The sudden, yet expected, spread of the respiratory virus known as COVID-19 has soaked up the life-force of hundreds of thousands of people, infected millions and drastically changed our everyday lives. Endless news about the spread of infection and loss of economic prosperity has flooded our feed. Including news about the airline and tourism industry which has experienced a huge loss in revenue. It will be a long road until travelling returns to its former glory.
We will see many changes within the travelling industry in the next few years not only due to the current COVID-19 virus, but also as the world adjusts to an increasing probability of worldwide pandemics that can be brought on by a combination of overpopulation, destruction of animal habitats and our close proximity to wild life.
It is uncertain when a vaccine will be available, if it will wipe out the virus, if the virus will return, or if the virus will mutate. Such uncertainty will change the way the tourism industry functions.
Before the realities of COVID-19 many were voicing their opinions on “overtourism,” a modern-day side effect from Instagram’s glossy images. This image-sharing app allows you to filter reality out of every shot, providing social media influencers the ability to share an idea of the perfect life: freedom, travel, youth, beauty, stunning backgrounds, colourful outfits and exotic destinations. Many tourists then visit these particular spots seen on Instagram simply for a photo to share on social media.
There will be many changes in our travelling future, including how social media is used to advertise travelling. This means that Tik Tok might replace Instagram. Those who used to browse through Instagram’s unrealistic photos for travel ideas will now swipe through Tik Tok videos to, not only find dance routines, but also browse through realistic footage of travelling during a pandemic.
I don’t believe that “overtourism” is a bygone era because it will return as the threat of COVID-19 declines. Travellers who long to leave their borders will still jump at the chance to fly to their next destination.
If travel restrictions are lifted, and you are interested in travelling while COVID-19 exists (as one of the lucky ones who still have a steady income), then here are some tips for travelling during the pandemic; including how you can stay safe within the changing tourism industry.
To be clear, this is not a promotion to begin travelling right away, rather safety tips and ideas for travelling when restrictions have loosened and non-essential travel is once again allowed. It is still your responsibility to make the right decisions when it comes to keeping yourself, your family and your community safe.
1) Travel Within your Border
Once travel restrictions are loosened in your country, one of the first steps is to start by travelling within your own border. I have lived in Canada for most of my life, yet have only experienced a fraction of this beautiful country in comparison to the rest of the world. Travelling within your region also offers an opportunity for those long and contemplative drives found through road trips. Car travel will keep you self-contained and isolated from other travellers.
Campervan travelling was on the rise before COVID among millennials who were opting for a nomadic life over the traditional goals of their parents, such as buying property and working 9 to 5 jobs. This form of travelling may now attract all kinds of travellers who are stuck in their country.
2) Go Camping Instead of Staying in a Hotel or Vacation Rental
Alongside road trips, opt for camping once parks have been reopened instead of staying in a hotel or a vacation rental. Camping makes it easier to socially distance yourself from crowds or from potentially-infected areas. Plus, you can soak-up all the nature available to you when camping in the great outdoors.
Camping will require some planning, including purchasing a tent, cooking materials, sleeping bag, etc. but it is a great alternative especially when you can wake up to a stunning view in the morning.
3) Fly in the Next Year or Two
If you have exhausted travel within your own country and borders open up to tourists, such as Iceland’s tourist allowance in June, then see if you can acquire great deals by purchasing flight tickets within the next year or two.
There will be a decrease in flight prices in the next couple of years due to low demand and high supply. However, in the years following when demand begins to increase again the supply will be relatively low (because of gaps in passenger seating in order to follow social distancing laws), and therefore prices will increase. Keep in mind though that if you fly in the next year or two there might be extra fees from the airline on miscellaneous items in order to increase revenue.
Note also that prices to visit landmarks and sought-after museums might increase when reopened due to increased staffing for temperature checks, regular cleaning of surfaces and managing lines. However, the price here also depends on changes in demand.
4) Travel with Sanitizing Materials
This is the most obvious tip—travel with portable sanitizing materials such as hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, masks and gloves. Although airlines are now limiting the number of customers in a plane to follow social distancing rules, and are diligent about sanitizing seats and armrests, it is still essential that you have some disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces before taking your seat.
Wear your own DIY or store-bought masks to keep germs away from surfaces. This will also ensure that others around you are protected from potential infection.
5) Allow More Time for Travelling
Due to social distancing and focus on continuous cleaning of surfaces, lines at the airport will take longer. Airports will be implementing contactless check-ins and closing down self check-in machines, so expect to spend more time in lines. Countries opening up for tourists, such as Iceland, will be conducting free COVID-19 tests before entry so expect more time for health checks.
Not only is extra time needed for going through airports, but also travelling in general. Certain countries may have mandatory 14-day quarantine laws after landing whether or not you have been tested which will prolong your travels, so plan accordingly. Such laws will definitely deter those who are strapped for time and money from travelling.
6) Venture Out to Less-Travelled Areas
Once non-essential travelling is allowed you will want to spend less time in crowded areas while COVID-19 stays a threat. This means that you can brainstorm travel destinations that are less likely to have visitors or fewer social media attention. Regions in Africa where tourism is lower than other destinations and rural areas are excellent ideas when choosing travel spots.
Italy is a significantly popular destination for travellers all over the world but cities like Rome would be a terrible idea for travel if you are practicing social distancing. However, planning a trip to Italy’s countryside where mountain ranges and distant sunsets can inspire you, is a great idea and more safe in its isolation.
At the moment, the environment has time to breathe and take a break from suffocating carbon dioxide emissions by humans. Yet, as the anxious capitalism mindset of corporations in America reminds us, much of the world is restless to get back into upstarting the economy.
This means that we might not have a lot of time to stop and reflect about not only how our actions impact the world, but how we spend our time and energy on the community around us.
So, if you do plan to travel again (which I hope to as well), then definitely take caution but also appreciate the simple journeys of connection with your family or friends where you live at the moment instead of flying off to another country as soon as you get the chance.
In our current climate if there was ever an opportunity to revolutionize the way we view the world, it is now.
*For updates on travel advisories during COVID, go here.
Copyright © Beyond Here 2020