Leading writers/bloggers examine COVID-19’s impact on leisure travel

With restrictions slowly being lifted, people are asking how COVID-19 impacts our leisure travel plans at Wandering Rose Travels. We are 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 limit travel to the U.S. We’ve talked about doing an RV trip. This seems like the year for that.

For more perspective, Wandering Rose Travels contacted these leading global writers/bloggers for their vision on leisure travel in 2020 and beyond. Their comments follow.

Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt

Matthew Kepnes runs the award-winning budget travel site, nomadicmatt.com. He’s the author of the New York Times best-seller How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and the travel memoir Ten Years a Nomad. His writings and advice are featured in The New York Times, CNN, The Guardian, Lifehacker, Budget Travel, BBC, Time and others. He is founder of Superstar Blogging travel media school and FLYTE, a charity that sends students from underserved communities on transformative trips abroad. When not traveling the world, he lives in Austin, Texas.

Describe your 2020 travel plans before COVID-19.

I didn’t have any solid travel plans for the summer, to be honest. I had just wrapped up a trip to Asia and was in Europe when things started to go south. The conferences I was in Europe to attend were canceled, so I went home early to play it safe.

The biggest change for my travels is the fact that our conference, TravelCon, had to be postponed. It’s a massive event so having to reschedule it (along with the 60+ flights we had booked for our speakers) has been a chore. But we’re excited and optimistic about our new dates in September!

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

I think the initial focus is going to be domestic travel since it doesn’t involve crossing any borders. Road trips, camping, and RVing will likely be the first round of travel as we wait for a vaccine/for countries to flatten their curve. Personally, I’m planning a road trip when things settle down and I suspect many others will be doing the same. Nobody is going to be excited about a long-haul flight shoulder to shoulder with other people. It’s going to take some time before we get back to that, I think.

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

On the one hand, a lot of people just aren’t going to have the money to travel. With rampant unemployment in the US and abroad, there are countless people who simply won’t be able to afford the price of a vacation — even if there are lots of deals (which I suspect there will be).

However, those that do have money will be desperate to get out of lockdown and travel. So, I think we will see people start to travel again as soon as it’s safe. It will just be a smaller number of people than we have been seeing in recent years.

Donna Hull, My Itchy Travel Feet

Donna L. Hull publishes the award-winning blog, My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel. Since 2008, she’s inspired boomers one trip at a time with an emphasis on active travel, small ship luxury cruises, road trips and national park adventures. Montana is her home when not traveling. We’re intrigued at the moment by her article on a self-driving tour of Monument Valley.

Describe your 2020 travel plans before COVID-19.

I should be cruising the South Pacific right about now. My husband and I were booked on a 52-day cruise that traveled from Hong Kong to San Francisco on Seabourn Sojourn starting April 3. Although we’ve often traveled this part of the world, I was looking forward to checking two items off my bucket list: visiting the komodo dragons and snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.

Experiencing this fantastic itinerary was going to be an early birthday celebration for me to commemorate entering a new decade. Instead, I’m waiting for 2022 Seabourn cruise itineraries to publish so that we can hopefully apply the cruise credit to a new boomer travel adventure.

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

As Montana residents, my husband and I are already allowed to travel within the state, although out-of-state visitors are required to quarantine for 14 days ­– no grocery shopping, dining out or other activities (info current as of time of publication). Once we feel that enough restaurants and lodging have opened up, we’ll travel on one to three-night getaways to some of our favorite Montana destinations.

For the rest of 2019, U.S. road trips will be our travel focus. And like many other folks we know, hoping that some of the more busy places like Yellowstone and Glacier will be less crowded than usual.

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

I think it’s too soon to know what travel will be like in the coming 12 months. In particular, I’m avoiding reading articles with dire headlines and predictions. The fact is, nobody knows how this is going to turn out, especially when it comes to air travel or international trips. But I do know that the more draconian the safety requirements, the less people will want to travel.

Practically speaking, it’s going to take time for travelers to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. The money for big trips, expensive cruises or pricey bucket list experiences is not going to be there for a while. Also, I’m not going to gamble my money on expensive trips until I’m sure that the travel provider has the ability to offer an experience worthy of the money spent.

Instead, I think vacationers will travel from their home base on budget-friendly local and regional trips (no matter their location in the world). As people feel safer with traveling post-COVID-19, they’ll venture farther afield.

Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith, To Travel Too

Australians Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith launched the website To Travel Too in 2013 when they left their jobs to pursue international fulltime travel. “We wanted to show others that it is not too late to ‘ditch’ the corporate world and to enjoy the later years of your life doing exactly what you want,” they told Wandering Rose. Believing that domestic travel will become popular, they recently launched a new website, Staycation Australia.

Describe your 2020 travel plans before COVID-19.

We were very excited about our plans for 2020, not only was it a start of a new decade but we also were venturing into our eight year of continuous travel. Yes, that thing folks could do before Covid-19!! Travel!

Anyways we had spent considerable time planning 2020 and it was to include a “superior bucket list “for one of us. What is a “superior bucket list? For us it’s like Antarctica, a destination that if you parted this world “yourself” would regret not visited.

So, 2020 it was Egypt. The travel plan was to depart Sydney May 2020 head to Thailand for a bit of Tourism Dental work, then head to Egypt, then to Jordan, Israel and then to UK.

From the UK we intended to mimic the old “Orient Express “train routes and travel the Schengen Zone in Europe, on a 90-day visa.   Slow train travel using domestic trains or Euro Rail keeping an eye on the budget and upselling the experience by staying in the accommodation used by the original Orient Express.

We would conclude in Asia and enjoy our once home of Singapore returning to Sydney, Australia for the summer!! Phew that would have been fun.

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

Travel will look very different. There will be more domestic travel until there is global confidence in virus free contagion.

International travel will be based upon global zones and the effectiveness of inbound and outbound countries, meaning if the inbound country is Green, i.e has Covid-19 under control as determined by a Global agreement protocol, movement of folks from those destinations will be allowed.

There will be maverick destinations that will have a scorched earth strategy for inbound tourism due to the dependency on the economy. Hot spots by destinations and countries will evolve and will define the landscape. Airlines will look very different with zoned seats, check-in will be longer, costs will be higher. Check-ins for transport will be longer.

Cruise lines will be affected due to the large numbers in closed environments. Iconic destinations will show relief in the fact that tourism numbers will be lower which is most likely to be the best result from the Covid – 19 Pandemic.

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

For the public, depending on their risk profile ,they will most likely focus on Staycations. Domestic travel will benefit and assist in recreating economic value to the country economics. Virtual Tourism will be enjoyed by those that are comfortable using the new platform of Virtual Destination experiences.

We have created www.staycationaustralia.com to fill the void.

Jessie Festa, Jessie on a Journey

Jessie Festa launched Jessie On A Journey in 2011 to empower and inspire travel-loving women to hit the road without fear and to go beyond their guidebooks. The website focuses on solo, active and offbeat travel. For those wanting to become digital nomads, she runs a travel blogger school and speaks worldwide at travel conferences.

Describe your 2020 travel plans before COVID-19.

Before COVID-19, I had plans to travel to speak at a number of conferences around the USA — and even to teach a few workshops on a retreat in Mexico, plus my fiancé and I were planning a honeymoon in Tanzania. Of course, all plans were cancelled, including our wedding in the Finger Lakes.

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

I’ll likely take things slow — sticking to nearby staycation-type getaways and then some domestic road trips. Honestly, living in a tiny NYC apartment the thing I’m craving most is nature and light, even if it’s at a bed & breakfast in the nearby Catskills.

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

I can forsee many people staying domestic for at least the first six months or so, and then as they get more comfortable, starting to fly again. This is such uncharted territory, and I picture many people wanting to be sure it’s safe before getting on a plane.

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