What will Travel Look Like Post-Pandemic?
It’s no secret that we are in unprecedented times. The dream vacation you planned for this summer has likely been postponed or canceled. You try to get information from the news media, but how much can you believe? When will it be safe to go back to Mexico? Or Europe? Will my cruise still set sail in August? Will the airline I'm scheduled to fly on in October still be in business? My crystal ball is still in the shop, but I’m lucky to have access to some of the greatest minds in travel, and here’s what they are saying.
Normally, summer is usually a peak time for travel, 2020 looks like it's going to be a very different year. The way we travel will be different for an unknown period of time. We need to find alternative ways to find cool things to do because group tours, amusement parks, cruises, and long-haul flights remain at high risk for a while. The world still awaits you, but it’s hard to think about travel when borders are closed, planes aren’t flying, and ships aren’t sailing.
According to the State Department, U.S. passport agencies are prioritizing passports for life-or-death emergencies. All other passport services are either on hold or will require up to several months to be processed, so if you don’t already have a valid passport, it may be wise to plan a domestic vacation this summer and for the foreseeable future.
The future of travel may still be uncertain, but Americans are starting to think about vacations again now that states and national parks are beginning to reopen. Some options include day and weekend trips from your hometown, re-discovering national parks, and other U.S. based resorts.
Cleanliness will be top of mind as travelers have a new hyper-awareness of germ spread and surface cleanliness. Hotels, airlines, cruise ships, and the like will be implementing new cleanliness standards. Passengers will assess the risk of flying, and in the USA, the number of flights has dropped, but the number of people on those flights has been extraordinarily low.
If you MUST fly, stop touching stuff! As soon as you board a flight, you should whip out the disinfecting wipes and wipe down every single surface with which you would come in contact.
Most people think the travel companies would be offering bargains to entice people to travel again. They are waiting for "the deal" before booking their vacations next year. What I am hearing and seeing is this just isn't and likely won't be the case for some time. The "new normal" is greatly affecting supply, with some airlines drastically reducing the number of flights and eliminating middle seats (and thereby capacity on the flight) to comply with social distancing (don't you love that term?) so they have to charge a healthy fare to cover their costs.
In addition, cruise lines may have to reduce capacity for the same reason, and they have indicated the buffet you're used to will go away for the time being and a crew member will serve you instead. This would require additional crew and increase the time you wait in line significantly if they didn't reduce capacity. Remember those cruises that are being canceled? Well, the majority of the passengers have opted for the enhanced Future Cruise Credits, and they are rebooking into 2021, which increases demand, lowers supply, and drives up the prices of the remaining cabins. Don't expect the cruise lines to offer "Cheap Caribbean" like you're used to.
The last point (and I believe most important) I want to make is that the value of a travel advisor to navigate you through these uncertain times is immeasurable! We successfully got our clients home when the pandemic started closing borders overseas, spent countless hours on hold with airlines, cruise lines and tour operators (so our clients wouldn't have to) to secure future credits and refunds, and will help you sort out your options for your future travel plans. Our strong supplier relationships will enable you to be a priority (instead of making countless calls to online travel sites who never pick up the phone during these hard times), and still allow us to give you special perks and amenities you can't get on your own.
Travel is the only thing that enriches your life in three ways: The dreaming that happens when you plan, the experience of the trip, and the lifelong memories it creates. We don’t know what the future will hold, but one thing is sure: we WILL travel again. The current situation is just a pause. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming about where you will go next, so keep dreaming and call your travel advisor (ME!) to plan your next vacation, even if it isn’t until next year or beyond!