It was a 6am start on the shores of the Black Sea. Bikes loaded, all 258 riders were ready to set off and follow their carefully plotted GPS routes towards victory and the Atlantic Ocean.
This was the scene at the Transcontinental Race (TCR) start line in late July 2019. An ultra-endurance, self-supported and self-navigated bike race across Europe, the 2019 edition took in 4,000km (2,485 miles) between Burgas on Bulgaria’s coast and Brest in north-west France.
That’s around 600km longer than a typical Tour de France, which takes place over three weeks including two rest days. The winner, 24-year-old German Fiona Kolbinger, completed the TCR in just over 10 days.
When Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary first reached the summit of Everest in 1953, mountaineering was a sport reserved for alpine clubs, national expeditions, and scientific pursuits.
For decades, the governments of Nepal and Tibet (which share access to Everest) denied access to most foreign climbers. Throughout the 1980s, access was limited to one Everest permit per season.
But in the early 1990s, everything changed.
Realizing that there was a business opportunity in leading Western adventure seekers up Everest, climbers like Rob Hall (Adventure Consultants) and Scott Fischer (Mountain Madness) convinced Nepalese officials to expand foreign access. John Krakauer’s 1997 bestseller Into Thin Air, which chronicled the death of 8 climbers (including Hall and Fischer) on one of these early expeditions, only further stoked demand.
In 2019, there were 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals globally – and, given that the planet only holds 7.7 billion humans, this figure alone suggests that a lot of us are travelling. The World Tourism Organization reports two major motivations for this – “travel to change”: the quest for local experiences, authenticity, transformation and “travel to show”: the desire for Instagramable moments and destinations.
I think both trends are fuelled by curiosity about the unknown, the unfamiliar. Humans have always looked for new experiences, ways to live, things to show to others. Travel magazines are strewn with articles about visiting “overlooked” and “unknown” places – and this curiosity has a long history.
Throughout his Antarctic explorations, Apsley Cherry-Garrard yearns for “unknown” places. Mary Kingsley describes the “sheer good pleasure” of canoeing down an “unknown” West Africanriver by moonlight, and delights in places “not down” on maps. A character in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness describes how “inviting” the “blank spaces on the earth” seem and tells us about his hankering for “the biggest, the most blank”.
Philosophy can also be about exploring the unknown. In one of his groundbreaking books on idealism, 18th-century Irish philosopher George Berkeley likened his investigations to a “long Voyage”, involving difficult travel across “wild Mazes of Philosophy”. Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume offers similar reflections halfway through his most radical sceptical work A Treatise of Human Nature.
Travels on a ‘boundless ocean’: Scottish philosopher David Hume.
He imagines himself as a sailor who has struck shallow water, narrowly escaping shipwreck. Safety tempts him to remain perched on the rocks, rather than venturing out onto “that boundless ocean, which runs out into immensity”. Yet Hume decides he will put out to sea again, in the same “leaky weather-beaten vessel”. Continue reading
Last year was the third year in a row Canada has broken records in its own tourism industry, Canada’s national marketing organization Destination Canada says, which saw an estimated $104.9 billion generated in tourism expenditures (a 2.3 per cent increase from 2018).
These numbers are up from 2018, which welcomed 21.13 million travellers to Canada and contributed $102.5 billion to the economy.
“The record number of arrivals shows once more that tourism is a strong and sustainable sector that benefits business and communities, large and small, across Canada,” Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Mélanie Joly said in a statement. “By working together, we are inspiring travellers to visit more parts of the country in all four seasons, to experience Canada’s diversity and inclusivity, to taste its culinary delicacies and to discover its Indigenous peoples.”
Dr. Carmen Dolea, Head of the International Health Regulation Secretariat at the World Health Organization (WHO), answers questions about staying safe while travelling. If you are travelling or attending any large public gathering, these are the latest recommendations from the WHO »
WHO advice for international traffic in relation to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV with Dr Carmen Dolea, Head, IHR Secretariat at the World Health Organization
So far, the main clinical signs and symptoms reported in this outbreak include fever, difficulty in breathing, and chest radiographs showing bilateral lung infiltrates. As of 27 January 2020, human-to-human transmission has been confirmed largely in Wuhan city, but also some other places in China and internationally. Not enough is known about the epidemiology of 2019-nCoV to draw definitive conclusions about the full clinical features of disease, the intensity of the human-to-human transmission, and the original source of the outbreak.
International travellers: practice usual precautions
Coronaviruses are a large family of respiratory viruses that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In case of symptoms suggestive of acute respiratory illness before, during or after travel, the travellers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share travel history with their health care provider.
Public health authorities should provide to travellers information to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections, via health practitioners, travel health clinics, travel agencies, conveyance operators and at Points of Entry. Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) advice for the public published on the WHO website contains WHO standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses, to protect yourself and others from getting sick, to stay healthy while travelling.
WHO technical guidance on surveillance and case definitions, laboratory guidance, clinical management for suspected novel coronavirus, home care for patients with suspected novel coronavirus, infection prevention and control, risk communications, disease commodity package, and reducing transmission from animals to humans is available on the WHO website.
Travelling solo is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can be scary to start. I did my first solo bike adventure when I was 21, and while I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and broke down (physically, mechanically, emotionally, etc.) a lot, it was one of the most important growth experiences of my adult life.
This December I went to the Nepalese Himalayas on my Shand Bahookie for a solo adventure. It didn’t all go to plan, but I had an amazing time. And it was still an important growth experience. It always is.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety. With that said, the vast majority of people are good. Recognize the fear mongers. Be properly informed. Be aware of your surroundings. Be respectful — you are a guest in their country. Don’t attract unnecessary attention — you probably already stand out enough.
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