What Will Post-Pandemic Travel Look Like?
Over the past two weeks, I’ve shared tales of two personal pilgrimages with you. The first was a quest to view cherry blossoms blooming, an adventure that unexpectedly transported me from my northern California hometown to the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto. The second was a journey that took me around the world without ever leaving my room—and left me blissful in Bali, surrounded by trilling, booming, gonging gamelan glories.
This week I want to focus on the future and pose a question that many of us sheltering-in-place wanderlusters have been pondering: What will travel look like going forward? Over the past few days, as I’ve been researching and considering this, I’ve realized that so much depends on how the pandemic evolves and what course the searches for a cure and a vaccine take. If some of the current promising medicines are found to be effective, that could considerably shorten the recovery timeline and significantly shape the look of post-pandemic travel.
But a few things seem to be clear: One is that hygiene and safety will be preeminent in travelers’ minds. Hotels, airlines, and cruise lines will emphasize the heightened measures they have taken to ensure the health and maximize the comfort of their travelers. Airports, too, will re-think and re-tool passenger screening and baggage-handling procedures to minimize traveler risks. Many experts believe that temperature screenings will be widespread in airports and on airplanes; others have suggested that travelers will be required to carry some form of immunity passport or health certificate.
Some pundits have predicted that chartering aircraft will see new popularity. Following a similar line of thought, others say that smaller boutique hotels, villas, and resort properties will be more enticing than large hotels and that destinations distinguished by wide-open nature and comparatively few people—think Patagonia, Antarctica, Mongolia, Alaska, and national parklands, for example—will prove especially popular.
All of these seem reasonable to me. I also think that as we have pressed pause on our daily lives, we have had a chance to re-evaluate what we do and how we do it. I believe we will apply this thinking to our travel dreams as well, that we will focus on taking trips to places that have special meaning for us, with people who have special meaning for us. I believe that we will be more cognizant of the effect we have on local environments and economies when we travel, and more conscious of the intricate net of human connections that support us whenever and wherever we go, from the airline check-in agent to the tuk-tuk driver to the cafe waiter to the craft shop owner and on and on. I think we will be more mindful, attentive, and grateful travelers.
But those are just my musings on a cloudy crystal ball. I am really wondering what you, dear fellow wanderlusters, are thinking. What do you see as the future of travel in the post-pandemic world? When do you think you will start traveling again? Where are you itching to go first, and why? Do you think your travel style will change? Do you think what you value and look for when you plan your trips will change? And what are some of the factors that will determine when you start making your travel plans?
If you’re inclined to share your thoughts on any or all of these, I’d love to hear them! Please respond in the comments section below—or email me if you prefer.
Thank you in advance for sharing—and dreaming!
Yours in abiding wanderlust,
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I truly appreciate all of your thoughts, words of encouragement, and dialogue over these past several weeks. Please continue to share your reflections below; it’s gratifying and inspiring to read your comments!