It’s less than two months before 2020 wraps up and I guess there would be none to deny that the coronavirus pandemic changed our lives immensely. As the effect of the virus still lingers in the air, we’ve now come to realize that it’s nearly impossible to stay indoors forever and we’ll have to find a way to be careful as we get back to our normal lives.
The hospitality industry, and travel companies especially, have been worst hit by the ripples of Covid-19 as nations across the world went under complete lockdown, airlines went bankrupt and had to lay off a massive number of employees, and hotels turned to hospitals in various cities. The skepticism to travel grew in people, and so did the urge of breaking free from the monotony – and now, we’ve reached the threshold where we’re perhaps ready to don the mask & face shield, to explore the beautiful world out there!
When will travel become normal?
Well, that’s a difficult question to be answered. The short answer is that nobody knows for sure. Travel will not become normal, but it’ll surely recover in stages and the freedom to travel will vary, not only country-by-county but by region. Apart from that, there are multiple factors that will influence travel such as whether social distancing on planes is economically viable for carriers, the reliability of antibody tests, and if immunity is lasting, to name but a few. Needless to say, domestic traveling will resume at a faster pace than international travel and countries will surely come up with several restrictions, until a vaccine is introduced and made mandatory (just like getting a visa!).
But let me be honest – as things are now opening up slowly and the ‘new normal’ is here, traveling is gonna be back but it’ll be very different from how we’ve always traveled before. After being home for seven months, I took a trip last month, and here are the most visible changes that I noticed (and I believe they’re here to stay for some time!):
Traveling will be (more) expensive than before.
Until the outbreak of the pandemic, we literally had the privilege to book a flight at the last minute and everything seemed to be at our fingertip. However, things now have changed – and we’d need to plan a trip beforehand, considering several factors like how to travel, whether the hotels have been properly sanitized, which all places are open to being explored, so on and so forth! A research paper from Imperial College London speculates that governments will need to turn lockdown measures on and off in order to keep demands on healthcare systems at a manageable level, and the ‘travel season’ might depend on that. This means there will be windows of opportunity to travel that might just last only for weeks or even days. As the airlines have also started operating, seats are often limited (in order to ensure proper distancing) and there would be dramatic increases in pricing during those windows.
Staycations will be in vogue; no more ‘weekend trips’!
Gone are the days of weekend trips, when we could just pack our bags on a Friday eve and hop on to a bus for an escapade! Now, we’d need more planning before we go and there would be several health & safety precautions that one has to consider. As organizations across the world have been offering ‘Work From Home’ options to the employees, people will be more keen to go for longer vacays. All that we’d need is a proper internet connection – and life will be sorted! Work and explorations can go hand in hand and trust me, I was living in a quaint homestay in a Himalayan village for a month and it seemed to be the perfect post-covid trip. Travel advisors are also advocating for staycations and it’s surely gonna be a trend in the days ahead.
The queue at immigration will be longer than ever before!
Once the countries open up the borders and international traveling resumes, we’ll all probably think of taking a trip abroad (considering that we’ve already missed out much in 2020!) but the immigration process in the post-covid world will be stricter than we can imagine! Every country will come up with different sets of precautionary measures, as the biggest worry would be new infections coming from outside. Already, South Korea is ordering all persons entering from the US and Europe to isolate for two weeks, even if they test negative for COVID-19. Even when lockdowns in Europe are over and people start to travel again, countries will test at the borders, to ensure that every person entering is in a healthy state of being. If you thought the queue at the international airports’ immigration control was torturous before, now consider what it’ll be like as you line up, take a swab test, and wait for the results!
Responsible tourism will be here to stay.
Let’s accept the fact that we all started taking our holidays for granted until the pandemic hit us hard. The months that we had to spend indoors made us realize that traveling is a privilege and now that we are getting a chance to be back on the roads, we should try and be responsible travelers, ensuring the well-being of Mother Earth and protecting the world for our future generations. In the days ahead, travel will become more defined by purpose. Now is the time when we should be more aware of our actions, reduce plastic usage while traveling, consume local products in order to support the economy, soak in the cultural vibes of the place rather than just being a tourist, and volunteer for a meaningful cause to make our journey worthy.
None will skip buying a Travel Insurance.
We often skipped ticking that tiny box while booking our flights or a trip package, as we never considered it essential to purchase a Travel Insurance. But now, we’d all want to have that extra assurance and flexibility, considering the times that we’re living in. The demand for Travel Insurance has increased dramatically over the last couple of months, but one needs to be careful enough, often this ‘insurance’ doesn’t cover you for many things, including the outbreak of a pandemic!
To say the least, it’s majorly on us – how we can abide by the precautionary measures as we step out and make a move. Staying indoors for such a long time is surely taking a toll on our mental health, and traveling is something that always induces a sense of happiness. The pandemic taught me that travel is an essential human activity and you’ll soon get to travel and explore the post-pandemic world, but it won’t be the same.