Travel in a Post COVID-19 World
By Craig Smith, President of Source Events
In 2020 we had time to reflect on what we missed. Travel gives us more than new experiences and Instagram pics. Travel builds empathy, sparks connections and creates new friendships. We learn about remote cultures and different ways of life. As we explore faraway lands, we learn more about ourselves.
This year we’ll see travelers looking to recoup these benefits as quickly as possible, making up for lost time. Traveler’s wanderlust will be stronger than ever. It will be a year of renewal and reconnection.
Anticipating and Planning Travel Makes You Happier
Even though you may not be traveling now, it doesn’t mean that trip planning is canceled too. There’s good news for globe-trotters: According to researchers, planning and anticipating a trip can be almost as enjoyable as going on the trip itself. A 2014 Cornell University study showed that the anticipation of an experience such as a trip can increase a person’s happiness substantially- much more so than anticipating the purchase of material goods.
If traveling was previously considered a luxury, it’s now going to become a necessity post-pandemic to spark a positive outlook on life, whether that’s a day trip to a museum or a journey abroad. During recent COVID-19 restrictions, 65% of travelers reported being excited about traveling in the future, while 61% suggested they are more appreciative of travel and won’t take it for granted when they can do so again.
In between napping, working from home, and watching Netflix, many of us spend our free time scrolling through old vacation pics and ‘liking’ any image of a beach on Instagram. Almost all of us – 95% – have been spending much of our free time looking for travel inspiration, with over a third – 38% – looking for a potential destination as often as once a week!
Travel Trends for 2021 and Beyond
Travel Advisors: Don’t Leave Home Without One
The pandemic only served to highlight the critical role of travel advisors – anyone who didn’t have an advisor in 2020 probably regretted it. As a result, in 2021 we will see travel agents having the required knowledge. Want some great travel inspiration? Check. Looking for the best deals? They have you covered. Need an update on the latest health and safety standards. Done. Looking for the latest news on trip insurance? You got it. If you’ve had to change a trip or manage a big travel disruption on your own, you probably understand why it’s helpful to have a travel advisor in your corner.
Going Big: Bucket List Adventures That Make Travel Dreams Come True
Go big or stay home. That’s the theme we’re seeing. Amadeus surveys found that 55% of travelers said they would travel for 14 days or more, and 60% expected to take only a few trips a year – which suggest that if people travel, they may want to go all out. To make up for lost time, people are gravitating to once-in-a-lifetime adventures. After being restless at home with time to fantasize about their next adventure, travelers want to make up for lost time, looking for unique experiences.
Understanding the Impact of Travel: Smaller Footprints and Bigger Hearts
Pre-COVID, there was a growing understanding of the impact, good and bad, that travel has on the world around us. The enforced pause has given travelers and the wider travel industry time to think deeply about how we move around the planet. Travelers also want to make a difference while exploring the world. A recent survey found that 68% of travelers want the money they spend on travel to go back into the communities they visit.
What is a Vaccine Pass or Passport?
While negative COVID-19 tests are required before traveling to most international destinations as well as before returning to the U.S., as vaccines become more widely available, it’s expected that many destinations will require a vaccination pass or passport documenting that you have been vaccinated. The versions being worked on now by airlines, travel industry groups, and technology companies will be something that you can pull up on your mobile phone as an app or part of your digital wallet.
Travel Trends and Destinations
As a travel advisor and tour operator, Source Events recently is getting more requests for remote destinations far away from crowds, such as Tahiti, Hawaii, and the Greek Islands. One trend we’re seeing is that travelers want more luxury, and if they cruise they are looking for more intimate luxury vessels. Our Source Events Dreams of Tahiti Cruise this September 2021 has been popular with luxury LGBTQ+ travelers looking for an intimate, fun getaway. We are also getting many requests for our small group trips to exotic bucket-list destinations, like our Wonders of Egypt this December 2021. We are getting requests for private trips for birthday celebrations that were put on hold as well as special anniversaries and family reunions. Many small groups are requesting luxury private villas for beach vacations in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Costa Rica.
Travel is going to look different post-COVID. Cities that were once crowded will suddenly be enjoyable again, though many travelers will opt for more isolated escapes. But, no matter what, we will be back in the skies later this year. So, the question becomes, “What’s your dreamscape for 2021 and beyond?”