2020 has been painfully life-changing for everyone. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to reset our ways, routines and lifestyle.
Regular travelers have hunkered down for most part of the year and the prolonged period staying at home has increased the desire to escape.
People are craving wide open spaces after months of suffering from cabin fever. 2021 may be the period of "make-up travel" or "revenge travel."
With the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine, people are likely to start venturing out and travelling may slowly return but travel will never be the same again. The coronavirus scare will stay for a long time.
We will have to adjust to the "new normal" such as wearing face masks, frequent hand washing, social distancing and practicing heightened personal hygiene.
Expect stricter requirements especially in airports and other points of arrival and departure. Wearing face masks the whole time, the prospect of having to undergo Covid-19 testing, vaccination, filling up health forms, the possibility of quarantine and the overall scare of contacting the virus is real and will stay for longer than we think.
Here are some ways Covid-19 is changing the way we travel.
As countries slowly and cautiously reopen their borders and welcome travelers back this year, places of interest may not be as crowded as before. The pandemic will change the way people plan vacations. They will become more cautious about booking flights, hotels and attractions and go for those that are flexible and refundable in case travel dates have to be adjusted.
Travelers may also lean toward a preference in destinations. This means people may start looking more into outdoor attractions with wide open spaces like national parks, and formerly crowded popular destinations like theme parks may be seeing fewer visitors. Lines will be shorter and social distancing can be practiced.
Travelers will have heightened interest in safety and hygiene protocols. Socially unacceptable habits like coughing and sneezing without covering your mouth openly in public places will no longer be excusable.
Cruises may not be available for a while. Most cruise lines have canceled and pushed their cruise schedules for later part of this year.
It may take years before you'll feel comfortable again in hotels, restaurants, airports, bus and train stations and public places. It will take time before people will relax about taking public transportation, which is the most practical way to get around in most countries.
The carefree easy days when you can just buy tickets and fly at the spur of the moment to anywhere as long as you have no visa issues to deal with are paused.
The freedom to hop from one country to another and crossing borders so easily like in Southeast Asia will no longer be that easy.
Cultural immersion, mingling and sampling food with the locals and shopping for trinkets and souvenir items in different places will definitely change. If you're one of those travelers who live for the festivals and popular celebrations, you might have to wait a bit longer and most likely not this year.
Travelers should also prepare to spend more for expenses that weren't there before like Covid-19 tests, hotel stays and for quarantine accommodations in case you turn up positive with the virus.
The wounds that the coronavirus inflicted goes deep and the bleeding hasn't stopped yet. It will take years to recover but it won't stop people from traveling.
Be careful but don't be paranoid. Learn to relax and enjoy but don't forget the latest addition to your list of travel partners--facemasks, hand sanitizers, covid-19-related documents, and an extra layer of personal hygiene practices.