Here's what one professional misses most about travel.

By Stacey Leasca
June 30, 2021
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Jeff Chu at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Credit: Tristan Ashby

Travel is back, and we're just as excited as you are.

While we spend our days writing about where you should go next, we here at Travel + Leisure are also equally thrilled about our journeys, reunions, and getaways to come. And we're celebrating it all with new episodes of our podcast, Let's Go Together, which highlights how travel changes the way we see ourselves and the world.

In the first season, our pilot and adventurer host, Kellee Edwards, introduced listeners to diverse globe-trotters who showed us that travelers come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. From the first Black woman to travel to every country on Earth to a man who trekked to Machu Picchu in a wheelchair, we met some incredible folks. And now, in our second season, we are back to introduce you to new people, new places, and new perspectives.

In our latest episode, Travel + Leisure's editor in chief, Jacqueline Gifford, steps in for our regular host to chat with fellow travel writer Jeff Chu, editor at large at Travel + Leisure, to talk about his recent coverage of T+L's Global Vision Awards, his fond memories of covering food and art while traveling, and his thoughts on travel post-pandemic.

"I have loved traveling ever since I was a little kid. When I was eight another uncle paid for my sister and me to visit Hong Kong for the first time," Chu explains of his first foray into travel. "We spent the entire summer there improving our Cantonese, eating the best food in the world, and being with our extended family. And I remember sitting on the top of a double-decker bus, and this was a time before those double-decker buses were air conditioned, it was brutal. We were climbing the steep hill from their little village where they lived and the wind was blowing a semi-cool breeze through the open window. And I thought that this kind of exploring was the best thing, there was so much to see."

As for 2020, Chu, like most of us, had to slow down and stay still for the first time in a long time.

"I miss traveling a lot. I miss being compelled to encounter stories that are different from my own, whether it's the drama of the Scottish landscape, which is so different from where I live in Michigan or the cosmopolitan buzz that you get from sitting in a cafe in Paris, which is so different from the buzz of the tree trimmers chainsaw that I'm hearing outside my window, which I hope you do not hear," Chu says. "I also miss being forced out of my comfort zone because that's one thing travel does for us, travel is about discovery."

But, there has been a silver lining for Chu and this moment of pause — a deeper appreciation for his love of exploration.

"I think I'll [travel] with a deeper appreciation for the many reasons that we travel. For some of us, travel is about different kinds of pleasure, but for some of us it's also a spiritual pursuit because pilgrimage is one of the most ancient and underappreciated forms of travel, which means going on a journey in search of something that nourishes our souls," he says. "For some of us, I think travel is about reconnecting with nature or with culture. For some of us, it's a way to learn and to have our sense of the world broadened. And for many of us, it's a combination of these things. So I think the pandemic has helped me to appreciate and to acknowledge that travel does have these multiple dimensions and it's really urged me to think more carefully about why I travel."

Hear more from Chu on Let's Go Together, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Player.FM, and everywhere podcasts are available.