COVID-19 has ushered in an era of uncertainty, with some of the most pressing questions being those that surround the shifting nature of travel.
When will we be able to travel again – and what sort of restrictions will be in place? Will we ever be able to freely roam the globe like we once did? And perhaps most importantly – does all of this mean we’ll get a guaranteed window seat on our next long-haul flight? (Sorry, but these are dark times and we’ll take what we can get).
These questions remain unanswered, but peering into a foggy future points towards a few trends that are likely to take place when travel opens up again.
Local over international
With countries focussed on containing their own case numbers, it’s likely that domestic travel will get going well before international voyages become an option.
While many borders remain closed and air travel is still considered high-risk, travel lovers will begin to satisfy their wanderlust by exploring their own backyards. We’re already seeing an uptick in urban exploration, and we anticipate that many will begin taking day trips to nearby locales in the coming weeks.
Soon after, it'll be time to get those Spotify playlists locked and loaded because there will be a serious road trip renaissance once health authorities give the green light.
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Organic hand sanitizer and fashionable face masks may prove to be the new go-to travel accessories throughout 2020, while proper hand-washing techniques will become a mainstay of every journey.
As seen in airports around the world already, some will take it to the next level by putting layers upon layers to create make-shift hazmat suits. No matter how things develop going forward, safety is going to be a preoccupation for the foreseeable future.
Keeping your distance
Packing like sardines into landmarks overflowing with hundreds of flip-flop’d tourists could be a thing of the past, as social distancing restrictions may fundamentally shift where we choose to gather.
Instead of literally everyone lining up to get into the Sistine Chapel, Disneyland or the Eiffel Tower, we’ll see more and more people opt for the less beaten path. This is bad news for the likes of the Hard Rock Café, but a fantastic development for the random dive bars of the world.
Travelling with flexible dates has always allowed for a better shot at scoring deals, and now more than ever, flexibility will pay off.
Travellers who need to book transit during specific time frames — say trains during rush hour, or flights during the holiday season — will likely be facing premium prices. While travellers who take a flexible approach will be able to snatch up great deals from companies looking to fill that pandemic-shaped hole in tourism revenue.
This might translate into Christmas in the fall for some, New Years in the spring for others and a set of permanently packed luggage for those willing take advantage of a seat sale at a moment’s notice.
A greater appreciation for travel
We’ve all been stuck in our homes, unable to attend events or hang out with friends for way too long. Many of us have had to cancel trips, and the rest of us are still dreaming of our next one.
When travel returns to some kind of normalcy and we are once again able to explore the world, we had damn well appreciate it. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the freedom to experience foreign cultures, new destinations, and our big, beautiful planet is an extremely precious one.