The media. The travel companies. The travel experts. Blogger friends. The people. THE INTERNET. All sorts.
Who knows what’s true? Who knows what will actually happen? At the start of the year no one could’ve predicted the current situation, so who can even imagine what will happen once we’re allowed to travel again?
Turns out there are plenty of opinions and pontifications out there though. And last week, I read them all.
I’m at that stage where I’m ready for the future of travel, and I just want to know what that will look like – hazmat suits, face masks, empty middle seats, and all.
Current state of travel
Right now, 18th May 2020, the Foreign Office is advising against all non-essential overseas travel. Holidays, backpacking adventures and weekends away, are, of course, non essential.
This means that even if you do desperately want to go to say, Barcelona, for your jollies, or even to see your brother and sister in law (like me), you can’t. You’d be breaking the lockdown rules.
If you travel against FCO advice your travel insurance is most likely invalidated – pretty stupid idea during a pandemic. Even worse though, be seen piling your suitcases into the car and your neighbours will judge you. You will be ostracised on your return. They’ll probably even tell the Daily Mail.
For some reason there are still flights leaving and returning to the UK, but I genuinely can’t imagine who’s on them. WizzAir is currently running flights between Budapest, Lisbon, Bratislava and Belgrade – apparently just for cargo.
Some countries are letting people in and out, although there are strict rules around entry and exit. For example, Canada – one of my favourite countries – says you must have watertight proof that you have a place to isolate for two weeks when you arrive. If you don’t, you’ll be sent home. And if you break it, you’ll be fined over £400k.
There’s a glimmer of hope coming in from Georgia and Greece – who both claim to open their doors, quarantine free, in June / early July. But we shall see.
So, that’s now.
What about the future of travel?
I’ve condensed hours of research into these easy to read points, for what the future of travel may look like. Last week I read the internet, the newspapers, and took part in a few webinars with travel experts too.
Here are the basics…
Where to go post Coronavirus
1. Obviously we’re all going to be paying attention to the virus numbers in a destination when it comes to choosing our holiday country. I feel it’s rich for me to type that I’d be wary of some, given that I’d be travelling from the UK – and we’re on a trajectory to be the worst numbers in Europe. But, I won’t be going to Wuhan anytime soon.
The rate of infection in a country is surely going to be a deciding factor in whether or not it makes our want to travel to list.
2. I’ve read that holidaymakers want to go to smaller, less busy destinations – to avoid the crowds – but then, I don’t know how they’re going to get there. Less airlines and less passengers means less destinations unfortunately. To get off the beaten track you’ll have to use even more transport – perhaps renting cars is the answer?
3. For the immediate future staycations seem the obvious answer. Of course I couldn’t have imagined what was about to happen when I set up my new site Day Out in England in January. Now though, it seems absolutely on trend. Everyone will want to travel closer to home.
We’ve been traumatised by the news stories of Brits stuck abroad – no one wants that if there’s a second outbreak. Travel in England is going to be all the more popular.
4. Unfortunately this will mean overtourism to small coastal communities, and pretty villages. We can expect a whole new pandora’s box of problems in places like Cornwall, the Peak District, Brighton, the Cotswolds and the Lake District. The UK’s beauty spots will need to adapt to be able to take the influx of visitors.
Feel free to come down to Southsea though – we have a great beach and a few businesses are open. Even the toilets on the seafront are open!
5. Groups of countries are forming alliances to allow residents to visit each. The Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are opened up to each other as of Friday, for example. And apparently us Brits are allowed to France – but with our notoriously contentious relationship, will they even want us?
Before you book a trip in the future
6. Companies are already adapting to flexible booking policies. One of my favourite websites to look at, although I don’t actually think I’ve ever booked anything, is Holiday Pirates. Over the last few weeks the message they’ve been pushing is that you can cancel bookings, rather than leading with price which was the norm.
7. Rather than location and quality of bed – basically what I look for – people will find the booking policies more important in their holiday search. We all need the security of being able to cancel holidays, and get a full refund. Of course this is better for the consumer, but travel providers will suffer.
8. At the start of the virus affecting travels there was much talk on Twitter about the companies that do the ‘decent’ thing. The ones that let you travel. I saw a few infuriated bloggers compiling lists like this one, to reward companies that reimbursed individuals. Companies who were able to look after their customers will be remembered in frequent traveller circles. Price won’t be the most important thing, but reassurance and customer service.
9. I think people will have to look into the terms and conditions of their travel insurance more. Will it cover them for a second outbreak? How much will you get back? Policies offering travel insurance for any reason will be on the rise. Check yours now so you know what it covers.
10. Vaccinations are a huge topic. Estimates for when there actually will be one for Coronavirus vary greatly. Some countries may have to wait until there’s a vaccine until they open again – and even then they’ll only let visitors in who’ve had it. Y’know those Yellow Fever passports to get into Kenya? It’ll be like that.
Reports say that there’s no way festivals will be a thing again, until we have vaccine. Making the 130+ festival blog posts on this site redundant.
How corona virus affected my travels
Lucky for me I didn’t have too much planned, for the first time in years. Weirdly after returning from my trip to Japan in January I knew it was time for me to chill at home for a while – I definitely didn’t mean six months though.
Family press trip to a villa in Cornwall – postponed indefinitely
Personal solo week on the Scilly Islands – cancelled and had only booked the transport with Isle of Scilly Travel, which was first refunded with credit, and then actual cash
Press trip for a week to Grenada in the Caribbean, to the Chocolate Festival – will hopefully go in 2021
I wanted to go to 20 UK festivals in 2020 – I’d bought a few festival tickets, all of which I’ve left in the ‘pot’ as credit for next year
Weekend in Margate with my friend – we’ll meet again!
Road trip week in Albania in July with two friends – still waiting a refund on my flight and 1 of the night’s accommodation.
Pin for later?
What to take on holiday post virus
11. Our holiday packing lists will change. Face masks for the journey from the front door to our doors at our destinations seems the first most obvious change. I know Spain has made it mandatory for the public to wear them on public transport.
And, on the flight, Wizz Air, Air France and KLM have said masks are now mandatory. Wizz Air is providing free masks to start.
12. I’ll definitely be taking wipes with me, and gloves, and sanitiser. Even if it’s just for the airport. Things like a travel Berkey water filter will help you to feel safer in new destinations.
Food and travelling after Covid-19
Surely one of the top pleasures of travel is to eat. To try the different cuisines around the world, and see how different cultures do food. How will this change?
13. Buffets are out. I never really liked them anyway TBH – ever since I was violently ill on the street in Banjul in the Gambia, after eating at the outdoors hotel buffet. I can’t imagine people wanting to touch food that’s been around other hands and germs being a popular choice. Much better to go a la carte.
– This was the actual buffet that caused me to projectile in front of a bunch of guys who were cat calling me, ha!
14. Some destinations are employing a new hygiene rating, to assure potential holidaymakers of the cleanliness. Heightened sanitation is really important, from food suppliers to on the table. Restaurants and hotels are going to have to adapt to this, and show it’s being done.
15. I do worry about the wonderful food markets around the world – especially in Asia. Wet Markets are disgusting and need to be shut down. But, I hope the negativity doesn’t have any kind of effect on the business of street markets in Asia – they’re a huge part of their culture and I don’t want tourists to be put off. I think travellers will be more wary of the food they eat, and where it comes from.
16. In the past I’ve been a vegetarian as I’ve travelled. If you’d been as ill as I have around the world, you’d know why. I think we’ll see selective travelling vegetarianism more in the future of travel as holidaymakers fear meat, and the threat of infectious diseases.
17. If group villa holidays become more of a thing (see below), then so will getting food takeaway deliveries on holiday, rather than going out to restaurants. Local independent businesses are getting on the delivery apps to keep their businesses afloat right now.
At the airport and on the plane
18. There is much talk online about how the airport experience will change – it has to. I think at the very basics we can expect longer queues, longer waiting time, and more frustrated passengers. I feel that air travel brought out the worst of people before the virus, who knows what they’ll be like in the future.
Imagine the thought of sitting in an aisle seat while someone pushes their crotch in your face as they try to put their bag up top. Eugh, eugh, eugh. I mean, that was bad before. Dunno why it just popped into my head.
19. Airport tech will have to advance – as it already has at Hong Kong International Airport. Suggestions online include being subjected to UV lights to kill germs, being disinfected as you board the plane, thermal detection body screening, and full body scans. Also, having to get virus tests there and then to board the plane.
20. There’s a lot of talk about the middle seat being empty on the plane, but, from my time working at Flight Centre, I know what small margins these airlines work on. Judging by the news they’re already on the verge of collapse, get rid of the money from that middle seat and someone will have to pay for it.
Air travel will have to become more expensive. I feel I’d want a full hazmat suit to go on any kind of plane right now. And a nappy.
You’re gonna have to arrive at the airport early.
The future of activities abroad
So we’re there, we’ve decided where to go, made it through the journey to the airport, the airport and the flight, what do we do when we’re abroad in the future? Holidays are already sounding pretty bleak according to these travel experts to be honest.
How will crowded activities work now? I’m thinking the pushing at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, walking round the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and touring in a group at the Sydney Opera House – what do we do about all those… people?
21. There’s going to be strict crowd limitation measures, they’re going to have to cut down on the amount of people they let in, and some tourist attractions may have to stay open later to get through the crowd queue, and to make enough money to be financially viable. What will this mean for struggling world historical sites?
22. Hiking and biking holidays seem like the obvious way to get away from the crowds, but as we’ve seen in Norway and Iceland – too many hikers are difficult to manage and kinda ruin the isolation. We will need to spread out – not everyone has to get a photo at Iceland’s Skogagoss waterfall, there are genuinely 10,000 other waterfalls in Iceland to explore.
23. National parks, trails and more isolated outdoor activities will be the first things to open again, but to whose detriment? As more wannabe holidaymakers seek solace, those places become overrun.
Other guests in the future
Eugh, people. We’ve been actively avoiding them for months, how can we suddenly go back to our care free ways making friends on holiday again?
24. In TUI’s 10 point plan for holidays post lockdown they’re introducing a distance rule. Brits have to be two metres from each other, and German’s 1.5 metres. I mean… seriously? How the fudge is that going to work?
25. Sun loungers will need to be far apart – but how do you go over and move them? Restaurant tables will need space between them, and any sports and entertainment styles will have to change. Kids clubs? I just don’t know. That photo of the kids in France given squares to play in was heartbreaking.
Who to go on holiday with when this is over?
26. Who you want to go on holiday post virus with will very much depend on how you spent your lockdown. I’m spending mine with my boyfriend Ben, and housemate, friend and fellow blogger, Emily. For this reason I can’t wait to see my family, and get away with them. And Ben of course.
27. We’re going to see a rise in multi-generational trips in villas. That’s what I want to do anyway. Villas seem cleaner to me – you’re containing the germs and it’s just you and your loved ones, rather than 100 others from all over the world. Big hotels are definitely not appealing to me right now. All those hands, and germs, and sneezes, and colds. Nope.
28. For others, I’m sure there are couples who cannot WAIT to drop their kids off at their grandparents and get as far away from them as possible. Money saved in lockdown will go on the bucket list trip of their lives. I think holidaymakers will be looking at the quality of a trip, rather than the quantity – given that airports and planes are such undesirable places to be right now.
29. Post corona and some people will be better off than they have been for years, with jobs or furlough money and nothing to spend it on. While others will be absolute budget after so many financial changes during lockdown. I don’t see how we can make sweeping statements about everyone being poorer, or richer after lockdown. I feel holiday budgets will be the same spectrum as before: varied.
30. There’ll be a splurge on bucket list trips to celebrate the end of lockdown.
31. There’ll also be an interest inbudget trips to just get away – cheap as possible for all the family.
32. I can’t imagine what this will mean for the backpacking industry – how can you stay in a large dorm room, sleeping so close to others after all this?
Holiday length after lockdown
33. With so many people out of work, anyone with a bit of money can start to spend a good amount of time abroad. I’m sure some people will just want to get away for as long as possible.
34. If destinations have 14-day quarantines, only travellers with a decent amount of time to spend in a destination are going to be able to enjoy them. And even if that comes down in the future, say to 7, it’s going to be the same. Only the time rich will be able to travel in the immediate future. People like travel bloggers, who just want to get away and would love to spend a long time in one place.
35. In the UK, if other countries let us in and we don’t have to quarantine (like Georgia is suggesting) then what about when we come back? We’d have to arrange two weeks off work, or working from home, just to have the government enforced isolation time.
Where to stay
36. So we’ve already said villas over hotels, because of the GERMS. You just have more control. All the predictions, and common senses, say that people will stay in the same place. There used to be these horrific sounding tours where you’d do like 30 countries in 20 days – I think they’ll be over for a while.
37. The foreseeable future of travel looks like it’ll be one location, for as long as possible. No more country hopping or overly complicated itineraries.
38. Hotels, if they open, will have to operate at a reduced capacity, like planes. Unfortunately this surely means that the cost will be passed on to you. Travel will have to become more expensive.
Responsible tourism and sustainability
Covid-19 has changed our world forever. Before the virus, if I remember correctly, you couldn’t look at the news without seeing what Greta Thunberg was up to. We were challenging climate change and progress was apparently being made, although, not fast enough.
I don’t know what Greta thinks about the virus. But, we must be able to see that this has been an unimaginable break for the environment. We’ve seen the reports of the colour of the water in Venice, and the dolphins in Turkey, even the water in my city of Portsmouth has made the news. The planet is cleaner, and refreshed.
39. I hope that travel after the virus will retain some responsible travel methods, but I do fear that as travel companies have been so damaged and hit, it could be a free-for-all to work out how to get money again. It’s down to us as consumers to demand that things change, and only choose to go with companies who have a responsible tourism element to their practices.
40. We’re going to have to come back gently, with respect for the animals who’ve moved into the space.
41. I hope there will also be a push in supporting local businesses, to help them get back on their feet.
Frequency of travel
Will people travel more, because of the relief of getting out there again to make up for lost time? Or less, out of fear and worry? What do you think?
42. My instinct tells me less for longer.
When can we travel again?
I hate to break it to you, if you hadn’t seen this already, but our favourite holiday destinations are beyond our reach for the next few months. You can check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s up to date travel advice at gov.uk, but here’s a quick overview to keep your expectations realistic.
[UPDATE 19th May: I’m not going to update with every bit of news, but worth noting that Slovenia is now open for travel, with no expected quarantine – for EU countries that is. The word begins with ‘F’ and ends in ‘ing’ Brexit.]
FRANCE: Not open to holidaymakers. Predicted to open on July 24th.
SPAIN: Tourists cannot visit. Spain’s ‘state of alarm’ is due to end on May 24th, but unsure when it will open to tourists.
ITALY: Requires a 14-day quarantine. Predicted to know more on 3rd June.
GREECE: They’re hoping to be one of the first countries to open – expect to hear more from June 15th.
TURKEY: Closed to tourists. Find out more in August, at the earliest.
AMERICA: Severe restrictions all round. No idea when it will open again.
June 15th seems a magical date – we’ll know more then.
The future of travel post Corona
And we haven’t even got onto cruising – Branson chose an interesting time to launch the Scarlet Lady ship – or group travel, or swimming pools, or what about that classic Brit favourite – karaoke? How do we share a microphone?
Backpacking, group holidays, hen and stag parties, European breaks, resort holidays – they’re all going to have to change post virus. We will be able to travel, but it’ll take a long time to be like it was.
What do you think?
I’ve obviously covered a lot of points in here. I just want to highlight that no one can predict the future, but all of this comes from extensive reading and various destination and travel company webinars I’ve been in this week.
I’d be really interested to know what you think!