How Coronavirus Might Change Travel

Promenade deck on board Cruise and Maritime Voyages Columbus on a sea day

Hey Owlets,

There’s no doubting that Coronavirus flipped the world upside down overnight and bulldozed everything we thought we knew about life. For most people it’s been a huge adjustment, but for anyone working in the travel industry it’s been the most horrific and stressful 6 months. In my personal experience I somehow found lockdown easier to navigate than this weird in between phase. Things feel almost normal and you start to relax, but then something reminds you that the world is still weird and you’re suddenly jolted back to being on edge again. With the world starting to return to open up again I wanted to chat to you about what I expect the future of travel to look like. This is a combination of my personal experiences and educated guesses from reading government advice and articles, so please take everything I say with a pinch of salt and form your own opinions.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages Columbus in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Let me just rip the plaster off now - travel as we knew it before the pandemic is unlikely to return for a very long time, and even with the world starting to allow tourism again, travel in general is going to take a while to come back. I love travel, it genuinely is my life, but reading that we were able to go to Spain or Croatia again, followed by Portugal, then Spain was off, then France and the Netherlands too… it’s exhausting, it’s unnerving and it’s impossible to follow. When the government announce a country being added to the no-quarantine list no one tells you what the destination country’s government want you to do or what your experience would be like - it’s literally just the UK government saying that the situation in that country isn’t as bad as it was and you don’t have to quarantine when you come home. I fell into that exact trap - when Portugal’s addition to the list was announced I was already planning what holiday I wanted to book, but as soon as I read the rules I was put off.

At the moment travel comes with so much risk - risk of getting sick, risk of getting stuck, risk of the government changing the regulations while you’re out there - it’s not conducive to a relaxing break. A lot of countries have similar regulations to us in terms of masks and social distancing, and I think we need to accept that that’s going to be around for the long term now. Honestly, as much as I would love to look back at this post in a few years time and laugh at how naive younger Becky was, I would buy a few extra masks because I think wearing them in enclosed spaces or, at the very least on public transport, is going to be hear to stay from now on. 

The wing of a Ryanair plane mid-flight

One thing that seems to have very quietly slipped under the radar is that a lot of countries require you have to take a COVID test and test negative within the 72 hours prior to arriving in their country or you will be forced to take one, possibly pay a fine and have to quarantine on arrival. Right now you’ll really struggle to find somewhere to take a test in the UK because you can only get a test through the NHS if you’re showing symptoms and the NHS tell you to get a private test if you need one to travel, but that private tests aren’t trustworthy, but I’m imagining that as it gets easier to take a test more countries are likely to require you to do this.

In terms of cruising, I’m a little disappointed so far to be honest. Given all of the negative press that the cruise industry received at the start of the pandemic, I expected cruise lines to have some of the strictest requirements and the pre-boarding health screening to get even stricter, but all they do now is take your temperature in addition to the usual medical questionnaire. As I write this the first cruise ship post-lockdown has just sailed so we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I would imagine that the usual sanitising stations will be back but will be more strict on making sure everyone washes their hands, buffets will permanently be served to you rather than helping yourself, and I would expect that at least for now and certainly for a while you will have to wear masks in public areas.

The rock of Gibraltar taken from the top deck of Cruise and Maritime Voyages Columbus

 I’ve heard a lot of cruise line saying they’ll echo whatever rules are enforced in the country they sailed from, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had to be stricter in order to make people feel safe. I also imagine that for a long time to come cruise ship capacity will be significantly reduced - in some ways I’m not particularly upset about this because a few ships I’ve been on did feel really overcrowded, but it does make me wonder how they’re going to manage the events that they know draw a huge crowd - simply saying they’ll schedule multiple events at once isn’t realistic, because there’s still always going to be a more popular event.

I was expecting air travel to change the most, simply because you’re rammed in like sardines on some economy carriers, and while I’ve heard of huge changes made in the airport with social distancing, shops closed and online check in being the new normal, it looks as if nothing has changed when you actually go to board the plane. I would’ve thought that companies would want to go out of their way to reassure potential customers that it’s safe to travel with them, but it’s like business as usual.

P&O Cruises MV Azura moored in Rotterdam, Netherlands

I was in a Zoom meeting with a tourist board a few weeks ago and the representative from the country’s most famous theme park told us about their “online queueing” system, where you registered for a ride within the app and got a notification when it was nearly your turn so you could walk back in time to board. I really wonder why it’s taken a global pandemic for this to happen because that’s an amazing idea and something that could’ve easily been implemented years ago.

I think at the moment it’s a little too hard to say what travel is going to look like in the future. Like the world wars changed technology and aviation forever, I think Coronavirus has the potential to do the same with how we interact in society and how we travel. Masks and social distancing are going to be here for a long time, and unless a viable Coronavirus vaccine is found I think taking a COVID test before you travel could also be a long-term requirement. The travel industry might be starting to recover, but I would push images of cruise ship functions and laid back holidays with friends to the back of your mind because I really don’t think that’s going to be an option for a while to come.

How do you think the world is going to change? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

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