All of us who love travel are wondering what the future of travel looks like. Since there are many variables around the COVID19 virus, nobody really knows the lasting repercussions or even when mainstream travel will resume. But just like travel after 9/11, the world has changed in ways that affect our everyday lives. So I want to explore some of the lessons we’ve learned since the outbreak of the pandemic and discuss how travel will likely change post COVID19.
Be Flexible and Book Travel Direct
Some of the main horror stories to come from travelers at the outset of COVID19 had to do with OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies) like Expedia. Booking through an OTA is like going through a middle man and this left many travelers frustrated or stranded when flights and other bookings were cancelled. There is a lot to learn from these horror stories. From now on, it is advisable to avoid third party bookings and book all of your accommodation directly with the airline or hotel in order to have the best relationship with those vendors when changes need to be made. If a travel agent is needed, use a professional that can go to bat for you. Due to the unknown possible resurgence of COVID19, all booking should be made with a degree of flexibility. Booking travel with OTA’s will change post COVID19 as well since booking directly ensures flexibility and these third party companies will try to change policies to continue to be competitive.
Airlines Are Changing Post COVID19
United, American, and Delta Airlines have announced new social distancing procedures and sanitation initiatives. This includes PPE for airline crew, more thorough cleaning occurring more often using EPA approved disinfectants and continuing the use HEPA filters on aircrafts. Social distancing will be practiced at airports as airlines will change their boarding procedures and even require an earlier boarding time. United Airlines has also announced they will be blocking out the middle seat for the time being. These recent announcements by the airlines are a small glimpse into how travel will change post COVID19.
Don’t Forget to Pack your PPE
While some airlines may be offering PPE and wipes, like they currently offer amenity kits for long haul flights, you can expect that they may only do this while supplies last or until profit margins get in the way. Don’t forget to pack your own PPE, hand sanitizer gel, disinfectant wipes and woolite for washing your reusable PPE. Not only will you need these to stay healthy on your flight but also when arriving at your destination. For more on packing, check out the packing section of my website.
Planning Travel has Changed Post COVID19
My friends at Frommer’s wrote an excellent article on immunity passports.Certifications (like for Yellow Fever) or immunity passports are still speculation at this point since there is no vaccine for COVID19. For those planning international travel post COVID19, websites from the State Dept, WHO, CDC remain the best source of info. I would keep a close eye on those sites to monitor and changes or requirements for the country you plan on visiting.
Travel trends post COVID19
It is hard to predict any outcome while the crisis is unfolding. But there’s certain to be pent-up demand to visit family and friends once travel bans are lifted. That means domestic travel will be on the rise. Travelers will be heading to open spaces to enjoy the outdoors. Staycations will come back in full force to avoid large crowds and travel hassles.
Even though hotels are trying to reassure travelers with their new cleaning procedures, it is possible travelers may shy away from conventional hotels. Several smaller hotels have joined the buy now and save later program which allows travelers to buy bonds or gift certificates that increase in value. Due to the uncertain times, some cautious travelers are hesitant to make advance purchases like this since it is unclear if smaller hotels will be able to stay in business.
Private Tailor Made Vacations Will Thrive
The trend that I think will be on the rise for small groups, families or friends, who want to travel independently while practicing social distancing is booking secluded trips with a “bubble,” or group of family members or friends that stay secluded together. Privacy and lack of crowds while being together will be key for some travelers. That may mean hiring a private villa or Airbnb rather than going to a resort with a shared pool and hundreds of other guests. Travelers and groups who are anxious of big crowds, may opt to research fares for group charter flights and private jet options while skipping the airport and airlines all together.
About the Author
Angel Castellanos is a freelance travel journalist, TV Host and media personality. His intrepid adventures, love of people, and savvy travel advice have made Angel one of the premiere travel experts. Follow his journey at AngelsTravelLounge.com