With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus at the beginning of the year, the world went off the rails. The travel industry was particularly hard-hit by the pandemic. The future of travel had become uncertain.
The main question from the beginning was when travel would be possible again, and it soon became clear that the virus would have an effect for much longer than initially expected.
With the first easing of the initial restrictions and the first indications from governments of a gradual reopening of the borders, everything now revolves around one crucial question:
How will the coronavirus change the future of travel?
We asked 12 of the most successful and authoritative travel bloggers and influencers this question. Here are their assessments:
A Luxury Travel Blog, voted one of the world’s best travel blogs by the Telegraph, has more than 1.1 million followers. Paul and his team focus on keeping travelers up to date on the world’s most lavish restaurants, hotels, and resorts.
“I expect domestic tourism to enjoy the greatest benefits, as well as villas / self-catering / vacation rentals where it is easier to isolate from others if desired or required.”
“In the short term, whilst people are still potentially at risk and there is no vaccine, I think travel will change significantly, particularly if we may face a second spike as predicted by some scientists. Some people will be too nervous to travel, some will not want the inconvenience of longer waits at airports whilst social distance restrictions are maintained, some may simply feel unable to afford to travel given the inevitable economic downturn.
At the same time, there is likely to be some pent-up demand for travel waiting to be fulfilled. I expect domestic tourism to enjoy the greatest benefits, as well as villas / self-catering / vacation rentals where it is easier to isolate from others if desired or required. In the longer term, assuming a vaccine is found, I anticipate a gradual return to our normal ways, hopefully enhanced by some reflection on previous bad habits and practices.”
Meg is an Australian journalist and traveler who shares her travel tips, beautiful photography, and inspiring stories on her award-winning travel blog, Mapping Megan.
“I predict that mass tourism will fade – for a few immediate years anyway.“
“I predict that mass tourism will fade – for a few immediate years anyway. This has been one of the biggest social and environmental issues of the 21st century – tourism numbers to places like Venice, Barcelona, and Bali have reached excessive peaks, which has seen a detrimental effect on both the environment and lives of locals.
We can only hope that destinations will use this time to work on developing solid and sustainable tourism strategies to avoid taking the same path in the future. As a traveler this presents a unique opportunity to visit previously over crowded destinations without the normal overwhelm.”
The French-Greek couple Stefan and Sebastien share their travel adventures in their blog, Nomadic Boys. It is one of the most successful LGBTQ travel websites in the world.
“We think coronavirus will see a huge spike in regional “staycation” travel over the next 6 months.“
“We think coronavirus will see a huge spike in regional “staycation” travel over the next 6 months. International travel is going to take a long time to recover: first the lockdowns need to ease, then a vaccination found to alleviate fears and then of course they will need to recover from the massive economic fallout this is and will continue to have. Gradually we expect to see regional travel to neighbouring countries to pick up a bit. For example, Israel, Greece and Cyprus have signed an agreement to promote travel between each other as they’ve had the same positive experience “flattening the curve”.
Over the long term, we expect international travel to eventually recover, but a stronger focus on hygiene – less contact with staff/cabin crew with passengers, more masks/glove wearing and a longer overall airport experience.”
Gary is an experienced traveler who has set foot on all seven continents in just one year. He has also photographed and documented trips to over 375 UNESCO World Heritage sites across the globe.
“There are lots of people tossing around ideas and opinions, but until things open up, we really don’t know how people are going to react.“
“Honestly, no one knows. There are lots of people tossing around ideas and opinions, but until things open up, we really don’t know how people are going to react. Not only is there the issue of people being afraid of the virus, but there is also the economic issues of people being able to travel with all the unemployment.
The best projections I’ve seen, based on what happened in 2008 and after 9/11, is that it will probably take 2 to 3 years for things to get back to normal, and that is assuming things ever do return back to normal.”
Eric, founder of the award-winning travel blog Travel Babbo offers the best tips on how to travel with children and encourages families to explore the world together.
“I think people will become more and more comfortable flying, at least until it’s proven that someone contracted the virus on a plane.“
“Obviously news about the coronavirus is changing every day, but what seems to be coming out is that it is far more likely to be spread from person to person than on surfaces. If that’s the case, the lasting impact on travel will be that opportunities to come into close contact with people, and especially with groups of people, will be reduced. Hotel stays will start to become more normal, but with plexiglass at the front desk and only one party in an elevator at a time. Pools and beaches will require distancing, and dining out will take place but with tables spread farther apart. Stores will require masks and not allow a lot of people at once.
Transportation will be affected as well of course. I think people will become more and more comfortable flying, at least until it’s proven that someone contracted the virus on a plane. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen of course! But cruise ships will be a tough sell, since so much of cruising is social, and large group tours aren’t going to be in demand for years. The choice between hiring a private guide somewhere and getting on a bus with 55 other people will be an easy one.”
American full-time backpacker Alex is currently exploring locales in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Her clear goal is to inspire readers to set out on adventures around the globe.
“I think coronavirus, at least for the near future, is going to kill mass tourism.“
“I think coronavirus, at least for the near future, is going to kill mass tourism. Admittedly, I’m pretty happy about it!
As budget airlines go bankrupt because they can’t maintain their high turnover strategies and countries ask travelers to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival (and return), short weekend trips and brief jaunts to the other side of the world are going to be financially and logistically impossible for most people. Because of this, I predict a return to local travel and slower, more meaningful travel. No one’s going to spend two weeks locked in a hotel room just to go sightseeing for a few days!
I’m a big advocate of slow travel where possible, so despite all of the suffering going on because of COVID, I’m looking forward to the near future of travel when it becomes possible again. The question is: will we be able to sustain it? I sure hope so.”
Linda is a full-time traveler and podcaster at Indie Travel Podcast, where she and her partner Craig Martin provide helpful travel tips for independent travelers.
“When borders reopen, international flight tickets are likely to be expensive“
“It’s easy to see the immediate effect COVID-19 has had on travel. With many borders closed, international travel is difficult or impossible, and travelling overseas for leisure is neither practical nor recommended, even where borders are open.
As a result, I believe there will be a huge resurgence in local travel. Governments such as Australia and New Zealand are already encouraging residents to plan trips around their own country, in order to keep the local tourism industry going. This will have long-term effects, as people see the benefits of local travel — they may well create habits that last long into the future.
When borders reopen, international flight tickets are likely to be expensive as the airline industry tries to recuperate the massive losses generated over the last few months. This means that people will have to consider their trips more carefully, and that it will be more difficult to jet off on spontaneous overseas journeys: this kind of trip will probably be closer to home.“
“I think the future of travel will drastically change even after the COVID-19 outbreak has died down.“
“I think the future of travel will drastically change even after the COVID-19 outbreak has died down. We think local travel will gain more popularity which is great as it is important to support local business owners right now. Hopefully, with this, people will also begin to travel more meaningfully, prioritizing businesses and establishments that are taking measures to be sustainable.
Overall, we hope that as travel begins again, people will be more mindful of their environmental impact and prioritize supporting small businesses over large conglomerates and chains.”
With 22 years of travel experience Caroline and Craig Makepeace are sharing their best travel tips on their yTravel Blog. They are on a mission to prove that travel does not have to stop after kids.
“We think people will head to smaller towns, and seek quieter and more isolated experiences in state and national parks.”
“People will be more focused on local travel and travel within their own countries. They’ll be avoiding plane travel for some time and so road trips will be popular. Vacation rentals, or hotels with kitchenettes will be popular. We think people will head to smaller towns, and seek quieter and more isolated experiences in state and national parks.
While people will still seek out international travel, we don’t see this being hugely popular again for at least 12 – 18 months. Festivals and large events won’t be a huge travel draw-card for that period of time either, and the cruising industry could be in for some troubling times. However, this is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to fall in love with their own countries and support local businesses.“
Full-time photographer and blogger Christy and her partner Scott of award-winning blog Ordinary Traveler focus on sharing helpful travel ideas and tips for the ordinary traveler who has limited vacation time.
“I think for the next year or two, we will see a surge of people traveling closer to home.“
“I think for the next year or two, we will see a surge of people traveling closer to home – taking road trips to nearby destinations, camping and staying out in nature. Honestly, camping spots were already very tough to book before the pandemic so I’m curious how things will evolve as far as that goes. Hopefully we will see more places open up for tent camping outside of the state and national parks. It will be interesting to see how things play out!”
“Right now what I’m seeing from my audience is for the most part, people are excited to be able to start traveling again post-pandemic.“
“Right now what I’m seeing from my audience is for the most part, people are excited to be able to start traveling again post-pandemic. Their main concerns, and one of mine, is the uncertainty of how difficult it would be given new safety measures. For example for many, the thought of wearing a face mask for entire flights is anxiety-inducing. The uncertainty of getting quarantined upon arrival, or even knowing if their nationality is allowed into certain countries is also a concern.
So in my opinion, coronavirus will change the shape of future travel by making a lot more people worried and on edge, but there will still be the seasoned travelers who will take the safety changes with a grain of salt and continue on as normal.
Here in Spain, we are still having to abide by time tables to be outside, and there are increased sanitary measures, but for the most part, it seems like people and businesses aren’t too bothered by it. Everyone just uses the provided hand sanitizer, and wears masks where social distancing isn’t possible, and that’s it. The government has announced to prepare for tourists starting July 1st, and is taking the top measures to reassure travelers that Spain is safe to visit, so I think as long as countries can do that, travel will resume back to normal…but with a lot more hand sanitizer and face masks!”
Lia and her partner Jeremy share travel adventures and top budget-friendly travel tips on their blog, Practical Wanderlust. With delightful self-effacing humor, they invite their readers to join them on their “Very Big Adventure.”
“I think there will be more emphasis on staying in one place rather than bouncing from city to city.“
“I think that we’ll look back on the last few years as an unprecedented boom in traveling, and I don’t think we will bounce back to the same level. There will likely be more restrictions on entering and exiting countries depending on local enforcement of COVID safety procedures. Airport security will become even more irritating, just as we’d all learned to get used to the post 9/11 security procedures. And prices across the board will rise as brick-and-mortar businesses are forced to implement better sick policies and invest in safety and cleanliness more than ever before while facing reduced consumer demand.
I think that in the future, travel will be closer to home. There will be more emphasis on staying in one place rather than bouncing from city to city. I think it will become more focused on slow travel, especially as more workers are granted work-from-home abilities. Outdoor travel will rise within the USA as we return to our national parks and open outdoor spaces, where we don’t have to worry about whether someone has sneezed in our hotel room or wiped down our room key.”
Quick summary of the experts’ opinions:
- Airline tickets and travel in general will most likely become more expensive.
- There will be a greater focus on hygiene.
- Slow travel, outdoor travel, and regional/national travel will increase.
- Mass tourism will fade in the next few years.
- Opportunities will arise for places that have suffered a decline in mass tourism to develop more sustainable strategies.
- Most share the view that if international travel ever does return to pre-pandemic levels in the future, it will take at least several years to do so.
- People will travel less: first, they‘re afraid of getting infected; second, some will not be able to afford it anymore; third, they fear long waiting times at airport security and having to wear a mask on the plane.
No one really knows what the future will bring or how and when the travel industry will get back on track. All we know is that our travel habits have been severely affected by the coronavirus and that the future of travel will most likely look different from what we’ve been used to in the past.
But at least with these insights from the experts we can better prepare ourselves for what lies ahead.
What is your opinion about the future of travel? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!