The coronavirus pandemic has impacted travel dramatically. Most countries around the world slammed their borders shut to tourists starting in March and are only now slowly and cautiously reopening to international tourists.
So many of us – especially those who work within or alongside the tourism industry – are itching to get back on the road.
But what will travel even look like once we are able to do it again? Will we ever have another spontaneous night out in a new city dancing in backpacker bars and bonding with new hostel friends? How about flying in planes or taking public transport – will we feel safe enough to do those things?
What is the future of travel?
I decided to pose this very question to six travel bloggers/travel industry experts and am excited to share their responses with you here. So here’s what they see for the future of travel, good and bad:
“Although so much is uncertain right now, one thing is for sure, the way we travel is changing.
“Now is the time to explore your city, state, and region. Or plan that epic cross-country road trip you’ve always wanted to go on with your family and friends. For the foreseeable future, I see domestic travel and road trips increasing in popularity. This is the Golden Age of local travel.
“In the anticipation of the summer months, RVs have become so popular that they are becoming difficult to find. I can see the appeal. Your living quarters are with you at all times. You save on lodging costs, unnecessary exposure, and you can stop whenever and wherever you like – shorten your stay or extend it.
“Unfortunately, until there are more safety measures put in place to guarantee the safety of passengers, people are not going to want to fly or cruise for a long time. I do not have any plans to fly for the rest of 2020, and 2021 is questionable.”
“I don’t think travel is going to recover from this pandemic any time soon.
“Sure, borders will reopen and travel will restart but far too many travel businesses have closed and far too many people are now unemployed/don’t have the money to travel. That means, even when travel does restart it will be a much smaller industry. Fewer people will be traveling for the next couple of years (especially if there is no vaccine).
“With that in mind, I think domestic travel is going to be prioritized for many countries (including the USA). Road trips, national park visits, RV rentals, hiking, camping — these are going to be much more popular as we readjust to the new normal. Which, I think, is a good thing. Less overtourism and more appreciation for nature could have a profound impact not just on the travel industry but on the sustainability movement as a whole.”
“I think we’re going to see a lot more restrictions at airports, more health concerns at airports, more ‘red tape’ to flying…I also think prices for flights are gonna skyrocket, which sucks, and may limit a lot of international travel.
“Hopefully, I’ll be in Mexico before that — so yes, I do intend to travel this summer! Hopefully, I’ll travel this summer, stay in one country abroad and do work, then come back to the United States for the fall where I have lots of conferences.
“For this summer, I see a lot of domestic travel, national parks…and actually I see national parks being way too full this summer. I think everyone has the same idea of going to national parks!”
“As we are all aware, travel is changing. And while everything might all seem a bit negative at the moment, I do believe that there are some positive changes to travel that will come out of this pandemic.
“First of all, overtourism was definitely becoming a massive problem. Cities, islands, and even countries were receiving more tourists than their ancient sites, narrow streets and natural beauty could handle.
“We’ve already heard of some destinations making changes to the way they will receive tourists going forward, which is great. As travellers, I think people are taking a step back and are considering sustainability when it comes to how (and where) they want to travel going forward.
“I also believe there will be less of a focus on group tours and tourism, and it’ll shift towards independent travel.
“People won’t want to be surrounded by others for a while, so I think this is a good chance for small businesses to step up and take a bigger piece of the tourism pie. Think one-off accommodation options on Airbnb and small boutiques rather than all-inclusive resorts and larger hotel chains.
“Small companies, local tour guides and private drivers will be chosen over a large group tour or a tour bus. Or, people will simply avoid tours altogether and choose to travel completely independent and be fully self-contained by hiring a campervan, or a rental car and sleeping in a tent.”
“The future of travel may change in a few ways, but I’m hoping one significant change is a deeper appreciation. Now, most people know what it’s like to not be allowed to travel, so when things clear up and people starting exploring again, I hope we’ll all have a deeper appreciation for every adventure.
“I think tons of people perceive travel as a luxury vacation on the beach with a cocktail in hand. While that can be one way to do it, I believe travel is less of a physical act and more of a mindset. To me, travel is the idea of being open-minded. It’s the mentality of being ready to experience something new. I feel travel is most effective and worthwhile when you live outside the comfort zone.
“I want the future of travel to be positive. It will take some time for things to get moving again and I know many businesses in the travel industry will be struggling for a while. But my biggest hope is that people who do decide to travel soon will simply appreciate everything.”
“As full-time travelers, the future of travel is something stressful to think about. With so much uncertainty about how and when things will open, here are our two cents:
“Change 1: Face masks are a requirement all around the world before entering businesses and attractions, but now most airlines are requiring passengers to wear face masks. I think that even way after COVID becomes less of a threat, the requirement for face masks will stay for years to make people feel safe after such a hit to the tourism industry.
“Another change that I’m not thrilled about is how long it’s going to take to make it through the airport. I’m not just talking hygiene. I’m talking allotting extra time for temperature checks, social distancing lines, new security check protocol, and in some airports even disinfection stations. Not to mention new paperwork we have to fill out for quarantine officials at airports. Travel will be more of a hassle than ever before, but in the same breath, you’ll have places to yourself! So buck up, buttercup. Change is coming and who knows, it might be for the better. Are you ready for it?”
So! To recap, when it comes to the future of travel, our experts predict…
- Domestic travel as opposed to international travel
- Flying will become more expensive and more of a hassle
- An increase in interest in RV’s and national parks
- More mindful and sustainable travel
- People won’t take travel for granted anymore
- Less overtourism
- More opportunities for small travel businesses as opposed to big tour companies
What do you think? How do you see travel changing — in good ways and bad — in the future?