International travel is back, but not as we know it. Here’s Culture Trip’s breakdown of how travel will be different after Covid-19.
Lockdowns are lifting, and the world is slowly reopening. However, post-pandemic trends show that Covid-19 is likely to have a long-lasting effect on how and where we travel. Below, we take a look at the ways in which post-Covid travel is changing, from the development of vaccine passports to a greater demand for outdoor adventures.
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After more than a year of unpredictable restrictions on international travel, global mobility is returning to some kind of normality. One consequence of this is a surge in demand for travel – known as revenge travel. It’s said 45 percent of travellers are planning a trip in 2021, compared to 10 percent at the end of 2020, according to a recent report by consulting firm Simon-Kucher & Partners.
Staycations are booming as a result of Covid-19 restrictions across the globe. Many travellers are holidaying at home this summer, as a result of strict border controls and complicated international restrictions. In the UK, for example, inbound tourism is expected to reach 11.3m visits, a 28 percent increase from 2019. Many travellers are escaping the city for rural destinations, such as Cornwall and the Lake District.
The surge in staycations is linked to another emerging trend in post-pandemic travel – a preference for getting around by car, rather than by plane or other forms of public transport. Driving your own vehicle not only reduces exposure to Covid-19 but also eliminates the uncertainty currently surrounding air travel. It’s also part of a developing trend for road trips – stopping off at multiple destinations – as opposed to point-to-point travel to one destination.
It’s becoming increasingly necessary for you to prove that you’ve been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or have a negative PCR test in order to travel internationally. Vaccine passports may become a compulsory feature of international travel in the not-too-distant future, consisting of digitalised proof of Covid-19 vaccinations, which will be scanned at airports and checked against a national database. In France, vaccine passports are now also required to enter restaurants and entertainment venues.
Paper documentation for international and domestic travel is being edged out by contactless technology. Scannable QR codes are replacing print-out boarding passes, elevator sensors are making buttons redundant and PIN-free payments are favoured over keypads, coins and notes. To further increase hygiene standards, some airports including London Heathrow have installed Covid-19 robots, which move through the terminals disinfecting high-touch areas with UV light.
At least for the moment, it’s wise to factor in more airport time than you would normally have done before Covid-19. Even if you’ve been double-jabbed, you may have to take a last-minute PCR test before boarding the plane, which will create lengthy queues. Avoid missing your flight as a result of eleventh-hour alterations by giving yourself a generous time cushion. Load a decent playlist, take a good book, and be prepared for some serious hanging around.
The year before Covid-19 hit – 2019 – saw a record number of pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago, the collective name given to ancient pilgrimage routes that terminate in the northern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. Travel analysts predict that this trend will continue in the post-pandemic world, as more travellers eschew city or pleasure-driven breaks in favour of longer, more introspective excursions centred around nature, self-examination and spirituality.
Lockdowns might have changed our relationship with the great outdoors forever. Over 7m more Americans took a hike in 2020 than in 2019, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Almost the same year-on-year increase was seen in the country’s camping figures. A desire to be outdoors is already changing travel. City breaks are being replaced with trips to less densely populated destinations where travellers can bike, trek, swim or sail.
Ready to explore again? TRIPS by Culture Trip put health and safety first, and take the road less travelled – leading small groups of travellers to beautiful destinations exposure to others is kept to a minimum.