THE JOURNEY BEGINS TUE 9TH AUG
Why A Low Season Adventure?
In 2019, the world welcomed 1.5 billion international tourists. This figure was predicted to be met by 2024 and yet it had been reached 5 years in advance. The result of this was that we started to see the damaging effects of over-tourism on a grand scale and with 2019 levels of tourism expected to be reached again by 2023/24, the problem is far from over.
According to the Brookings Institute Think Tank, the global middle class will increase by a further 1.5 billion over the coming 9 years. That’s 1.5 billion more people who will have disposable income and may well choose to spend that money on travel. Simply put, we don’t have the capacity for these extra tourists during our already over-stressed peak tourism months in each destination. We simply have to start travelling more during the low season months and…frankly, it’s a better time to visit in most cases. What is missing, is some high quality inspiration and guides to help us to be inspired to try the low season experience for ourselves and this is why we have teamed up with Nikki Morrison aka “My Low Season Adventure”.
Nikki shares our passion for the low season experience and like us, she is determined to show the world the “real”, “authentic” and frankly better experiences which can be had as she travels the world during the low season months. But Nikki’s story is also quite a personal one.
by Nikki Morrison
Why do we travel? To relax, for adventures, for renewal? To experience new tastes, cultures, vistas? The answer will be different and personal to everyone, so perhaps I should just stick to giving my personal answer.
Nine years ago my world ended: my husband died. He’d been ill for nine years, diagnosed on our 10th wedding anniversary, but we’d spent those nine years very much alive and fighting for life. It wasn’t the cancer that killed him. He was undergoing a second stem cell transplant when an infection took him in just five days. When you’ve lived so long with relentless positivity you leave no room for failure, for what-ifs, and the shock was seismic; leaving me a widow at 45, with two similarly traumatised children aged just 15 and 12.
I’m not a great mum, sometimes I’m a good mum, sometimes I’m a bloody awful mum.
I thought you only had to get them to five and then we’d be able to head off on adventures of our own once again, but ‘I can’t wait til the kids leave home’ quickly flipped to ‘Don’t leave me!’
So I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been quietly bracing myself for this moment ever since Rory died. Every parent wants to launch their child into the world full of confidence and with barely a backward glance… but bereaved children are different. They’ve lost one parent and they keep a beady eye on the one they’ve got left. My daughter doesn’t do ‘Mother’s Day’, she sends me ‘MAD Day’ cards, because that’s what I am: Mum And Dad. In a near decade of slow recovery we have become incredibly close – a really good friend used to remind me that good things come in threes and I’ve finally learned she was right – I’m really proud of the three of us.
So why go? Well, selfishly – I hate being left.
Less selfishly, I want to free them from the responsibility of parenting the parent. To let them concentrate on finding their place in the world without thinking about me – and perhaps to set an example of having courage enough to do that.
I want them to be proud of me…
But mostly it’s selfish!
I want to live my life well, to take chances, to take part in the world. And to do that I need to let go. Nine years on I live in a house where my husband would still be able to find most things in the cupboards and drawers. His belongings are still here, hell – HE is still here.
So this decision to take twelve months to travel the world is about finding a new world and my place in it. It’s scary but I feel if it’s to balance out the past it needs to be bold. When you’ve been through a bereavement that robs you of your future (and I am by no-means the only one, there are millions of us out there) for a long, long time you have to hunker down in survival mode, but eventually you function again and then you need to live again. I hope I’m not being reckless, rocking the boat unnecessarily or failing to count my blessings. I’m listening to the voice in my head (perhaps it’s Rory), saying, “What have you got to lose?” “You’ve survived the worst.” “Be bold because there might not be another day.”
And that is why I am going to travel.
I have a one way ticket booked to Bangkok for 9th August, and at the moment, that’s about it!
The plan is – as far as possible – to explore the very best of the world during the low season. Thailand will be in the middle of the rains, a time of regrowth and rejuvenation (appropriately enough) and I hope to explore the north of the country first, the mountains and border with Myanmar. From there perhaps Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and overland through Thailand again down through Malaysia to Singapore, then on to Indonesia and Borneo.
Covid remains a challenge, there’s still no tourist access to Papua, or Taiwan for example, but maybe things will change. Ukraine is another consideration, no flights through Russian airspace make getting to Japan a challenge. So maybe I will fly on to India, or Bhutan or Nepal next. It sounds like a crazy global shopping list, but I don’t want to just tick the destinations off. I’ll be sharing it all on social media, in podcasts, videos, pictures and interviews, highlighting how wonderful it can be to travel out of season and the damage being done by over-tourism. We all have a responsibility to consider our impact and with the help of Low Season Traveller and our partners I’ll be able to show you the way: real world experiences in real time.
Sometimes it won’t be pretty – sometimes it will take your breath away!
The plan is journey overland as much as possible, to use trains, buses and boats and broadly speaking to divide the world (it’s a big place) into three chunks – Asia, Africa and Central and South America. So far the English speaking parts of the world tempt me less, which given my own appalling lack of language skills I may yet regret.
I’m planning only to take cabin luggage, it’s less likely to get lost and it will teach me to live with less. In fact I think the whole experience will do that. If you’re reading this then I know you too want to learn how to travel mindfully. It’s hard and it takes time to research, my in-at-the-deep end approach will make it easier for you to make good choices and put you in touch with a world-wide range of tour operators, hoteliers and resorts who share our values. I hope to learn from them too, about their part of the world, the people in it, what connects us and how we can work – and play – together to protect it.
It’s been about a year since I started to say out-loud that this was what I was going to do. Making myself vulnerable once again is hugely nerve-wracking, but if a 55 year old MAD, solo female, who’s good at denial can do it, then hopefully I can inspire others too.
My son has just turned 21, my mum 80, and as I enter my tenth year of widowhood I’m off on @mylowseasonadventure – it’s going to be life-changing. Please follow along, I’d appreciate the company!
Nikki Morrison is a former BBC Journalist who will be setting off to explore the world’s low seasons for Low Season Traveller.
She has a one way ticket booked for Bangkok in August. We are looking for partners to work with Nikki during her journey. If you’d like to offer accommodation or experiences in return for featuring on My Low Season Adventure, please get in touch.