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Thanks For The Memories 2020: Matt Leedham, Founder Karryon & Travel To Change The World

Karryon & Travel To Change The World founder Matt Leedham reflects on a year like no other and looks for a silver lining among the exhausting fragility and heartbreak we have collectively endured working in the travel industry.

Karryon & Travel To Change The World founder Matt Leedham reflects on a year like no other and looks for a silver lining among the exhausting fragility and heartbreak we have collectively endured working in the travel industry.

Normally at this time of year, as the curtain begins to come down on another twelve months, I’d write a joyous review type piece musing on the travel year that was while being thankful to the industry at large for another year of fantastic support for Karryon.

In this year like no other, I don’t know where to start, or what to say.

Clusterfuck, shitshow, unprecedented, discombobulating and exhausting. These are just a few of the words that made it into the Guardian’s top 100 words of 2020 as voted by their readers this week.

For the record, the winning word was ‘shit’.

Sound about right?

Word Of 2020
The Guardian’s top 100 words of 2020

As it stands today, just two days out from Christmas, every Australian state and territory has closed its border again to Greater Sydney residents (and all of NSW in Western Australia), causing more travel cancellation chaos and heartbreak for people desperately wanting to reconnect with families and loved ones for the annual get together of the year.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world and particularly the U.S and my homeland the UK struggles to deal with a raging pandemic that knows no boundaries and refuses to abate.

There’s no candy cane coating to be had here as globally and locally, our beloved travel industry continues to suffer and sever into more pieces.

Around ten months on from when the pandemic first began (In Australia anyway), we still have no certainty on when exactly in 2021 this nightmare will end and outbound travel will again be allowed.

So many of our friends and colleagues have devastatingly lost their jobs, businesses and livelihoods. Some are thankful to still be working part-time, while others have been stood down, stood up and then stood down again with no certainty if and when they will return. Redundancies have been and continue to be rife, many have moved on to other industries and out there, our industry is eerily quiet.

And all this after the hideous bushfires that ended 2019 and continued to herald the beginning of this nightmare year.

Thankfully, there have still been plenty of positives to hold onto as we’ve pulled together to look out for each other as well as learn new skills and embrace new ideas and ways to communicate and collectively keep our spirits up. So many people have shown remarkable leadership and a selfless attitude to help each other in a time of such insane adversity.

On top of that, pent up travel demand is surging, people’s bucket lists are being brought forward (and booked), vaccines are starting to be rolled out and will be here by March, travel bubbles are looking likely earlier rather than later in 2021 and domestic travel continues to boom.

There is still good reason for hope that travel and the good times will return.

Singapore, January 2020. The smile on my face was one of excitement for a year of travel.

This year has harshly taught me that nothing in life can or should be taken for granted.

I feel eternally grateful for all of the unimaginable moments I’ve been gifted to experience over the years and the people I’ve met while working in travel. We’ve absolutely been so very privileged compared to many other industries – something which is vitally important to recognise right now.

I am also especially grateful and proud to be part of an industry and community that despite all odds can still find time for a laugh while remaining largely positive about the challenging road ahead and the mess we find ourselves in.

It will no doubt still be a long and bumpy journey along that road to get to where we all want to go, but we will get there, one step at a time and Together, in travel.

Setting up Together in Travel and the response has been our proudest moment of 2020

On behalf of all of the Karryon and (currently hibernating) Travel to change the world team, I’d like to say a massive thank you to you! Our beloved readers for continuing to support us this year. Honestly – it’s only been your lovely feedback and kind words that have kept us all going through this.

I hope we’ve been useful for you and that we’ve managed to put a smile on your face occasionally and ensure you’ve remained informed and connected.

A huge thank you too to our industry partners who despite all odds have continued to support us where possible and help keep the wheels turning for our free publications: karryon.com.au and traveltochangetheworld.com which too have heavily felt the financial impact of the C-word.

So here’s to a brighter 2021 for all of us and to a year of resetting and rebuilding our industry and hopefully getting some of our much-loved peers back in the game and doing what we all love again.

As leadership expert Robin Sharma says: “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”

Resilience is now our middle name. Keep going everyone.

Sending much love to you and your loved ones over the festive period, have a restful and joyous break and we’ll be back on deck in the first week of January.

If I can be of any assistance to you in any shape or form, please don’t hesitate to email me at [email protected]

Ps. The main pic in this story was taken in Jordan a couple of years ago on a media trip. What a place. I long for the day when we can explore the world again and inspire others to share our passion for travel.