It’s no understatement to say that there are very few occurrences that have resulted in such a worldwide paradigm shift in our lifetimes as that of COVID-19. We are still in the thick of it and already we can see how people are clamoring for change after we’re out. How we live, how the state handles welfare, the importance of scientific literacy and the rise of conspiracy-mindedness are all big questions brought up by the virus still taking its toll. Travel is another part of our lives that might change a lot, and here are some ideas of what the new “normal” might looking like.
People are likely to stay much closer to home
While there may be a lot of people who are more than happy to get far away from home and to find somewhere to relax once COVID-19 is over and done with, there is likely to be an increased sense of caution amongst travelers for some time once travel restrictions start easing off. As such, many people anticipate that we are going to see a great rise in staycations and city breaks and fewer people traveling overseas or too far from home in general. Given the number of people who got stranded from home by being overseas when the borders and airports shut, this is no surprise. People who worry about the potential of a second wave are likely to fear that happening to them, too.
Road travel is going to become a lot more popular
A lot of people are also going to have concerns about using any kind of transport that is shared or the public in general. As such, it’s likely that cruises and air travel might see something of a reduction for a while. Air travel demand might decrease, but that doesn’t mean that travel as a whole will decrease. Instead, many anticipate that road trips and RV purchases and hire are likely to expand. People are going to want more control over their own environment and have peace of mind that they’re not sharing their modes of transportation with people that might be carrying the virus. This might also translate to more people taking the time to go camping rather than entrusting their safety to hotels.
Different countries will re-open at different times
One of the factors worth remembering about the virus is that its impacts are not being felt equally around the world. There are some countries that are still experiencing their first swell of cases and there are others that seem to be at the tail end of things, with no new cases found in some time. As such, they are also likely to have different COVID-19 travel restrictions. We might expect that some countries might restrict travel for tourists for some time while keeping them open for essential travelers or for citizens. Similarly, the countries with the highest infection rates are likely to be treated with more scrutiny, with travel from the countries blocked by other major countries. As such, it will be crucial for travelers to do their research on travel restrictions on a country-by-country basis. You need to see if the country you want to travel from accepts visitors from the country that you are leaving, especially if you live in a place that still has a relatively high rate of transmission.
Airports are going to become a much different experience
Even if the rates of transmission continue to decrease across the globe, it is very likely that airports will take the risk of COVID-19 very seriously for a long time in the future. Already, a lot of airports are installing heat-detecting cameras and implementing longer and stricter checks to ensure the safety of passengers and staff. If there is a COVID-19 vaccine developed at some point in future, it is likely that airports will demand travelers provide proof that they have been vaccinated. Already, some airports are requesting that even essential travelers offer proof that they have tested negative for the virus. As such, we can all expect to have to do more prep work if we want to fly, and to spend more time in the check-in. It may also mean that we have to visit the doctor ahead of time to collect any proof that we might need to present before boarding any aircraft.
Costs are going to change across the board
At the moment, it is very difficult for even industry experts to guess whether or not the costs of travel will go higher or lower in general. Many anticipate that both flights and accommodation will experience a drop in price. Customer confidence will be low, meaning fewer people will travel, meaning these costs can go down. However, most also agree that insurance prices are going to skyrocket. Insurance prices are always affected by risk. If there’s a greater risk of you becoming sick, then insurance costs are going to go up. With that mind, everyone is likely to be at more risk, so everyone’s insurance prices are likely to go up. However, costs may be decreased in some other ways. For instance, many have been predicting that travelers will rely less and less on third-party travel agents and will instead be booking with airlines directly. This is due to the fact that airlines and hotels are going to have their own measures that third-party agencies can’t keep up with.
Hotels and tourist spots are going to become stricter
Just as airports are likely to undergo some changes to ensure that travel is safer, we expect the same to come from the tourist and hospitality industries, as well. For instance, hotels and BNBs are likely to start implementing new measures such as stricter hygiene practices and new employee training, as well as new rules for guests, such as social distancing and the mandatory use of gloves and masks. Tourist spots are also likely to start having stricter rules, such as restrictions on how many people can be at a certain spot at any one time throughout the day. To that end, it’s going to be important that tourists check ahead with any spots they want to visit, find out what restrictions might apply, and prepare accordingly. This could include longer wait times to see some of the most popular spots of any tourist destination as well as rules for mandatory maks wearing.
Everyone should still stay on guard
Aside from the trends mentioned above, we’re going to see most travelers remain very mindful of the risks of going overseas and traveling in general. As such, we should all be sure to stay vigilant, to keep our distance from others, to stay out of crowds, to wash our hands regularly, and to wear our masks. When it comes to traveling in airports, staying in hotels, or otherwise using shared or public resources, it’s important to be wary and to clean one’s environment, too. As such, it will be recommended to travel with your own supply of things like hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and masks, as well. Even if a country has no reported cases of COVID-19 in the past weeks, travelers are expected to present a risk of transmission from place to place. As such, the responsibility will be on us to make sure we’re being responsible for the added risk that we represent.
We still can’t entirely predict what travel might look like once COVID-19 has fully eased off. However, we can expect a long transition back to normal given how slowly some countries are recovering.
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