Okay, now what? How to Travel After Covid and What Will Be Different

Wellness

September 22, 2021

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Travel will be different after 2020. People are calling it the new normal. That’s a misnomer. It’s the next normal; it’s an evolution of the way we travel as well a re-evaluation of why we travel.

One thing is for sure, for the foreseeable future, the pandemic will continue to complicate travel.  First off,  we get mixed signals from the government. On April 2nd, the CDC announced that vaccinated Americans could travel. Then on April 22nd, the US State Department expanded the list of countries on their Do Not Travel List and added 155 new ones, including Canada, Mexico, Germany, and Great Britain. That’s an increase from 33. Then on April 25th, the European Union announced they’ll allow US tourists to visit this summer. It’s been a whirlwind of news.

Also, each country has its own rules about who can enter. We have to determine which tests are required, what flights are allowed, what vaccines are needed, and frankly, even if you’re allowed to go there. Most countries are not allowing visitors who have traveled through India or Brazil at the moment. And there are restrictions on the ground once you’re there. Greece has a curfew of 5 pm; Morocco 9 pm. 

And then there’s getting back.

It’s an emotional roller coaster and a tangle of regulations, so now is not the time to travel without advice

Here are the key ways travel will be different :: 

1 || More conscious 

The entire travel industry as well as tourists, now grasp how travel affects us, our earth, and our economies. Early on, we heard stories of pollution clearing and wildlife returning. So concern about sustainability accelerated to the forefront. There’s even a newer term that’s entered the lexicon – regenerative travel, wherein we travel to undo some of the past ill effects of travel on ecosystems. 

We also have seen how the absence of tourism has devastated the economies of nations that relied on it. And as travelers and as travel advisors, we look to work with hotels, restaurants, and tour operators who treat their employees well, ensure workplace safety and offer health care benefits. We make choices with our dollars, and now we will choose with more awareness and discernment.

2 || More Still

Travel will be slower and longer. Travelers will not move around at such a harried pace. Like a chef’s mis en place, tourists will set themselves up in a place and stay.

And the destinations that offer an authentic sense of place will be increasingly popular. We’ll see less of Bali in Mexico or Italy in Scotland. Hotels will be less corporate and celebrate the countries in which they are located. Availability of long-term stays and rentals are being embraced by hotels and suppliers. You can go and work in Hawaii for a month. Or head to the Caribbean for a long-term stay. 

3 || More Silence

Travel will not only be slower but quieter. And more private. There’ll be private villas, private entrances, private dinners, private access. Large tour groups will go by the wayside in favor of more intimate pods, where you are assured that everyone is vaccinated and will follow the rules.

Along with this will be more space. You’ll find airports more spacious and check-in lines further apart. Diners will sit at tables with more distance between them, and so you’ll be able to converse quietly without having to raise your voice to be heard above the crowd.

And we’ll be outdoors more where the sound doesn’t bounce off of walls and hard surfaces.

4 || More Intimate

Instead of mega-cruise lines, several new entries into the industry feature boats that limit guests to 150 or less. We move from city to city in luxury minivans instead of caravans of buses for 60. Tour operators are reducing the size of their average groups, and safaris are also more intimate. Even hotels are not booking to capacity to afford more ease in social distancing.

5 || More Complex

As already noted, the constantly changing advice and varying regulations heighten the already complex process of planning a trip. As a travel professional, I have access to a database that enables me to check on all the entry and exit regulations for any country, as well as re-entry back to the United States. And I can also provide up-to-date information on what it’s like on the ground – is there a curfew, is public transport working, what documentation do you need and in what format.

6 || More Investment

The stakes are higher, too – not only in monetary investment but also in emotional investment. Our first trips and next trips will matter to us very much. Our need for our travel to all go smoothly is amplified because everyday life has seemed so hard for so long.

7 || More Planning

We also have to anticipate better what happens when something goes wrong. If you get a positive result on your PCR covid test, and you can’t return to the US, then what? Can you stay at your hotel? Will you have to pay for your rooms? And your meals? If you stay in a private villa, how do you secure a PCR test there? What does that cost? 

You’ll have to book your experiences well in advance too. Entry to museums, historical sites, and even outdoor parks usually requires appointments for access. So early planning is key to crafting the optimal trip.

8 || More Patience

Travel always requires patience, but that too will be multiplied. The experiences that were easy and simple to plan are not quite as easy and straightforward now. They may still be possible but will take patience. Also, as demand increases, supply is decreasing to accommodate for social distancing. That means you may not be able to book that African safari for this fall. So perhaps that item on your travel bucket list will need to be postponed for another year. 

9 || More Security

Travel is how Covid spread across the globe. And the industry worked hard over the last year to ensure travelers’ wellbeing and the financial security of their travel investment. The insurance industry now offers policies to cover travel inconveniences like lost luggage but now also bedrest if you need to quarantine. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) created the world’s first-ever global safety and hygiene stamp to help travelers know which destinations worldwide have adopted health and hygiene global standardized protocols. And hotels, resorts, and cruise lines are continuing to offer flexibility on deposits, final payments, rescheduling, and even refunds because they recognize the reality of travel after Covid. 

10 || More Caution  

And there are the new vaccine passports. Hopefully, countries and the travel industry will standardize these passports globally. Airlines are at the forefront of this effort, with two apps leading the way. Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, and Jet Blue are using an app called Common Pass to certify Covid-19 test results. The International Air Transport Association is testing Health Pass for more than 20 airlines, and this app enables travelers to input whatever health credentials are necessary for international flights.

In Europe, the EU announced they would create an electronic vaccine certificate that will hopefully be ready by June 2021. But each country will have its own entry rules. Great Britain is also exploring a Covid-19 certificate system. Israel has instituted the Green Pass and requires all visitors to submit to a blood test to prove vaccination. 


And here in the United States, in the absence of a federal mandate for vaccine passports or a national database certifying Americans, the private sector has stepped in to help various states. New York was the first and created Excelsior Pass with the help of IBM. Hawaii is working on a vaccine passport for intra-island travel and will use either Health Pass or Common Pass. Meanwhile, other states such as Texas, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Florida are outright prohibiting vaccine passports.

Bottom line – vaccine passports and certifications are complex and will remain so until things shake out with either Health Pass or Common Pass becoming standard.

As the world heals and slowly reopens, travelers need expertise. The travel industry is not the same as in 2019. And will never be the same. Most of those changes are for the better — more consciousness, more sustainability, more purpose, and, yes, more flexibility.

Premier Wellness Travel centers wellbeing in all we do. We’ve done that from our start. Now, everyone must.


Additional Resources :: 

What Are the Roadblocks to a ‘Vaccine Passport’? from the New York Times

The Future of Travel from the New York Times 

Regenerative Travel – Discover hotels & resorts dedicated to positive social and environmental impact



  

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