Never has there been a time when the longing for travel has been more prevalent. It's on everyone's mind and wishlist for months...even years at this stage! Travel, of course, won’t be the same as it was, but maybe that won’t be a bad thing.
After COVID, its being predicted that we will all become more of a conscious traveller. What the heck is that you ask? Apparently this is the new term for someone who is far more discerning about the journeys they take, willing and able to be away from home for longer (thanks to remote working), more appreciative of their surroundings and local people, and less reckless in their spending. Bring it on I say!
After endless months of cabin fever, there will be a universal hunger for wide-open spaces. The wilderness is felt to be an antidote to our stifling modern urban life. The point-to-point holiday, whereby travellers fly to a single location and then return home, will be rivalled by trips that take in multiple locations, occur at a slower pace, and are as much about the journey as the ultimate destination.
A younger friend of mine told me recently that she did the maths and worked out that she had spent over €24,000 on trips to Costa del Sol and Ibiza over the past few years, “I have been six times and each time I had to pay for plane tickets, new clothes, hotels, booze, clubbing, everything. I feel sick when I think about it.” She added: “In the future, I am going to travel far less, and really think about where I want to go – not just go with all my friends to the same place every year and come home feeling like I need a rest" Having their freedom to travel taken away has driven a shift in people’s mentality to take on those more challenging trips, which they may have put off in recent years.
While all of us miss the excitement of travel, there is no doubt that there has been a realisation that travelling for social prestige and Instagram “likes” should not be what motivates us going forward. We have to choose trips that really mean something to us and are worth the effort and risk of making a journey to an overseas location. Its also a fact that the risk of catching the virus to be an ongoing issue for longer than we thought. So we have to adapt. I have always wanted to do more to be sustainable and that will now extend to travel. I found a great Irish website that will help you to do that by planting trees to offset your carbon footprint that results from traveling. See https://ecologi.com
The prolonged period at home during COVID-19 has increased people’s sense of adventure and a search for escapism. Global research shows that people have a strong desire to travel in 2021, with 70 per cent of people planning their break.
A key trend that has emerged is the importance of familiarity to a destination, and this has translated to a rise in short-haul travel. In 2021 nine out of 10 Europeans chose a continental destination for their summer holidays.
There will be a wider shift towards more meaningful travel, centred around giving back to the planet. Out with the weekend getaways and in with family-focused itineraries for longer periods of time. There’s one key reason as to why this is important. There are many communities and conservation projects around the world that are completely reliant on tourism. Their income has completely halted due to the pandemic and many are concerned it will get to the point of no return.
As people think more carefully about the way they travel, they will seek out hotels and travel companies that are doing everything they can to minimise their impact on the planet. We can also expect accreditation to gain prominence, as people look for reassurance from legitimate “eco-tourism” certifications. We can expect beachgoers to be swapping sun and pina coladas for shade and coconut water. Even if visitors aren’t specifically travelling for a detox or bootcamp experience, they will want to book trips that leave them feeling better than before when they return home. Wellness tourism will be increasingly popular.
Engaging with local communities in a safe and respectful way will also be an important aspect of trips in the future, with tourists keen to learn and form human connections. We will also want to leave a positive footprint – to give something back – whether that is paying direct or volunteering.
Finally, as the idea of the “holiday” starts to feel anachronistic, simply “being” abroad will be the mindful alternative. This will manifest in the rise of 'workations,' where visitors combine work with vacations, embedding themselves for longer periods of time in a certain place.