Let’s face it. The past few months have been rough on all of us. First there was the quarantine. Then there was the terrible murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, some of which turned to riots.
They say bad things come in threes, so what terrible thing is going to happen next?
Fortunately, that saying about threes is complete rubbish. We all want life to get back to some semblance of normal. But I think nowhere is this more apparent than in those of us who love to travel.
Or maybe that’s just my bias.
But it has me asking, when will we be ready to start traveling again?
Step 1 – Short Day Trips
Honestly, I think the first step is already here. Many of us are venturing out of our homes again, dining in restaurants – even if it’s at 25-75% capacity. We’re shopping again. That’s the first step, just getting back out there.
And for many of us, day trips feel perfectly fine now. They do for me. I’m not worried about packing my family into our car, and driving a few hours away to spend time enjoying an activity we love. Sure, some activities are better suited than others right now; I’ll go to the beach or on a hike, but I wouldn’t go to a theme park, even with social distancing measures in place.
But even this is a significant change from late March, where “traveling” meant a walk to the mailbox, or standing in line hoping to buy toilet paper.
Step 2 – Overnight Road Trips
Although my family is not quite ready for a hotel just yet, I think this will be the next step for travelers.
A road trip is inherently safer in terms of exposure to germs, compared to airline travel. That’s because we’re likely traveling with family or close friends, not an airplane full of strangers. We can put down the windows for fresh air, rather than just recirculating germs for hours straight.
The risks are definitely less, but it’s the stops that still worry me. Rest area breaks and overnight hotel stays would be my biggest concerns. But restroom breaks can be mitigated by proper handwashing, and overnight stays could be done by camping or staying with friends and family along your route, if possible. There’s still some exposure to people outside your household, but it’s a lot less than even you would find if staying in a hotel.
What does this mean for my family? Probably drives to see the grandparents, assuming they are ready to have us visit. If not, then maybe we will rent an RV and go somewhere interesting.
Step 3 – Domestic Airline Travel
I think going from step 2 to step 3 is going to be a much bigger jump. I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have a tendency to catch a little cold almost every time I fly somewhere. I don’t care how many Airborne gummies I munch, or how much hand sanitizer I use, I’m just going to pick up some small illness.
Then again, I’ve never flown with a mask. Maybe that helps. I certainly don’t know – we as humanity can’t even agree if we should wear masks while running errands!
But domestic travel generally has three advantages over flying internationally: First, the duration of your flight is shorter, meaning less exposure to other people. Second, you don’t need to clear customs, which saves you another point where you may have to spend a longer amount of time in close proximity to others. And third, presumably, you’re traveling with fewer people who live further away and may be carrying strains of any illness that you haven’t already built an immunity to.
I think, unless there’s a big second wave, that we’ll see this pick back up before the end of 2020. If nothing else, a lot of people are just tired of staying at home. They’d rather take a chance – while taking precautions of course – in order to keep living their lives. We’re not in denial, but we’re tired of feeling trapped by this virus.
Step 4 – International / Overseas Travel
This is the trickiest one, of course. Many countries have closed their borders, making international travel impossible. But as they slowly reopen them, I still see many professional travel bloggers and writers saying they don’t intend to travel internationally for several months at least.
And to me, this means “in several months I’ll review my thoughts”, because none of us really knows how things will have changed before the end of the year. I doubt anyone things that they’ll travel in, say, November because come hell or high water, they’re by golly going to Indonesia.
Personally, I’m also concerned about spending money to travel and then finding that I can’t do certain things I want because of restrictions. For example, say I could get to some particular country, but the sights to see are closed or limited and I don’t get to go inside. Or I can’t enjoy local cuisine because restaurants are restricted. I’d rather wait awhile and make sure I can enjoy my next vacation 100%. Know what I mean?
What About You?
So where do you currently fall on this spectrum? Are you ready to start traveling in any capacity?
What do you think it will take to make you feel comfortable traveling again? Do you want the number of cases? Would you want to wait until there’s a vaccine? Let us know your thoughts by dropping a comment below.
And until then, stay safe and stay healthy!