As travel restrictions ease, where will we travel in 2020 and beyond?

Now that restrictions are slowly being lifted, we’re being asked how COVID-19 impacts our travel plans for the remainder of 2020 and beyond. Honestly, it is an evolving response. Our answers are based on what we know presently and that is constantly changing. No doubt this will cause a major upheaval in travel both domestically and abroad. It is still unknown when other countries will allow foreign travelers.

We acknowledge that travel is the last thing on the minds of many who are struggling in so many ways. But people are starting to ask us this question often, and we are curious what other travelers are thinking. Wandering Rose Travels reached out to several travel bloggers who traveled much of the year prior to COVID-19 to get their thoughts.

Please leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

Doughton Park Blue Ridge Parkway
B and Thorny ... aka Libby and Martin Rose, Wandering Rose Travels

B and Thorny Rose, Wandering Rose Travels

Describe your 2020 travel plans before COVID-19.

Our 2020 travel plans included trips abroad to Italy, Canada and New Zealand. Ironically, an ankle injury caused us to cancel the New Zealand trip, scheduled for early March. New Zealand went on lock-down mid-March and we would have been among the thousands of U.S. citizens trying to find our way home. We’ve had two family trips (to Texas and Las Vegas) and two bicycle trips scheduled March, April and May cancelled because of stay-at-home orders. We stopped planning for future 2020 trips when the virus started because there is so much unknown. The best thing for us to do is stay at home and follow the recommendations of health officials. Now that those restrictions are slowly being lifted, we’re starting to look at future travel again.

When it’s safe to travel again, what will post-COVID travel look like?

We’re in good health but Libby’s asthma is a red flag, so we will be prudent about travel in 2020. At this moment, we plan to stay in the States. Our decisions are based on what we know now. Our thoughts will continue to evolve as more is learned about how the disease is transmitted and safety protocols are put into place.

Healthcare resources will become a priority when exploring new destinations . We’ve never made access to good healthcare a criteria previously, but that will be near top of the list for future travel planning. In the near term, so will our confidence of easy travel back to the States should restrictions be imposed again.

Initially, we’re going to limit travel to day trips. We’re blessed to live in central North Carolina and have a multitude of outdoor destinations within a day’s drive. Our love for the outdoors makes social distancing natural, but we will be diligent in avoiding crowds, wearing masks when prudent and washing our hands frequently. I see us taking food and drinks in a cooler to further avoid close contact in our travels. We opt for that often anyway because food options are usually limited or non-existent at our outdoor destinations.

As health and safety standards are adopted for hotels and rental properties, we will pursue overnight travel again, but we need more data before that begins. We’ve long dreamed of doing extended road trips in the U.S.  For years we’ve yearned to rent an RV and relive the camping experiences from our younger days  (but in the comfort of an RV rather than a tent).  This seems like the year for that.

How do you think COVID-19 will impact leisure travel in the coming 12 months for the public?

We don’t possess a crystal ball, so that is difficult to answer with certainty. But these things are certain: the economic reality of pay cuts and job loss will alter leisure travel for many. We passionately believe that travel expands our world-view  and renews our spirit. Travel does not have to be expensive to be impactful. Some of our fondest travel memories are tent camping with our children, visits to public lands with minimal access fees and vacations visits with friends and family.

We hear from many who hope to return to leisure travel as soon as it is safe. A lot of what future travel looks like has to do with age and risk factors. We will travel again in 2020. It will be different than how we traveled prior to COVID-19. Our thoughts will continue to evolve as more is learned.

Jim Tobalski at a favorite NC winery
Jim and Jenifer Tobalski, Wandering Rose Travels

Jim Tobalski, Wandering Rose Travels

Describe your 2020 travel plans before COVID-19.

Prior to the pandemic, my wife and I had a robust and aggressive 2020 vacation plan. Luckily, we realized our winter hiking trip in Bryce Canyon National Park with stops in Zion and several Utah state parks. But then the painful cancellations began: March hiking in Arches and Canyonlands national parks and then our spring adventure inside Yellowstone and Grand Tetons national parks, when animals would have been introducing their young. We’ve also skipped several shorter trips to our nearby Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway and Carolina ocean shores. Since this all began, we’ve followed local and state guidelines out of respect for others and the future of travel. We retired to roam the country and beyond, not to shelter inside our homes. Yet, it’s petty to grouse when we know that others face more serious challenges than we do.

When it’s safe to travel again, what will your travel look like post-COVID-19?

We typically don’t travel much over the summer months when most destinations are crowded. We’ve been exploring national wildlife refuges close-by during day trips. And we’re planning our first two-day car trip later this week to hike along the coast, knowing we can limit our contact with people and properly sanitize along the way, just one stop for gas, several drive-through food stops, our own cooler of snacks and drinks, and keyless entry to our favorite chain of hotels, not expecting a breakfast just some grab and go grub. Pretty safe for a couple without pre-existing conditions.

We also have three autumn vacations that we planned almost six months ago, two that involve flying from our east coast out West and enjoying the Great Outdoors. We’re not sure how we’ll proceed but we’ll make decisions by the end of June. Our November trip involves meeting up with family on a driving vacation to southern Florida. We can minimize contact with others and still enjoy these plans that include several national parks, hiking and snorkeling, while using a rented home as our base.

The toughest decision for us moving forward? Cruises. We love them, big ships and the smaller eco-tourism vessels. And we want to patronize them again.

How do you think COVID-19 will impact vacation travel in the coming 12 months for the public?

We don’t attend large spectator events at this point in our lives. Almost all of our vacations involve the great outdoors, where we can effectively social distance. That leaves flying, car rentals, gas stations, accommodations and meals. I think we can limit our exposure in almost all of those areas but, like most people’s concerns, we’ll be thinking about our risk with airline travel. So far, we haven’t decided.

I do anticipate lots of changes, some minor and others more complex: the end of restaurant salad bars and table-top condiments, more hotels with keyless check-in and pre-packaged breakfast, an increase in RV and camper purchases, over-crowded national parks stepping up their efforts to secure funding to address their congestion, a challenge of confidence for bed & breakfasts to overcome, and stronger interest in trip insurance that’s easier to understand and simpler to administer. In addition, I think most wanderers will create a new family travel accessory list that includes supplies to clean and sanitize even when businesses promote their due diligence. We personally won’t assume things are sterile – we now accept this as our responsibility.

In all honesty, I’m not smart enough to predict all the impacts. But personally, we’ll monitor all the news while we look forward to traveling later this year and into the future. And we’ll talk with all of our future accommodations in advance and expect them to make us feel comfortable in how they’re addressing the new concerns of travelers.

Elizabeth Engle, Wandering Rose Travels

Describe your 2020 travel plans before COVID-19.

My family was booked for spring break at a resort on the Mayan Riviera to play in the water and visit Mayan historic sites.  I was also working on a family summer beach week in the Carolinas, and starting to explore a low key international getaway with my husband around the Caribbean.

When it’s safe to travel again, what will your travel look like post-COVID-19?

  • Refundable! I always require flexibility, but now it is paramount.
  • No international travel for my family and I to avoid possible quarantine away from home
  • Car travel to avoid public transportation and/or flying
  • Prioritize direct flights (or up to one connection) and lower traffic airports
  • Supporting local businesses with spending and reviews
  • Consisting of outdoor activities, intimate experiences and less crowded destinations
  • More inclined to use a travel agent


How do you think COVID-19 will impact vacation travel in the coming 12 months for the public?

I believe that frequent leisure travelers will start going abroad soon after international business travel resumes, but that most Americans will not want to leave the country, or even fly domestically, into 2021. The cruise industry will be among the last to recover, along with travel involving large crowds and/or events. Travelers with a high risk tolerance can enjoy deep discounts, but all travel will not be drastically cheaper. Private tours and transportation will be popular. Places that struggled gravely with the virus, such as China, east Asia, Italy, Spain and New York, will be taboo for most, but offer extreme value for travelers who can take more risks. Destinations with quality medical care will appeal to health-conscious vacationers. Companies that do right by their employees and customers will shine, while the negligent will suffer worse-than-usual press. The US will see less summer travel, but hopefully it’s enough to keep many businesses afloat! Positive side effects include improved public cleanliness, a break for over-touristed destinations to physically recover and a boost for smaller, more sustainable travel.

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