BILLIONAIRE's publisher and co-founder, David Leppan, shares a New Year's resolution to travel more consciously in 2024.
If, as I entered my final year of high school, you told me I would soon leave Africa and go to Europe, where I would live for the next 30 years, travelling across the continent and the world but choosing to call a small island home, I would have found it hard to believe.
Therein lies the beauty and the richness of travel. It not only opens your eyes, but it also opens your mind, your heart and your possibilities. It takes you on a totally different path than the one you’d imagined.
Such was the impact of travel on my life. My horizons had forever been changed and having seen what I had seen, there was no going back to being the boy I had once been.
And I say all this as someone who likes routine and structure, who wants to know where I will sleep and where the next meal will be enjoyed. I am by no means like my eldest daughter, Sofia, who has always been happiest on a long-haul flight going somewhere, anywhere. I now tend to stay home, to order the same dishes when eating out, to hold court with friends rather than with strangers but introduce new people into the fold to ensure I don’t grow weary of those I value the most and have handpicked over decades. My life certainly revolves around food, meaning of course dinner parties sprinkled with new faces among the recognised ones.
At the height of my working life, I would easily take 60 or 70 flights a year - it was truly exhausting and any romance I thought travel entailed was long lost. The getting to the airport, the chaos thereof, the queues and poor service, delayed flights, missed connections, the often-inedible food and the impact of time zones. But the joy of travel was landing somewhere different, discovering what I didn’t know.
Prior to COVID-19 I had already dramatically curtailed my wanderings, recognising that many business trips were unnecessary and being acutely aware of the environmental impact I was having. In the first part of the pandemic there was a certain pleasure in looking up into the sky and not seeing a single plane, or out across the sea and seeing no ferries or cruise liners.
For almost three years I went nowhere, and it was a beautiful time. The only travel to be had was inward, either in finding myself or down memory lane. I came out of lockdown with a determination only to travel if the trip was going to be impactful or if it was meaningful.
I’m proud to say I’m sticking to this. I now encourage myself and others to step off the beaten track, to seek out the path less travelled upon, to go where your horizons will be forever changed and where your eyes will fall upon things and places you’ve never seen before. Therein lies the romance not only of travel, but of life.