Let’s face it. Some of us are starting to miss global travel—or at least the ability to explore a new place without having to worry about Covid-19. The anxiety that this pandemic has caused is serious, and its systemic too. Even with airlines sending us emails with personally written notes from their CEOs advising us on the precautions they are taking to make air travel safe again, citizens everywhere still have their reservations, and for good reason.
There’s still too many gray areas without a vaccine and that means people are staying grounded, waiting it out, and if they are taking vacations they’re doing it within their national borders to limit the amount of exposure they have with the outside world.
While many have speculated that the withdrawal from global travel is actually helping citizens learn how to be content and happy with what they’ve got, it’s also having consequences on whole economies of learning and progress that once depended on global travel for innovations. Besides vacation, global travel has long been a vehicle for out-of-the-box thinking and new ventures, and just within the realm of humanitarian aid. It’s the reason that Tim Ferris used to post YouTube videos while renting out a property in Hawaii. He wanted to create, and cement the idea that innovation and global travel were synonymous.
The global travel industry and the birth of the digital worker
The global travel industry, for what its worth, used to inspire the work of digital nomads and remote workers. New blogs and entire platforms like WordPress became sites for the feelings economy, and for writing and sharing the experience of new countries and cultures. That’s how sites like LonelyPlanet were able to innovate and become so well known.
Global travel also spurred new research methods through academic avenues such as university affiliated internships, dissertation research in developing countries, and journalism moreover. A pretty established academic method promoted by institutions all over the world, and especially the U.S., is simply the power of observation and being able to analyze another culture, place, or the people within. From an academic standpoint, the global travel industry was capitalizing on not just vacationers, but curious thinkers.
Combine this with user technology such as lightweight MacBook’s, iPads, and camera equipment, and the digital remote working trends started to multiply abroad. Soon it became well known that innovators were not just people who worked 60 hours a week, they were individuals who took risks in the global travel industry to become the new knowledge seekers of the world.
Focusing on domestic issues during the interim
But right now global travel is largely on pause for citizens of the world. And this means that innovation has to take new form, and the innovators who became globalists in the process need to become loyalists for problems occurring within their own borders.
Innovation can take new forms in our home communities, but this requires an ambition and incentive for wanting to focus on these issues instead. Here are some main issues that are affecting local U.S. communities that global innovators can get involved with:
- Working on new ways to transform urban centers in blue-green societies
- Creating advocacy campaigns against mask litter and its potential harm to ecosystems
- Working to protect national parks in the same way globalists seek to protect territories outside of their home country
- Volunteering to help vulnerable communities that have faced extreme shocks due to Covid-19
While global innovators (which often includes academics and researchers) have made great strides in the past decade seeking to explain and understand the problems of communities in other countries for their own academic pursuits, now is the time to shift that focus to the national and episodic issues that have arisen in the communities we are tied to for safety precaution. While many academics and researchers have passion projects that lie outside of their national borders, now is the time to focus such energy on domestic issues. Their talents are the power of observation is still in-demand, just in new places and settings.