I think we can all agree, we want to feel a little less apocalyptic. For some, that means getting back on a plane and hearing, “In preparation for departure, be certain that your seat back is straight up and your tray table is stowed.”
Last year I went on 15 international flights and the year prior I was on 20 international flights. So far for 2020, my flying amount has been whittled down to two. Which was right after the New Year, before countries closed their borders.
Like many other wanderlusters, we are all curious to know. When will we be able to travel again?
When will travel return?
The short (and unpopular) answer is. Currently, there’s no absolute date. In travel forums from around of the world. Many have expressed their struggles of previously book flights from now to September. Have all been canceled by the airlines.
So, the question needs to be rephrased.
It’s not a question of when, but what.
What has to happen before we can travel for leisure?
Before we are allowed to travel beyond our local grocery stores. Restrictions need to be lifted.
The WHO has issued 6 conditions that governments should meet prior to lifting restrictions.
- controlled disease transmission
- capable & efficient health care systems to test, trace cases, isolated & care for
- minimized risk in hot spots areas
- proper preventative measures are practiced in places of business, schools and essential areas
- the capability to manage new imported cases
- communities are fully educated on how to live under a new normal
But we know and it’s clearly apparent. Not all lifting restriction actions are aligning with the WHO.
What is reopening?
In early 2020, countries around the world issued travel bans, closed their borders and locked down their internal systems. Yet, not all went the same route. Some went in stages, others went all in, and others took a different approach altogether (Sweden, I’m looking at you).
For those in partial or all lockdown scenarios. It’s logical to assume, that businesses and borders will reopen in stages and with caveats.
A good indicator that we are getting a bit closer to traveling. Will be the obvious. Which is, the re-opening of businesses (office, services, gyms, retail, food and beverage), schools, parks and areas of recreation.
Florida recently reopened its beaches in Jacksonville. They enforced social distancing, no laying out and congregating. All under the watchful eye of police officers.
Restaurants in Hong Kong have reopened with certain changes. Restaurants staff are taking temperature checks of their patrons before entry. They only allow a certain number of people in, everyone must wear a mask when not eating and drinking and tables are spaced out from one another.
As evident, social distancing measures will be in affect when areas reopen to the public.
But I need a vacation.
Domestic and International Travel
It’s no doubt domestic travel will be released prior to countries universally lifting their borders for international travel.
While domestic flights won’t appeal to some. Many will want and need a vacation.
Enter road trips and camping.
The outdoor life will peek many interests, because it’s the safer, easy and more affordable. Plus, these types of trips, answer to the rule of social distancing.
It’s easy to predict, that 2020 will be the year for camping and road trips. Start ordering (and invest in the following stocks) REI, YETI, Patagonia, camping and outdoors adventure gear.
International traveling rules will differ globally. It’s safe to say, countries could possibly issue new visa rules. Airports around the world, may implement new health screens, cleaning measures and behaviors on airplanes may look and feel different.
Airlines are adding health scans.
Emirates Airlines have begun conducting on-site COVID-19 testing that provide immediate results of passengers. Testing has started on a flight from Dubai to Tunisia. Alongside other changes, passengers are required to wear masks throughout the boarding and flight process. Inflight magazines have been eliminated and carry on luggage is no longer permitted.
Etihad Airways have issued a self health check in contactless service. These kiosks can monitor ones temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate.
Travel Life Restructured.
What other changes in travel, could we expect?
It’s possible to assume, we may need to factor in more time when figuring out, when we must arrive to the airport. Upon arriving to the airport, we may have to run through a gauntlet of additional prerequisites just to get to the gate.
Much like Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines conducting health screening. We may see additional airlines implementing similar health screenings.
Visas on arrival and visa free countries could also change. In early 2020, Thailand and Indonesia put a hard stop on certain type of visas. Thus, future requests from countries, for visas could be an additional process that wasn’t needed before. Because of Covid-19, some countries could restricted travelers coming through because they are arriving from a country that’s a hotspot for Covid-19.
Which may lead to countries requiring a health certificate given by health authorities from the travelers respective countries. When a vaccine is ready and available, it could be made mandate that passengers be vaccinated prior to entry for certain countries.
We could also see landing cards inquiring about you and Covid-19. Questions could be, have you been previously infected and treated? Were you in close contact with those infected? Are you in the healthcare industry where you were in close contact with the ‘rona?
And then, upon arrival (to your destination or back home), a 14 day stay at home, self isolation could be required.
How can the tourist industry encourage travel?
Cleanliness will be the name of the game. And it will be up to PR and marketing campaigns to carry out that message.
Time to bring in the white gloves and UV black lights!
In order to boost consumer confidence and trust. Companies in the tourist industry will want to hone in their efforts of proper sanitary procedures as well as market those changes strategically and effectively.
Forbes just released an article how Marriott hotels are leveling up their cleanliness game, by using hospital grade disinfectant. They are also creating ways for services to be a contactless frontdesk. Such as, being able to check-in by using your smartphone and order room service.
Not only will airports and airlines want ensure public sanitary measures, but so will trains, rental car services, and tour busses. Basically, any company in the tourist industry will need to (take notes on D.Trump on how to) brag about their cleanliness. But more importantly, actually do it.
It’s easy to assume airlines will go after the low hanging fruit. For example, how their filtration systems are superior to competing airlines.
To keep with social distancing, it will be interesting to see if airlines refrain from assigning the middle seats, and keep them vacant. Which brings up the question, of profit. If middle seats are vacant, what will airlines increase in costs in order to be profitable? The obvious, is increased cost in everything that already has a price. But what about the things that don’t. E.g. carry on luggage?
Don’t forget about travel insurance. If a traveler hasn’t used travel insurance prior to Covid-19. You best believe, many will make sure they have it going forward, 100%.
Which, now is the perfect opportunity for travel insurance companies to beef up their services. Travel insurance should be anticipating, what could be the new norm of travel needs in the immediate future. And what new services will be needed to personally match a travelers needs.
Let’s not forget the holiday gift giving time. Or the answers to, “what to gift a traveler?” Expect to see retailers selling the new essential travel kit. Complete with all the other essential travel accessories, these new travel kits will include a mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, seat / arm and head rest wipes.
What companies will emerge from this?
After 911, airport security was ramped up. And new companies arrived on the scene that provided solutions to enabling seamless travel for the frequent traveler. Companies like, Clear and Global Entry eased travelers wait time by cut the line passes. Making it a frictionless way to travel.
Only time will tell what future travel will look like and all its’ new intricacies. So, it will sure be interesting to see what new companies emerge to ease traveling challenges.
What should be considered prior to planning your next trip.
As mentioned. There isn’t a finite date on when we will be able to travel again. When we are given the green light. It’s prudent to do all the research prior to booking flights. Such as, checking which borders are open and what the new restrictions are. Being up to date on your home countries travel advisories, your destinations travel restrictions and advisories, and updated visa requirements.
Don’t forget to consider your health, the health of others you are visiting, and the health care systems availability, status and capabilities in your destination. As well as your travel insurance and having a clear understanding of exactly what is covered and especially was is NOT covered.
Now that we know what it feels like to be a caged animal. Where will you be off to when travel restrictions are lifted?
One thing is for sure.
When restrictions are lifted, the first place I’m visiting is an eye doctor. All this added screen time, without a doubt is having an adverse affect on my eyeballs.
Wishing on a star for my next international travel adventure!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on this post are solely of my own and my own assumed predictions on travel for the future. These views and opinions do not represent any government regulations, airlines, airports, tourist companies, staying lodges (hotels, homestays, etc.), visa regulations, and travel insurance companies.