange to fire red.
I am very fond of the Himalayas and feel at home there. I’ve spent a lot of time in Nepal and travelled extensively throughout the country. Each time I go back, I feel as if I’m going home.
I cover many stories in Canada each year, writing and shooting videos as well as taking photographs. Travelling through the Northwest Passage and the Canadian High Arctic has been memorable, especially in 2016 when the discovery of Franklin’s ship HMS Terror was announced as I was on a ship passing right over it.
My next trip will be to the wilds of Kazakhstan in 2021. Right now, we can take advantage of the time at home to research exciting future journeys. We will bounce back from this pandemic, and the world’s departure gates will swing open again. In the meantime, fire up your imagination and let your dreams decide your next destination.