A few weeks ago I asked a question about the future of travel in a Facebook group I manage which was:
If you had to guess, when do you think we will be able to travel again (at least regionally/nationally) & life will be somewhat back to normal?
This Facebook group is The Aspiring Travel Writer and has about 8,000 travel writers, journalists, and bloggers as members. I was curious to ask a group of people who make travel a large part of their life (many make a full time living from travel writing) what their prediction was about when we’d begin to travel again.
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The Future Of Travel Predicted by Travel Writers
It’s no secret that the novel coronavirus has temporarily put an end to what we know as the travel industry. Hotels, tour companies, travel insurance, travel publications, theme parks, restaurants, travel writers, travel bloggers, travel photographers, airlines, trains, travel gear brands, travel clothing brands have all been hit hard. As an industry, I’m sure we’d all love a crystal ball to know when and how travel will begin to happen again.
Here is what over 180 travel writers, bloggers and journalists predict.
- 1.67% predict travel will begin in May.
- 7% believe we will be starting to travel in June.
- 30% Predict we will start traveling in July.
- 5.5% predict travel will begin in August.
- 3.33% believe we will be starting to travel in September.
- 33% Predict we won’t start traveling until October of 2020.
- 1.67% predict travel will begin in November.
- 2% believe we will be starting to travel in December
- 15% don’t think we will be traveling until 2021.
One of the most interesting results to me is that June and October have the most votes, but July, August, and September have very few. I think I need to do an additional poll to find out why these two months are the ones most suspect will be most likely to see travel begin again. My theory is that June is far enough in the future (from the April poll date) that should allow for the world to recover enough and rebound. I also suspect that those who voted for October believe, if it isn’t resolved in May or June, the problem is going to be too big to overcome and that a hot summer isn’t enough to put the virus at bay. What are your thoughts?
The Future Of Travel Predicted by Travel Writers (The Answers & Feedback)
There were a lot of comments and some offered some insight about their answer. Below are some of the most thought-provoking answers. If you’d like to see the full post or leave a comment of your own, please join the Aspiring Travel Writer.
1. I think we will be able to travel beginning in June. I also think that most people will not travel much more than regionally until they are confident in the health of a region and the economy. So realistically we are looking at fall and into 2021 before we will see the frequent recreational travel return. We also have to consider that it will take time for the tourist infrastructure in resort areas to ramp back up. So many of the people that are out of work may leave tourist areas or just not go there to look for seasonal employment.
2. I voted June 2020 (at least that our family wishes for), but I think it’s going to be very slowly with re-openings rolling out. There might not be normalcy in travel until September or later, when flu season shows up again. That’s another thing to, if there isn’t a vaccine around flu season for the virus, travel will drop off again. (Please don’t read this as I think COVID-19 is the flu. I don’t, I’m saying that when flu season comes around, no only will people be concerned about the flu, but also COVID-19. If there is a vaccine for it like there is for the flu, perhaps it would help lessen the illness.)
3. I want to say June but “somewhat back to normal” is the kicker … I expect that for people who are recovered that June will be just fine. However, people at highest risk probably shouldn’t travel till farther out.
4. I live in Australia I’m going to say July for regional travel and maybe nationally. We are looking at lockdown & zero movements for around 3 months. International travel I don’t think will happen until sometime in 2021. I think what people vote depends a lot on which country they live in.
5. The virus will be actively transmitted to people without antibodies well into 2021. Vaccine(s) will not be widely distributed until well into 2021. Don’t get your hopes up, plan for worst case. Remember…. 100,000 dead Americans is Optimistic.
6. Non-essential travel will be harder in future. Things are not going to be the same again.
7. I don’t think we will EVER get back to ‘normal’. Travel companies all over the world have been destroyed and many won’t be able to recover (along with so many more small businesses of all kinds). Travel is going to be expensive again. The airlines are not going to offer as many flights or for low costs. How can they survive when they’re flying with empty planes? They won’t, so they’ll have to cut flights and increase prices to make up. Also, cruising? How many people will be willing to go on a giant cruise ship anytime soon? I will, since I work on ships as a profession- AND I’m not worried about getting sick-, but most won’t return. I also see the huge increase in government control as scary as hell. Much more threatening than any disease could ever be. No-one in power has EVER given in up voluntarily and I’m sure it will not be different this time either. They’ve just stolen a HUGE amount of our freedom and we basically just let them. US Constitution is like toilet paper- no where to be found! I’m afraid when a vaccine comes, there will be absolutely NO freedom at all for those who refuse to take it. They’re already talking about trackable vaccines.
8. I think people will be traveling again for leisure by mid-summer, domestically here within the US and within other countries. But I fear that international travel to many world destinations may not be possible again until some time in 2021.
Has the Travel Industry Changed Forever?
This prompted a new post by a member in the group; Beth Colman (@beth.thetraindiaries in Instagram) who asked:
Would love to hear some thoughts on this. I’ve been scrolling through Twitter this morning (never a good idea 😆) and have seen some tweets from travel writers saying that the (travel) industry is changed forever and there is no normal, it won’t just pick itself up, impending doom etc etc.
Now, forgive me if I’m being dim, but why would that be the case? I understand that many travel businesses won’t make it through months and months of no trade. And that budgets for content etc will be depleted for a while for many companies. But, for me personally at least, I’m raring to travel again once I am able to. I know many people who have already booked trips for when they think this might all be over.
However, I’ve also seen in this group that many people are pivoting totally away from travel, so it seems maybe lots of others don’t agree? I’d love to hear some other points of view. If you have decided to totally pivot, why is that?
There were over 30 comments and some offered some great insight. Below are some of the most thought-provoking answers. If you’d like to see the full post or leave a comment of your own, please join the Aspiring Travel Writer.
1. There are many reasons it is going to change — maybe or maybe not forever. But, in the short-term many people aren’t going to have the money to travel when it’s time to safely travel again. I also think travel is going to roll out — regional travel, then national, then international. I think it can really change boomer travel forever — a group that spent A LOT on travel, but are at most risk.
The fear of a 2nd wave will also keep people away from international travel. I’ve heard countries in Europe are talking about closing borders for one year (Czech Republic) and others that are talking about this. Othe countries might place travel bans on other countries with the highest Corona numbers for a time period after this calms down.
Those are just a few of my thoughts. It’s not going to bounce back to the normal we had previous to this for a while.
2. I’m raring to travel again, but I’d guess a lot of folks may not have the money after—whether it’s being unemployed for a time, losing their job altogether, or retirement fund depletion. A lot of travel companies might not make it either. But I’m going on a bender the moment I can! I’m keeping most of my content as is for the moment and am pushing wanderlust. Plan now, travel later. ~~ from Jordan Todd Campbell | Find her on Facebook at GlobalDebauchery
3. Everyone will be desperate to travel after this and airlines will be offering discounts. Travel will be fine. ~~ from Andrew Fenton | Find him on Twitter @andrewfenton
4. From a travel advisor perspective (I’m also a blogger and freelance writer), many hotels and suppliers may not survive this, countries will likely keep restrictions in place to ensure their citizens are safe, and people won’t have the money to travel. While I have literally lost 99% of my income I think we won’t see international travel til 2021. ~~ From Sarah Elisabeth Johnson Alexa | Follow her on Instagram @paperinkpassports
5. Risk management and government regulations at borders are huge issues. What borders will be open? How will hotels change cleaning procedures? What if stranded abroad again if new wave? Crowds are issues in airports, on planes, at events, on cruises. massive costs to vendors if outbreak, tracing, etc. Yes, many will travel to get out of house but my mom is banned from travel until vaccine. Biz travel huge changes and meeting/events long recovery. How will temperature checks be done at airport, train station, etc? is there enough in place to track folks? Just a few things before looking at financial health of travel vendors.
6. There’s a potential to limit international travel into 2021 which would be very significant for the industry. As we head into a recession similar to the Great Depression people also won’t be able to afford it. I think it’s coming from people looking at the long term what if’s when we can’t know for sure. On top of that I think people are learning more about germs and proximity so tight planes may need to change – or at least get cleaner – going forward.
7. Once there’s a vaccine or widely available effective drugs, travel will eventually get back to normal. Before then, I doubt it. I booked a trip that wasn’t refunded (only a credit issued), so I certainly hope we can travel again in 2021!
8. Our financial situation has changed drastically already, not sure how it will further change as the lockdown/pandemic continues. For now, travel is a luxury we can’t afford. We are avid travelers in our 50s with adult & teenage children. Not boomers but not young & childfree either. Hopefully, we can recover soon enough to think about traveling again in 2021 and beyond.
9. I read somewhere that after 911, it took three years for the airline industry to bounce back. This is a lot bigger, so maybe it takes longer. Also, it seems unlikely that businesses will want to budget a lot of money to send people to face-to-face meetings when they’ve been getting by with the zoom meetings just fine.
So I think business travel will be permanently changed because companies will realize that they can save a lot of money. And then of course, like you said, people are going to be skittish to fly for a little bit.
Or they won’t be able to afford it for a while. And maybe more of the young kids will think about having an emergency savings account rather than spending all of their money on travel. A lot of people cleaned up their financial habits after the housing crash. It wouldn’t surprise me if this had the same effect.
10. Until there is a vaccine its unlikely travel will go back to what it was before. Many countries won’t let foreigners in, people won’t want to travel (especially those at risk), and business travel will be greatly reduced until its safe. Many airlines, hotels etc., will not be able to weather that storm and will go out of business. Once travel opens up again there will be much less choice which will drive up prices. It’s also very possible that increased environmental regulations will be put into place within this time frame which could make it difficult for new airlines to start-up in the future.
11. I don’t see a return to anything like we had been experiencing with travel sales and marketing spends before 2022. I doubt many countries will reopen their borders for international travel this year. Once they do the pool of travelers with the combination of money to spend who are comfortable with the uncertainty of the health situation will be much smaller. If travel is your bread and butter you will need a side gig or a big bank account to survive this. Americans will explore the USA, Aussies will do the same. Not sure what will happen in Europe and Asia where closing borders is harder. ~~ from Paula Morgan | Find her on Facebook Sydney Expert
12. Local travel will probably recover first – road trips, day trips, weekend getaways will be more affordable than flying holidays. Things like national parks, camping/self-catering will most likely also get a new appeal.
13. I think that no one knows anything. Some people say we won’t see travels until 2021 and some people say flights will return in September. You just never know and no one knows. The world will be fine, and people will want to travel again as soon as it’s possible and as soon as they can afford it.
I believe that in a few months traveling will slowly happen again. I also do believe that the world won’t be the same as before, it will be better. For some reason, I feel like people are holding on to negative thoughts these days. But again, the truth is no one knows anything and we only need to hope for the best and make sure the best will come.
14. Predictions are conjecture. I saw one think tank predicting travel industry will be essentially dead through 2023. Who really knows? I expect (dang it, I am conjecturing) that the travel blogsphere will be decimated. The game of passive income from affiliates and ads has imploded. Pivoting or moving along is essential. I also expect massive downsizing of DMOs (but of course hope it does not happen). Hotels will not have taxes to pay for a while and will defer April and May payments. Certainly, I will travel as soon as it makes sense.
15. Road trips and anything “local” will be very popular for quite sometime.
16. Things were SO good, then nothing. It will take a while to recover.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the travel industry is changed forever? What will our new normal be in three months? In six months? In one year? What do you think it will look like in January of 2022?
Travel Writing world just came out with an article and podcast sharing that travel writers across the globe are in a state of anxious uncertainty about how they will earn an income when the dust settles and that travel bloggers, who generate income through traffic, ad revenue, and affiliate marketing, are scrambling to protect themselves from the fallout.
The one shining light they shared was that bookstores are reporting a surge in online sales and offering us all an escape into our wonderful world as arm-chair travelers!
For more information from top travel writers, journalists and bloggers such as well-published journalists, renowned travel bloggers, and travel book authors like check out this article and podcast: Coronavirus And Predictions On The Future Of Travel Writing From Paul Theroux, Monisha Rajesh, Rolf Potts, & More.
7 Ways to Satisfy Your Wanderlust When Stuck at Home
- Check out the 10 Best Travel Books Ever Written (and then read one)
- Watch travel-inspired shows on Netflix such as Dark Tourist, Our Planet or Street Food.
- Check out travel websites and travel blogger websites! Here is a great resource to find travel blogs.
- Check out Google Earth’s Heritage on the Edge, an online experience of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- Listen to a travel podcast about travel writing such as Break into Travel Writing.
- Listen to travel focused podcasts.
- Print out a FREE travel calendar.
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Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.