COVID-19 has changed the world’s jet-setting ways in just a few short months. While the world will never be quite the same again, we do know that we will travel again – just a little differently. As countries begin to ease their local lockdowns, some new travel trends are beginning to emerge. From ‘travel bubbles’ close to home, to hyper hygiene habits, here is what travel will look like after COVID-19.
1. We’ll explore our own countries more
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought travel and tourism to a crashing halt. In April, at least 91% of the world’s population, or 7.1 billion people, were living in countries with COVID-19 related travel restrictions, and the limits on international travel look set to remain in place for some time.
However, as countries begin to emerge from local lockdowns, one of the new travel trends will be domestic travel. We’re now more comfortable with exploring closer to home and as the tourism recovery begins locally, we’re going to see the formation of ‘travel bubbles‘.
Several regions are in talks to create special travel zones where people can move safely between borders without extended quarantines, including Australia and New Zealand and the UK and France. Greece, Israel and Cyprus are considering an eastern Mediterannean bubble, while Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have already opened their borders to each to create a ‘Baltic bubble’.
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As more travellers seek out less crowded places, local destinations that were previously lesser-visited will now benefit from an uptick in tourism. The increased support for local businesses will do wonders for reviving the local economy, plus travellers will get to reconnect with the world, starting with their local culture, history and nature. So if you want to travel the world after COVID-19 – the best place to begin is at home.
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2. We’ll see more family and group travel
So many families and friend groups have been kept apart recently to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. After spending weeks and months in lockdown, we’ve missed birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and more. To make up for lost time, we’re likely to see more family and multi-generational travel once it’s safe to travel again.
We’ll also see a different kind of ‘travel bubble’ in the form of travel groups. Friends and family members will feel safer travelling together and will prefer to share accommodation and transport space to minimise contact with other people and practice social distancing.
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3. Hyper hygiene and touchless travel will be the norm
With 82% of American travellers changing their travel plans for the next six months because of the coronavirus, one of the biggest factors in the revival of the tourism industry will be helping travellers feel safe and protected. As a result, one of the most important new travel trends to emerge after COVID-19 is ‘touchless travel’.
We’ve gotten used to social distancing and avoiding physical contact, and so too will the travel industry. From checking in at the airport to checking out of hotels, we’ll now see strict cleaning protocols and automation across the industry to prevent contact between people.
Technology will pave the way, with robot cleaners and more touchless options like electronic passports and boarding passes, contactless fingerprint and facial recognition. Health screenings will also be the new norm when travelling after COVID-19. Airlines like Emirates have already been conducting on-site COVID-19 testing for passengers. Etihad Airways will also trial self-service devices to screen for medical conditions.
Some airports in Europe are drawing up industry guidelines for health screening of passengers. Meanwhile, the use of face masks, hand sanitiser and thermal cameras at airports will continue to be widespread. We’ll also see an increase in ‘travel privacy’. There will be more personal space in hubs like airports and hotels to help people control their social distancing.
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4. We’ll want to reconnect with nature
After being cooped up for weeks in lockdown, more people will be feeling the itch to get into nature. Our future travels will likely focus more on escaping the crowded cities and getting into the great outdoors.
Nature has long been recognised for its soothing qualities. Studies show that direct contact with nature improves mental health and reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Our post-COVID-19 travel will see us turning to nature to find a sense of peace and healing.
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American philosopher Henry David Thoreau hailed the therapeutic effects of nature:
“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.”Henry David Thoreau
As we navigate the uncertainties of a new world in the wake of COVID-19, we could all do with spending some time in nature to help guide us in the right direction.
What new travel trends will you be following when you begin to travel after COVID-19? Let us know in the comments below…