One of the questions that seems to come upa lot lately is, “When can we travel again?” It’s an interesting question and one thatmany of us have also been wondering.
And while a lot remains unknown, there arelikely signs that should signal when travel will be restored.
Hey, how’s it going, everyone? It’s Ernest from Trip Astute.
In this video, we’re going to discuss whenand how travel will be back to normal.
First off, I want to express my solidaritywith those directly infected or affected by the novel coronavirus.
I can only imagine how scary and frustratingit must be, and I empathize with those who are dealing with both the health and economicimpacts of this pandemic.
While many of us are sheltering at home, we’venoticed that the prices for flights and hotels have gone down significantly.
But then again, with the number of infectionscontinuing to grow, very few of us are willing to risk traveling right now.
And even if you were to travel, you wouldlikely face quarantines.
There’s also the possibility of being anasymptomatic carrier, which means that you would be carrying and spreading the virusunknowingly.
Knowing when it’s safe to travel also affectsthose of you in the points and miles hobby.
I know many of you are wondering whether youstill want to keep certain credits cards or even shift your strategy toward a more cashbackoriented set-up.
Understanding when we will be able to travelgets to the heart of why many of us take the time and effort to collect credit card points.
Recently, I’ve read reports of people predictingthat travel may return as early as summer.
Though I think we will need to see major changesin several areas before travel is even a possibility.
This includes government and organizationalpolicies, structural and societal restrictions, economic activity, and medical advancements.
Here in the US, we would need to see the StateDepartment and Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, change their guidelines and policies.
For example, as of this video, the US StateDepartment is still issuing a level 4 travel advisory advising against all internationaltravel.
The CDC, which usually doesn’t weigh inon travel advisories, also warns against any unnecessary or non-essential travel at themoment.
Before travel is even considered, these organizationswould need to change their policies.
And since there isn’t a vaccine or proventreatment as of this video, it’s likely that the policies will not change anytimesoon.
It’s also important to remember that eventhough some countries have experienced their peaks with the virus, there are many placesthat have yet to see massive numbers of infections.
So even if the State Department were to givethe green light to travel, it’s still very possible that other countries would restrictincoming travelers to protect their own populations.
The second group of changes that would needto occur is structural and societal.
This includes the reopening of schools andbusinesses.
These things would have to occur, not justto make the logistics of travel more feasible, but also to give us a sense of safety andsecurity.
You can’t even buy travel insurance rightnow since most providers are unable to take on the risks.
Again, until these societal and structuralshifts are in place, I can’t see us traveling, even if the organizational policies are relaxed.
Thirdly, we would need to see recovery inour economic situation.
With unemployment at a record high, it’sgoing to take a while for people to feel comfortable spending their disposable income on travelexpenses.
Even those who remain employed may feel uncomfortableor uneasy about spending significant money when the economic outlook is so bleak.
This was the case during the Great Recessionof 2008, and I imagine the impact will be even more severe this time around.
From a medical standpoint, there are so manyfactors that could affect the course of this pandemic.
As I mentioned earlier, an effective and widelyavailable treatment or vaccine would definitely reduce the risks and boost the confidenceof travelers.
But with the testing that needs to occur fromour scientific community, it could be another twelve months before these are available.
There is also a lot of research being doneon antibodies and how we may be able to boost the immunity of those infected by using proteinsfrom the blood of people have recovered from the virus.
This is an unchartered territory that willrequire a lot of additional research and testing to better understand the feasibility of itsuse in treatment.
We also don’t know if COVID-19 will be seasonal.
It’s possible that the virus may declinein the near future then reappear again in the fall and winter season.
This would once again disrupt our lives andshake our confidence to travel.
Of course, this all remains to be seen.
But it’s likely that COVID-19 will be aroundfor a while, and may linger and reappear around the world.
This will likely impact our willingness totravel and explore.
So when do I think that travel will be restored? I don’t think that travel will shift backto normal until all of these factors are addressed, especially the availability of an effectivetreatment or vaccine.
And even when treatments are available, Ihave a feeling that we’ll likely slowly return to travel.
That means more short-distance road tripsand potentially visits to places where there aren’t large crowds.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we seea surge in national park visits and a decline in theme parks and urban travel.
I remember after 9/11, there was a huge surgein the number of RVs that were purchased.
While I don’t know if that same trend willoccur, I think it’s going to take a while for us to be comfortable going through crowdedplaces like airports.
Going on a road trip will allow us to stillmaintain some level of physical distancing from others while we slowly build our confidenceand comfort with travel.
In terms of cruises, I think it will be along time before we see people return to it.
I think the nature and structure of cruiseswill be hard for people to accept, especially having so many people in such a dense andconfined space.
In fact, I think this industry will continueto struggle for a while given all the nightmare stories of travelers getting infected andbeing stuck on ships.
And in terms of how travel will be different, I think we’re going to see some significant changes.
I think sanitation is going to be a biggerpriority, which may not be a bad thing.
I can imagine that we’ll see more placeswhere it will be customary to disinfect your hands or wipe down surfaces.
Crowd control will also be enforced in moreplaces and there will likely be more awareness of physical distancing.
Even the airlines are starting to offer flightswith more distancing between passengers.
I think that might be a good trend, thoughI also wonder how places like theme parks are going to fare.
Americans may also adopt the use of face masksand temperature checks at certain locations, which will be a big cultural shift.
So putting that all aside, I know a lot ofpeople have asked me whether it’s safe to book a trip for later this year.
To be honest, I wouldn’t book anything thatisn’t refundable or at least has some flexibility.
Again, even if things seem to be containedin your home country, it’s very possible that your destination may be experiencinga different cycle and timeline with the virus.
That being said, it’s probably safer toplan for domestic travel toward the end of 2020 until the entire world is able to containthe virus.
I don’t want to paint a grim picture ofour future.
I have no doubt that we will adapt and evolve.
But I also don’t think we should ignorethe fact that this is a once-in-a-lifetime crisis.
We’ve had to all adjust our lives to flightthis pandemic, and many have been affected both medically and economically by it.
It will take some time for us to recover, but I’m confident that we will one day be discussing how we overcame this global pandemicand came out stronger than before.
When do you think we’ll be traveling again? Have you all booked any trips? What will it take for you to feel comfortablewith traveling? Please let me know in the comment sectionbelow.
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Until next time, travel safe and travel smart.