According to the vacation rental booking platform Vrbo, 82% of families already have travel plans for 2021 and many say that going on a trip would improve their mental health. It’s certainly a luxury that got taken away from us very quickly and is something we’re looking forward to getting back to (if you haven’t already).
Here we will discuss what society used as substitutes when travel wasn’t possible, what traveling currently looks like as well as how you can safely enjoy your next trip in the upcoming year as more opens back up and vaccines finally become available to the masses.
Society’s Substitutes for Travel When Lockdowns Kept Us Home
Social distancing measures and lockdowns were a necessary means to keeping both ourselves and others safe. In turn, the rise of virtual video communication happened practically overnight, with Zoom calls and “House Party” game nights providing us with the social connection we craved. Heck, it was even bringing together friends and family who hadn’t seen each other in years when there wasn’t a pandemic to keep them apart. Though this option quickly made us realize how much we took hugs and in-person quality-time for granted, for most of us it was a best-case scenario we were happy to have. It served as a substitute for special gatherings as dates like Easter, birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled on by.But what ways were we able to scratch our travel itch in a time when we had no idea when it would be safe to do so again?The term “armchair travel” has exploded since March 2020, but the idea isn’t anything new.
What once perhaps had a negative connotation (an armchair traveler is typically someone who may offer advice and opinions about destinations even though they have little experience themselves) has really turned into a way for people to experience the outside world without leaving their homes. In essence, it has allowed for the mental break travel provides…without the actual traveling.
These are some ways we were able to armchair travel our way through Covid:
- View from My Window – The view from our own windows got old very quickly, which spurred Facebook groups and websites like WindowSwap to give the world the opportunity to get a view out somebody else’s window for a literal change of scenery.
- Watching Travel Programs – For many of us, a tropical adventure was never a reality anyway, which is why travel programs have always been popular in satisfying our wanderlust appetites. Binging YouTube videos from travel vlogs was also a popular way for people to feel like they could escape for a bit from their everyday life stuck at home.
- Virtual Tours – According to the American Alliance of Museums, virtual reality is finally becoming commonplace for museums. Whereas it was once impossible to experience a museum like the V&A, the world’s leading museum of art and design, without actually traveling to London, anyone in the world can now gain access into the museum’s first ever virtual reality event. Zoos, theme parks, aquariums, and famous architecture such as the Eiffel tower also came alive for people through virtual tours.
As helpful as many of these online experiences were to help us feel a bit more normal in a time that was anything but, it could never replace real travel. For those who traveled more frequently pre-Covid, it was likely much more of a challenge holding off. Some chose to travel much sooner than others would have felt comfortable with.
Repercussions for Choosing to Travel
True “stay-at-home” orders did not last long in the United States, which meant air travel opened back up far sooner than many would have liked. Others, however, saw an opportunity to “get out of Dodge” and seized it before state representatives could call take-backsides.
Lulls in Covid-19 cases certainly gave people a feeling of more protection, but even when cases were near their lowest points, such as in August and September 2020, there was still plenty of risk. A risk some were willing to take that others saw as irresponsible.
Making a choice to get on a plane and fly across state borders also meant possibly having to quarantine for 14 days upon returning from the trip. Which for some, was worth it.
Others opted for in-state road trips which was the lower-risk option many turned to as a way to get away for a bit while still trying to follow CDC recommendations.
Now that multiple vaccines are available and are being rolled-out in phases to the adult population, dreams of travel and what that might look like is something that is on many people’s minds.
How the Pandemic Will Change Future Travel?
One thing is for certain, life and travel as we know it may never look the same as it did pre-Covid. Even once the vaccine is available to everyone, coronavirus won’t be gone for good, unfortunately. According to an Associated Press article published in March 2021, “many experts believe it’s likely the disease will eventually ease from a crisis to a nuisance like the common cold.”
Because there are still so many questions about the direction the disease could take and how long it might take for it to diminish, travelers, as well as tourist destinations, will understandably be cautious for quite some time.
Though it’s hard to predict exactly how travel will change as the months go by, here are some ways you can expect travel to look differently than it did in the past:
Health Screenings – Temperature checks, answering Covid questionnaires, and getting Covid tests are something we’ve gotten fairly used to at this point. And if you want to get back to traveling, you’re probably going to have to just go with the flow on this one. It’s a small price to pay to get to finally go somewhere and help keep people safe. We also shouldn’t be surprised if showing proof of vaccine allows us to do even more.
- More Frequent Cleaning – I think this is one we are all happy to get behind, am I right? I think the future of travel will include a lot more cleaning and sanitation, which will decrease the likelihood of getting sick on vacation from all illnesses (not just Covid).
- Large Gatherings Won’t Be Back Right Away – If you’ve traveled in the past to events such as concerts or sports’ games, you may need to opt for something else for a bit longer.
- Masks – It’s hard to know how long we’ll have to wear masks. But for now, expect to wear one for the indefinite future.
How Travelers Can Aim to Have a Great Vacation When Getting Back to Travel?
Even with more and more people becoming vaccinated every day and it being an important tool in getting our society back to normal, scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent the virus spreading to others. And that means it’s important to stay cautious as you embark on your travel through 2021.
These are our top recommendations for traveling safely while finally being able to go on that getaway you have been longing for:
Wait until everyone in your party is vaccinated. We recommend waiting to head out for that vacation you’ve been dreaming of until everyone is vaccinated (except perhaps the children). This will give you your best defense against contracting Covid during your vacation and bringing it back home to where it could infect someone else. We think you’ll be able to enjoy your trip a lot more knowing your vaccine has kicked in.
Book travel through an agent. Nerdwallet shares that customer satisfaction of online travel agencies was at an all-time low in 2020 and that people may be better off booking through a travel agent since they can get you a curated trip you’ll enjoy while offering a better cancellation policy.
Explore the great outdoors. Many of you have likely already been doing this during Covid and we think it’s the perfect way to continue to travel, explore places you’ve never been and keep yourself safe. Fishing, camping and hiking will continue to be options that can offer the perfect getaway.
Stick to domestic travel. Traveling internationally will continue to be tricky at best, at least for a while. You’re much better off staying within your home country for now.
Consider private travel. It’s likely that you’ll continue to feel uncomfortable around crowds even after you get the vaccine, so private travel may be a great way to go. Staying in a vacation rental or an RV might be exactly what you’re looking for.
And if you’re wondering if this is the year to take that dream trip, it may be time to say yes. Covid stopped us all in our tracks and made many of us realize what is truly important. Perhaps you’ve been saying for years you’ll take that dream trip, never quite feeling ready to take the plunge. With life being one big unknown, many are feeling ready to make it happen.