How will travel change after Coronavirus?
The question of “how will travel change after Coronavirus?” is something I’ve been thinking about since lockdown began.
For those of us for whom travel plays a big part in our lives, one of the things we’ve been missing most is the opportunity to get away. Personally, I’ve already had to cancel a two-week roadtrip through Albania, a long weekend glamping in Dorset and a visit to the Peak District. We also have future trips planned for this year, which are currently up in the air.
So it’s been hard. But being confined to the house and only being allowed to leave for our one-hour of government-approved daily exercise has also really made me reassess the way we travel.
How travel used to make me feel
I will never forget the first ever trip I made abroad. It was a weekend trip to Disneyland Paris when I was 12. I had just started studying French at school and my parents announced that we would be going on a three-day coach trip to France. The excitement we felt at being able to go to a whole different country was ridiculous.
Over the next few years my love of travel grew, but the anticipation and build up was always the same. Whether it was my first holiday abroad with my mates after college, or working at an American summer camp during university.
But over the years I’ve noticed that I’ve started to become so blasé about travelling. I began writing a travel blog and suddenly it became normal to jump on a plane for a weekend away. Or to get together for a hen do in another country and to take long roadtrips with my family. One year I even took part in a 12 trip challenge, going to 12 different places.
Looking to the future
Over time, like many people, I’d become spoilt. As travel became one of my main priorities I had savings which meant that I could book a trip at the drop of a hat. The ease and accessibility of travelling meant that I didn’t need to think about the logistics of jumping on a plane to a different country any more than I’d think about taking a train to a neighbouring city.
Just before lockdown began my family and I were about to begin a two-week trip through Albania. We had to cancel it the night before we were due to leave. While I was gutted to miss it, I also realise how lucky I was to even contemplate going on it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how attitudes towards travel are going to change over the coming years. Are we all going to rush out and jump on a plane as soon as this is over? Or are we going to try and be more mindful about trips? Choosing somewhere to visit because we really have a desire to see that place, rather than as an excuse to go away for the weekend and take lots of pretty pictures for Instagram?
Of course, none of us can know for sure, but here are some of my travel predictions for how travel will change after Coronavirus:
We’ll travel closer to home
One of the things I’ve really come to appreciate over the last few weeks is how beautiful the UK is. Of course, we’ve been lucky to have good weather and I might not be saying the same had it poured down!
But even though we’ve only been leaving our house for an hour a day to walk around our neighbourhood, I love how much it has opened my eyes to nature.
Doing the same route means that we have, perhaps for the first time, witnessed the slowly changing pace of spring. Observing different flowers popping up and dying back within the space of weeks has been a luxury we rarely have time to see.
Even my little adventurer has been commenting on it. “Look mummy, the snowdrops and tulips have gone. The bluebells are here!” These little microadventures really have become a special part of our new daily routine.
I also think once all of this is over we are going to be more keen than ever to support local businesses. It’s no secret that the economy is going to struggle when lockdown is lifted. So I think more of us are going to be thinking about where we spend our money.
I’d love to return to Wriggly Tin Huts in the South Downs, for example. Or stay another couple of nights in the cute little horsebox at Brooks Country House Hotel.
We also don’t yet know how/when travel restrictions to other countries will be lifted. So the chances are we’ll be able to explore the UK sooner than we’ll get a chance to go further afield.
We’ll think more and travel on impulse less
In the past I think it has been so easy to see a cheap flight and book it on the spot, without really considering whether it’s a place we actually want to travel to.
I must confess that there have been times that I’ve only picked up a guidebook about a place after I’ve already made the commitment to go there by buying a ticket.
However, my favourite trips have always been the ones that have been taken for a significant reason. Our honeymoon in Japan, where we chased the cherry blossoms, was, for example, one of my best holidays ever. One of the reasons for that was we planned it so carefully and many of our experiences were once-in-a-lifetime moments.
Although it’s hard to say right now, I personally see myself taking fewer, but more meaningful, trips in the future.
We’ll take trips we really care about
We all have those ‘dream trips’. Those once in a lifetime adventures that we’ve thought we’ll get round to one day. That’s how I felt about my grown up gap year trip, until I took the plunge and booked it.
I think being confined to our houses has made people think about what it is that truly makes them happy. Nine times out of ten that isn’t “stuff”. It’s spending time with family and friends and doing the things that we love.
I think this pandemic has also made many of us realise that life is short. Seeing some of the stories of loss in the media has been heart-breaking.
Many of us will already be making mental lists about things we’d like to do once lockdown is lifted and taking that long-dreamed about trip may just be one of them.
We’ll be more conscious of the environment
One of the more positive views of this world-wide situation is seeing how quickly the natural world has started to recover from the damage we cause it. How amazing has it been to see animals returning to the canals in Venice? Air pollution in countries such as China and India has dropped drastically, which will in turn save countless more lives.
I hope in future more of us will feel socially responsible for the places we visit. Whether that’s choosing to book through sustainable companies or looking for ways to lower our carbon emissions when we travel.
We’ll appreciate travel more
I think this is definitely something most of us will feel. I hope that going forward I will never again take for granted getting on a plane or a train and being able to travel to another country.
I hope that I’ll be able to stress to my little adventurer what a luxury it is to be able to travel.
I hope that even on the hard days I’ll remember what it was like to be stuck indoors and I’ll try to appreciate every moment.
But most of all, I hope that I’ll never be as spoilt about travel again.
So there’s my predictions. What are yours for how will travel change after Coronavirus?
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Enjoyed your thoughtful piece. And it made me think about the places I really want to travel too outside the UK, the places outside the UK I’ve enjoyed and always want to revisit and re explore. In my case that’s Paris, Athens and New New York. I know that may seem conventional for a travel writer but I love revisiting old haunts to find new and undiscovered corners. And as far as long haul is concened, I do like to revisit my home town, New York, every now and then. It will be interesting how I feel about getting on a plane with hundreds of others when this is all over.