You’re five hours into the flight, your watch is telling you it’s midday but everyone is dozing or watching some romcom you’ve already seen. You look around the cabin and see that every window blind has been pulled tightly down. All except two: yours and one other holdout across the aisle.
Why not join them? Well, on the oddly soothing flight map it’s telling you that, at this very second, you are cruising above Iran or perhaps the wilds of Siberia or the reddest spot of the Australian outback. Why would you choose Jennifer Aniston over Isfahan? Just by turning your neck 90 degrees you will glimpse places that you may never get to visit.
Look. There’s a road jaggedly cutting through mountains dusted with snow like icing on rock cakes. There’s the endless tundra of northern Russia. Who’s down there? What are they thinking? Is some kid arching backwards, using their hand as a visor, wondering who’s up there in that plane?
Somehow the beauty of flight, the extraordinary possibilities of travel, the chance to see and experience lives unlike ours has become a banality for many people. But not all.
The Escapist comes from the team at Monocle – our editors and writers – and, since its launch in 2015, has been a magazine for people who want to know what’s down there, over the ridge, around that city corner. It’s a magazine out to inspire and encourage you to enjoy travelling; a directory that should be your guide for the year ahead. And as usual, we also take you behind the scenes to introduce you to people who believe in hospitality, delivering valuable tourism to their cities or just cooking you a good dinner made from great ingredients (matched, we hope, with a good white from the vineyard down the valley).
So prepare to see a fresh view of Madeira as it rediscovers its modernist architectural heritage. Come on a road trip across the US with Robert Bound as he traverses from New Orleans to Texas (we know that he loved his trip – he came home wearing a ten-gallon hat). And buckle up as we bounce between Alpine airstrips. Did I mention Zamalek? Or Andrew Mueller’s modern take on a trans-European railway odyssey (he definitely never pulled down the blind on his carriage)? And then there’s our annual Travel Top 50 awards – discover who, what and where has triumphed.
Our hope is that The Escapist will put down markers on your dream travel map. And that you’ll take comfort from being in the company of people over the coming pages who, despite perhaps being air-mile millionaires or red-eye shuttlers, still enjoy that feeling as the plane races down the runway and knowing that they are heading somewhere they are yet to discover.