Traveling Has Changed – Here’s How
By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life
Travel isn’t what it used to be, and it’s also not what it will be down the road, either. The best way to put it is that we’re in a state of transition this year, between B.C. (before COVID) and A.D. (after the disease).
The pandemic has definitely left its mark, and it’s still a huge factor in travel, even as the number of vaccinations continues to increase and some places start to reopen, at least domestically.
For one thing, the CDC now says vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks outdoors, unless they’re at crowded events like sporting events or concerts. And more of those events are starting up again now, which means travelers have more potential destinations to choose from this summer.
So where do we stand as far as travel is concerned? Here are a few things we can say about the current state of vacation-hood.
Pent-up demand is about to be unleashed
In fact, the post-COVID push is already happening. People who’ve been cooped up because of COVID for the past year are increasingly clamoring to get out of the house as soon as it’s safe and they’ve been vaccinated for a couple of weeks. This will have several consequences, such as…
Things are gonna get more expensive
Let’s face it: In many areas, the law of supply and demand worked in our favor during the worst of the pandemic, driving prices for gasoline, flight tickets, and hotel rooms down as fewer people hit the road. But now, that trend is reversing itself:
- Airlines are raising prices as we head into the traditional summer season, not just because of heightened demand, but to recoup the big losses they suffered during the past year. One estimate projects that domestic airfare prices will rise 4% to 5% per month heading into summer.
- The price of lodging may rise, too, but at a slower rate as companies, some of which have switched permanently or partially to remote work, are more hesitant to restart traveling to conferences and embarking on other business trips.
- Gas prices are rising, and are expected to hit a three-year high.
Roads will be a whole lot busier
With more people getting out of the house, the roads will be a lot more crowded, and traffic more congested through major metro areas.
That means more people in a hurry will draw more attention from the highway patrol, especially on holiday weekends like Memorial Day and Independence Day, so you should be careful about how you drive and know what to do if you’re pulled over.
Before you leave, make sure your health and auto insurance is sufficient and paid up. Consider subscribing to roadside assistance or at least stowing a car repair kit on board.
Also, have your engine tuned up and check the tires before you leave. Tire failure causes about 11,000 vehicle crashes each year, and you don’t want to be among that number.
Staying off the beaten path is still a great option
Even if you’ve been vaccinated, you might want to stay away from the crowds just because you prefer the wide-open spaces. Let’s face it: It can be hard to see anything scenic if you’re stuck in between cement slabs and skyscrapers, or a sea of arms holding cell phones aloft.
One great thing about traveling is the ability to get away from all that and feast your eyes on beautiful forests, historic bridges, rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, and national monuments. And breathe fresh air instead of city soot and smog.
Camping out and RV travel provide a good alternative
Whether you’re still not comfortable staying in an enclosed space like a hotel for health reasons, or whether you’ve just got a hankering for the great outdoors, RV travel and camping are still great alternatives.
RVing is an even better option if you have kids. You’ll always have an answer to “are we there yet” when you’re traveling with your destination. Plus, camping is a lot more kid-friendly and hands-on than Broadway or the Smithsonian.
Overseas travel will still be complicated
The pandemic picture is even more varied overseas than it is domestically. Heightened requirements to navigate region by region means do-it-yourself international travel will be much harder, at least in the near term, and travel agents will be more in demand.
Different countries continue to follow different policies and observe varying restrictions regarding travel, documentation, entering, and leaving. Be aware of them before you head out.
COVID’s still in play
COVID will continue to be a factor in travel plans for a while yet. Surges continue to happen, and regional hotspots continue to shift. It’s important to know where you’re going and what you’ll face when you get there.
Continue to stay well-stocked with masks, hand sanitizer, soap, sanitizing wipes, and other personal protective equipment.
You’ve got plenty of options for a COVID-friendly vacation. You just need to plan ahead and follow CDC guidelines to stay safe.
Travel in 2021 may seem a little like stop-and-go traffic on a busy freeway. Progress may be halting at times, and reversals are always possible as the virus continues to be a threat. The smartest way forward is to remain flexible and informed as you venture out and enjoy your vacationing again — both this year and into the future.