Journey After the Coronavirus Pandemic Would possibly Be Completely different

In early March, I walked around the most magical place on earth – Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida – and asked guests why they felt comfortable in a theme park with thousands of strangers and kids with sticky fingers as a virus then believed to be through Touch to be passed on spread all over the world.

Grandparents, parents, and children talked about what brought them to the park: many had planned the trip long ago; Most had saved up and did not want to miss the opportunity to visit. A mother gave it to me straight away: “If I get sick and die, I might as well do it at Disney World.”

People keep asking me what it’s like to be a travel writer who can’t travel right now. My answer is that dreaming of traveling past and future – reliving old photos and virtual tours of distant places – keeps me going.

Regardless of whether the destination is near or far, Florida or Morocco, we travel for the same reasons: We want to connect with others, get to know new places and see things that we have not seen before. That won’t change after the pandemic, but some things will.

Tests, health passes, cleaning robots, plexiglass partitions – all of these will most likely be part of the experience. But travel will change in deeper ways. Many of us have pondered the irony with which we traveled to see and experience new things, but often ended up exactly where everyone else went and took the exact same selfies – in Venice, in Machu Picchu , through the steam of Icelandic spas.

Now when I speak to people about their fantasy travel plans, they rarely mention famous landmarks like this one; You will focus more on meaningful experiences and on seeing friends and loved ones.

When the tourism industry closed, things moved quickly. On March 11, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson said they had the coronavirus. On the same day, the NBA suspended its season after it was found that a Utah Jazz player tested positive.

As many travel agencies report, cancellations were received the next day. The Americans were suddenly afraid. Flights were suspended and cruise ships sailed aimlessly with no country willing to allow them to dock. Countries have put in place rapidly changing and chaotic quarantine and travel restrictions. Americans stranded overseas described feeling abandoned by their government.

This feeling of being left alone permeated the travel and tourism sector as it did everywhere. Airlines said passengers had to wear masks, but if people weren’t listening, flight attendants had to take care of themselves.

“The biggest problem is that we don’t have a coordinated response from the federal government,” said Sara Nelson, president of the flight attendants’ association, in the summer.

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Dec. Dec. 29, 2020 at 5:11 pm ET

The entire travel industry was destroyed by the pandemic. Almost 40 percent of all travel jobs, 3.5 million jobs, disappeared between March and November. Six months after the pandemic, the American Hotel and Lodging Association found that most hotels across the country were struggling to keep their doors open and unable to get all of their staff back on because of historically declining travel needs.

Beyond making a living, the industry has lost something less tangible, but nonetheless fundamental – the ability to shake hands, hug, and see a smile. Hospitality workers are possibly the friendliest people out there, and keeping them from sharing has been the source of their own kind of havoc.

During the summer, Americans were scared of getting on planes or sleeping in strangers’ hotel beds, and when they reached for controls they began to itch like adventure. Many went on road trips. First-time road drivers rented motorhomes, tried “Van Life” and hugged nature.

Others missed travel so much that they booked cruises and flights to nowhere. “Some people just want to drag their bags through the airport and check in,” Loveleen Arun, a Bangalore-based travel agency that arranges luxury travel primarily for Indian travelers, told me in September.

Now many are booking trips for the second half of 2021 in anticipation that things will get normal by then. Dozens have told me about the first trips they’ll take when a vaccine becomes widespread.

Dinishia Wolford, a casino staff member and writer who was on leave this year, says she and her cousin are going to Nintendo World in Japan as soon as she can to celebrate her 30th birthday. She will of course dress like Princess Peach. Lindsey Unger, a Seattle marketing specialist, told me she was going to Egypt to visit her best friend, who she hadn’t seen in two years.

I will be traveling to New Zealand or Zambia for the first time after the pandemic to visit my family – both trips I was hoping for this year. I can’t wait to slip into my window seat on the plane, dramatically wet my face, and use a jade roller. I’ll enjoy my stroopwafel, pour the gin from its small bottle into a cup of tonic and watch a movie on the small screen in front of me. I will definitely not connect to the WiFi.

As the industry prepares for its comeback, it is offering people the opportunity to travel differently. Expect some of the trends we saw this year to continue, such as road travel and domestic travel that can be achieved with direct flights to avoid layovers, said Misty Belles, executive director of global PR for Virtuoso, a luxury travel network . And expect #vanlife TikToks to keep coming.

“Think less flights and less exercise, explore one area versus many, and get to places by driving and cycling rather than more typical modes of transport,” said Ms. Belles.

Experts also expect companies to change the way they treat travelers. More flexible booking arrangements with fewer exchange and cancellation fees will be popular. People have become more used to insecurity. The pandemic taught us that anything can happen; We don’t want to be locked up.

Hospitality companies also have the opportunity to treat employees better. Travelers can help spend their money on businesses that focus on employee wellbeing and training, D. Taylor, international president of Unite Here, the hotel and restaurant workers union, said earlier this year.

And companies can keep the promises they made in a series of statements in support of diversity and racial equality this summer. Black U.S. vacationers spent $ 109.4 billion on travel in 2019, but many still say they’re not treated or valued as well as white travelers.

Perhaps the biggest lesson is that instead of waiting 20 years for this great journey, you need to go ASAP. Why wait for tomorrow when tomorrow could be the start of a pandemic?

“All the people who have watched others travel from the sidelines and kept saying they were going to travel next or next year or next year,” said Dianelle Rivers-Mitchell as soon as it was certain. the founder of Black Girls Travel Too, a group travel company for black women. People “now understand that nothing is guaranteed,” she continued. “If you want to see a place, just do it.”

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