The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on our travels. Scare media discourages us from taking our long-planned vacations, while airlines are often forced to cancel flight reservations due to new restrictions. How will travel change once the pandemic is over?
At the start of 2020, we spent months in lockdown, isolating ourselves from friends and family for safety reasons. With the arrival of summer, we took a deep breath as the economy refreezed. If you haven’t seized the opportunity to travel, the coming second wave of COVID-19 will give you even more headaches.
In a desperate attempt to attract tourists despite the scary headlines, some countries have offered subsidies for accommodation and car rental. Sicily, Japan and Mexico have done their best to attract tourists during the time of a global pandemic. How many more governments will be ready to intervene?
Restrictions, prohibitions and regulations
Governments around the world are constantly adapting their travel policies to the changing situation. New bans and restrictions are introduced every week. It has become difficult to keep up with the newly introduced regulations. Will we ever return to what was once considered “normal”?
For all lovers of cheap flights and improvised adventurers: hold your horses. The situation changes drastically all the time. It is difficult to predict anything, even in the short term. How to anticipate unexpected travel bans?
Here’s an important tip: be flexible. For example, some airlines offer flexible tickets. If a flight is cancelled, you can either rebook it or get a refund. This service often costs a few extra dollars, but it’s the best insurance you can get. So whatever happens, don’t get too used to your reservations.
Currently, more and more European countries are imposing travel restrictions. The situation in the United States and Asia is equally tense. Like it or not, the threat of the second wave of the pandemic is over us – and it will stay there for some time.
Concerns about non-traditional travel
Technology and universal internet access have brought more than a few breakthroughs in travel possibilities. Apps and programs connecting travelers offer a wide range of options. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, non-traditional means of transportation have hit a seemingly insurmountable hurdle.
Whether you want to use Couch surfing for hosting or WWOOF for unique opportunities, hygiene should be your priority. We have to figure out how to respect all safety measures when exploring the world on our own.
And there are things to explore! In recent months, our planet has finally been able to breathe a good blow for lack of tourism. Without travelers, major destinations have become cleaner and emptier. Traveling to less popular, more pristine or rural areas is a way to simultaneously see the world and get away from crowded places.
Alternative travel ideas
What else can you do to travel during a pandemic? How will the trip change once it’s all over?
Due to the virus, a large number of hotels, restaurants and airlines have gone bankrupt. Poor countries are still grappling with health and economic crises.
Most often we dream of distant lands, while knowing nothing of our immediate vicinity. Hiking in the mountains, cycling in the nearby forests or swimming in the nearby lake – you can explore your area like you never have before.
The future is here. Online courses and video chats have become a new reality. As crazy as that idea sounds, cutting-edge technology has the potential to pioneer the travel niche. In fact, it could have its benefits for the Earth.
In a few years, Virtual Reality will be able to make you travel in the Amazonian jungle or in the deserts of the Sahara, all without leaving your home. From today, watching a nature documentary can also be a great replacement for traveling. You can see the beauty of our planet, without risking polluting it or your own health.
The future of travel
Experts predict a few scenarios for the post-pandemic world. Whether we find a new vaccine, develop herd immunity, or become infected with the virus without exception, one thing is certain. We are about to enter a new reality. What does this all mean for adventure-seeking travelers everywhere?
You may have heard of “back to normal”. Well, that might as well be the new normal. In the coming months, it is plausible that the bans and restrictions will not be as strict as they are now. Yet the threat will remain.
With terrorism, potentially dangerous airlines and weather anomalies, COVID-19 is likely to become another risk we will have to accept. Like it or not, some security measures preventing the spread of the pandemic may stay with us a little longer than you might imagine.
The new normal
It is highly likely that within the next two years you will have to pass tests before boarding a plane or crossing the border into your neighboring country. In fact, to enter some states you must already test negative for the coronavirus. Compulsory testing may haunt you wherever you go.
And the masks? The topic of face mask legislation has raised a lot of controversy, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of us have no choice. Commuting, traveling or shopping – either put on a mask or risk a fine.
Tests done, masks on… what else? Social distancing is another safety measure we better get used to. Many airlines and bus companies only sell tickets for every other seat, leaving as much space as possible between passengers.
Some claim that the impact of the pandemic on tourism and travel is just a taste before the devastation that climate change is about to wreak. Experts predict that tourism-based economies could return to “normal” in 2021.
The future will tell how much this “new normal” differs from what we have experienced so far and how many challenges we still have to overcome.