Soon we’ll have to be checking the definition of this word in a dictionary, because for all of us, travelling is like a forgotten relic from the past.
So let me remind you: travelling (gerund or present participle from travel) means: “to make a journey, typically of some length”.
Does it ring a bell? Not really!
Especially for you guys in America. I know you spell travelling with one “l”.
And…as always, I’m getting off topic.
Let’s talk about the future of travel!
There is no secret that the travel industry took one of the biggest hits from the COVID–19 pandemic. In just a few weeks, an industry worth approximately 2.9 trillion US dollars, generated estimated revenue losses of $314 billion in the aviation sector alone and reported 25 million jobs being at risk. Big corporations, local business, people whose livelihood depends on travelling – everyone is affected.
However, as particular countries slowly ease restrictions and open borders (my beloved Italy on the 3rd of June!), there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Or rather… a plane in the skies.
But hmm…travelling by plane, by train, by coach, staying in a hotel room, renting an Airbnb, eating in a restaurant…how will it all look?
Or maybe even thinking about travelling abroad at this point gives you a little panic attack and the best you could do is visit some place close by.
No matter if you can’t wait to board a plane (me, me, me!) or you’d rather explore your surroundings, one thing is certain – for a long time, travelling won’t look the same and we’ll have to adapt to many changes.
Keep reading to find out how will travel change after the pandemic!
WHAT WILL THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL LOOK LIKE?
That’s a question many of us would like to know the answer to. But the truth is…no one knows!
It’s safe to say that travel will recover in stages, and freedom to travel will vary country-by-country and region-by-region. For example, New Zealand and Australia introduced a “trans – Tasman “COVID – safe travel zone” allowing Kiwis and Aussies to visit each other. The Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) created a so called “travel bubble”, letting their citizens travel freely between them. Germany and other Schengen countries who have low, manageable rates of infection are planning on opening their borders in mid June.
But the truth is, how quickly travelling can resume will mainly depend on people’s willingness. Even with open borders and safety restrictions many of us might not want to put ourselves at risk.
Therefore, it is predicted, that the next couple of months will be all about domestic and even regional travels. International travel might take up to 18 months to recover and this recovery will be very uneven. Meaning some countries and regions will recover faster, others slower. It’s also important to acknowledge the hard truth and the very real possibility, that travel won’t go back to its pre-COVID levels for a couple years.
WHERE CAN YOU TRAVEL FIRST?
Road tripping, caravanning, camping, glamping, staying at a cottage in the woods…those will be probably the first travel activities you’ll be able to plan. Assuming of course they’re possible in your region and home country. Local and domestic travel will take precedent in the travel industry this year. And maybe it’s actually a good thing. Assuming that you like your home country. By not being able to go to the tropics, you might discover some beautiful places in your area that you’d never thought of visiting before. And what’s more important, after months of being locked in your house, you’ll appreciate this experience even more. So start your research and treat yourself to a luxurious tree house stay. You definitely deserved that!
And if travelling, even to a place close by still sounds too scary, check out my fun and simple staycation ideas you can do at home!
WHAT IF YOU WANT TO STAY IN THE HOTEL?
All the hotels will have to adopt new COVID–19 measures, which basically means 3 things: disinfection, social distancing and limited human contact.
Starting with possible self-check-in and check-out, to implementing apps to open the door (I know what you’re thinking…wow!), apps to order food or request any kind of service including wait-free check-out (if self-check-out is impossible) or luggage pick up.
All payments should be limited to the card listed on the reservation made online, so cards don’t need to be handled.
If you always wanted to enjoy a hotel breakfast in bed, but room service was always too expensive, now is your chance, as inclusive meals might be limited to room service or to “pick up stations” anyway. If the hotel decides to open a restaurant there will be most likely no buffet (just a few dishes from the menu) and the tables will have to be at a minimum distance of 1 meter, possibly with screens in between. The same with hotel bars, swimming pools, gyms…a strict social distancing regime will apply.
Oh my…I think I prefer a tree house.
In guests rooms, the priority is going to be cleanliness and sanitation, not extravagance. We could even see a reduction in decorative pillows, bed runners, items stocked in minibars and even paper products like magazines and pamphlets. And possibly carpets! Some hotels might even need one day between reservations to properly disinfect rooms.
Daily room cleaning might not be available…which is actually a good thing. Who needs a new towel every day? It’s just a waste of water. Although, one step back in environmentally friendly travel, will be the return of single-use toiletries, instead of multiuse bottles to minimize the spread of germs. So, do the environment a favour and bring your own toiletries.
WHAT ABOUT EATING OUT?
Similar rules will apply to pubs, bars and restaurants.
Limited amounts of people, tables spread out 1-2 meters with possible screens, booking your table in advance, or even placing your order on the spot through an app. And then…I guess, waiting for a robot to bring it you, if everything is so advanced already. And of course no cash! Everyone will be wearing masks, naturally, so you won’t even see which waiter is the cutest. And the smell of disinfectants will be floating in the air. Perfect for me, I don’t like the smell of food anyway.
Hmm…We will depend on technology a lot. But what if you have an older phone that can’t handle those apps, or you’re older yourself and you’re not comfortable with smartphones or if technology simply hates you and nothing ever works for you…I guess you’ll out of luck for post COVID-19 fun and entertainment.
In all seriousness, businesses applying these technological methods should consider their older and less technologically-able customer base too.
And now ladies and gentlemen the big one….
WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN YOU CAN FINALLY BOARD A PLANE?
This is the area of travelling where you will experience the most changes. Which again, you can sum up in 3 phrases: distance, disinfection and limited human contact. I guess it’s everyone’s new mantra. But let’s face it…hundreds of people locked in a limited space – sounds like an ideal place for a virus to spread.
The first major change will probably be happening even before entering the airport terminals, where only people with plane tickets might be able to gain access. This rule already applies at many airports.
All passengers will have to go through a disinfection tunnel (already tested in Hong Kong) and a thermal scanner. Infrared cameras that can scan a crowd in search of people with fever are already used at many airports around the world. If you have a fever, you might be directed to further examination or simply…sent home. But there is a hope (Emirates already tried it once) for a quick blood test with the result available in just 10 minutes. If you test negative, you’ll be free to travel.
Checking yourself and your luggage in should be contactless.
Well, the biggest change in general, will be striving to limit direct contact between passengers and staff as much as possible. So again, everyone who is waging an eternal war with machines…brace yourselves.
Self-check in, luggage disinfection, automatic boarding, fever check-up and even booking your security check slot in advance…it all adds up to one thing – we’ll have to be at the airport a lot earlier before our flight. Even 4 hours earlier.
Oh dear…I want to fly again, I want to fly again…
Alright, somehow you made it to the plane. It seems like the real fun starts there!
Not only might you be prevented from bringing your hand luggage on board, but you can also forget about walking down the aisle to stretch your legs or even going to the toilet. Ok, hopefully the last point will depend on the situation, the length of flight and airline. I can’t imagine not using a toilet during a 10-hour flight.
Throughout the whole flight, you will have to be in disguise…Batman, ninja, Superman… whichever mask suits your style. So yes, wearing masks will be obligatory. 20-something-hour flight from Europe to Australia…good luck. Luckily it doesn’t have to be any special mask. A material mask or a scarf will do.
What about food?
Who doesn’t like to snack on the plane or sip on a G&T?! Duh!
Served meals and drinks was one thing I was looking forward to on my cancelled flight to Australia. Unfortunately, due to crew-passenger direct contact limitations, inflight food service will be reduced to a minimum. Meals, if any, will probably be limited to wrapped products packed in disposable packaging. Great, more plastic! Payments will be cashless only.
Oops and I forgot about the most important thing – where will you sit?
Preferably as far as possible from the other passengers, but we all know it’s not that easy. After rejecting an idea by The International Air Transport Association and several airlines to leave the middle seat empty (although a few airlines like Delta, American or United will be implementing that), now most airlines are back to square one.
A good solution could be a proposal suggested by Aviointeriors, an Italian aircraft cabin interiors producer, to reverse the centre seat in order to ensure the maximum isolation between passengers. An additional clear plastic screen in between would provide further protection. This project is called: “Janus” and could definitely take flying to another level of safety.
Another project of Aviointeriors: “Glassafe” is a kit-ready solution that can be installed on existing seats. It works by adding a transparent shield to each headrest, isolating each passenger.
Project “Glassafe” sounds way more achievable to me, especially that could be implemented almost immediately.
Time will tell what and if any changes the airlines will implement.
There might be airlines out there trying to lure you with promises, that they can take you to a lot of places already. Well, they can’t!
Therefore, before booking your flight, it is important to check:
– if the country you want to travel to is no longer under lockdown,
– if you you don’t have to quarantine yourself for 14 days after you get there,
– if after your visit there you don’t have to go back under quarantine in your home country.
Here you can find a useful map presenting the countries which still have restrictions: Travel Regulations Map.
Well, it’s not like we have to scratch our heads about all of it just yet.
This is the only way we’ll see the sky from a plane window for quite some time.
The future of travel sounds very…well, futuristic and advanced. The possibility of the machines taking over our lives becomes more and more realistic. I’m not sure though, how fast and if at all the airports will adjust to all those changes. For example, Manchester Airport can’t even handle escalators repairs – it takes them like 6 months. I can’t imagine them building and maintaining a disinfection tunnel. In most airports, we’ll probably only see a lot of hand sanitizers, distancing lines on the floor and people wearing masks.
But assuming that the airports, hotels and restaurants will rise to the challenge, what are other aspects you have to consider?
Travelling could be “seasonally” expensive.
No-one knows yet if ticket prices and accommodation costs will be lower or higher than before. Some experts predict that to “make up” for all the losses, the airlines or property owners might increase their prices. On the other hand, people need some good incentives and nothing is more encouraging than a sale.
There’s another problem though. There is speculation, that in case of second, third, fourth…wave of the virus, the governments will need to turn lockdown measures on and off in order to keep demands on healthcare systems at a manageable level. This means there will be windows of opportunity to travel that last only weeks. And then prices can get really high.
Insurance will be a must.
If you were neglecting this topic in the past, like I did, you might want to double or even triple check that you have insurance when travelling during post-coronavirus times. And not just any insurance. Unfortunately, most current insurance policies don’t cover events related to the outbreak of a pandemic. I’m assuming this will have to change. But in general, the best option will be insurance that allows you to recover the costs of cancelled the trips for any reason.
People won’t like you when you’re sick.
Corona or not, no one likes to sit on a plane next to someone who coughs and sneezes. The current situation will make it socially unacceptable to travel with a cold or any similar symptoms. Quite understandable, but let’s hope it won’t lead to any unpleasant situations. It’ll be definitely better for you and others if you don’t travel with any symptoms.
You’ll need more than a passport.
In the future you might need to travel with some kind of certification, stating that you’re healthy, that you have immunity (because you recovered from the virus) or that you have been vaccinated (when a vaccine is available). We shall have to wait and see how it will look.
Hmm…the future of travel doesn’t look so bright, does it? All these changes sound like a lot of work, both for people working in the travel industry and for tourists. BUT…perhaps these are all just “big words”, because no one knows what it’s all going to look like. Maybe, with a little time, we will adjust to the new reality like we did with lockdowns. There will be changes, that’s certain. And we’ll all have to adapt if we want to travel the world. Is it worth it? That’s totally up to you.
I personally can’t wait until I’m finally able to go aboard and rediscover how amazing it is to travel. We’ll all just have to be smart about it, patient and most importantly kind to one another.