The Romanian people have responded to the flow of Ukrainian refugees into their country with a tide of rides given, food donated, and homes shared. In doing so, they have also given us in the wider world an antidote to the heaviness that we feel from tidings of war. Individuals might pursue conquest, but the wider community embraces peace and compassion. I cannot wait to celebrate and amplify that better spirit through travel to Romania. But is it safe?
Romania has a very different situation in the world from its northern neighbor, especially with regards to Russia. Leaving aside greater questions of identity and ownership, Romania’s membership in both NATO and the EU alone are enough to convince me it is not under threat from Russia right now, but I can understand hesitancy to travel there during such uncertain times.
But when people ask me if the Russian invasion of Ukraine has wrecked my tour of Romania, my answer is an unequivocal no. I find myself channeling The Princess Bride in my response. War cannot stop true travel. All it can do is delay it a while.
This is not mere obstinacy on my part (nor a manifestation of my vagabond urges). It is a conscious decision, reinforced by firsthand experience, that such turmoil creates both the best conditions for meaningful travel, and a significant moral impetus to go. For folks like me, travel is not about seeing a site so I can post it on Instagram. We go to connect with new places in a meaningful way and learn about their cultures and experiences, which in turn expands the traveler’s understanding of our world, our species, and ourselves. This kind of connection can be hard to find when the status quo is busily buzzing along and everyone is immersed in their routines. But then along come disruptions to the status quo, and we are all reminded of what’s really important in life. Spoiler alert: it ain’t money, and it ain’t material goods.
So what about those things: money and stuff? That’s where the second layer comes in. Romania is a fantastically wealthy country in terms of culture, history, and experiences, but it has not been an economic powerhouse lately, and being on the front line of an international emergency is not helping. So now is an even better time than normal to go, and while I’m learning the lessons it has to teach, I’ll trade some of my dollars that might help out the people who have been fighting on the side of goodness.
I’m not going to lie, it’s disappointing to postpone my 2022 tour of Romania. But I am already looking ahead to 2023, when our hearty small group will explore that remarkable country, all the way from its pre-Roman heritage, through a succession of empires and influences, and into the modern day when it stood up and showed how a country steeped in multicultural empathy and compassion behaves. If you feel like me, you can be the first to get updates and reserve a spot on the 2023 tour through our Early Booking List here.