Travel After the COVID Calamity: Great Expectations?

Posted on  by GALLIVANCE.NET48 Comments

Two People Social Distancing
Heathrow Tower
Plane Reflection
Heathrow Roofline
Moving Sidewalk 2

Who could have imagined that making a simple plane trip meant showing up hours early, removing your shoes, jerking out your tiny liquids, displaying your electronics, and wondering if the body scanners can see the hole in your underwear?

In the world of travel, there is Pre-9/11 and Post-9/11, and whether we liked it or not, we all adjusted. Post-COVID-19 travel will require even more adjustments and once again, if we want to travel, we’ll have to adapt to a “new normal.”

Governments and private companies are scrambling to develop strategies that enable travel while protecting the health of travelers, employees, and in-country residents as well as minimizing the spread of the virus. It’s a staggeringly complex problem, and at this point, it’s impossible to know the details. But there are a few things we can expect.

1. The hassle, expense, and time to travel will test everyone’s patience.

After 9/11 we all learned how to jump through lots of annoying security hoops, and the coronavirus will only add to our misery. Whether it’s government-mandated quarantines, proof of non-infection, or lining up for temperature checks, the hassle of getting to and from our destination is going to get worse.

Less competition caused by bankruptcies, fewer customers on fewer flights, and reduced numbers of seats from social distancing; combine all these factors and there’s no way to avoid higher airfares. Add to this the cost of an “immunity passport,” and any other required documentation, and higher travel costs are a guarantee.

In addition to more money, we’ll be spending more time. Post-pandemic, there’s a certainty of longer waits to check in and board the plane; then comes the joy of standing in seemingly endless immigration queues. And the only workable solutions for travelers are foreknowledge, planning, and patience … lots of patience.

2. Your time on the plane just won’t be the same.

Airlines and their balance sheets have been absolutely hammered by this pandemic, and their survival will require radical changes in not only how they transport passengers, but they’ll also have the new challenge of how to protect them from infection.

Before the COVID-bomb exploded, turning a profit meant squeezing more passengers into smaller and smaller seats. But with a highly communicable disease that loves people in close proximity, this strategy will no longer work.

Planes are virtually empty now, but when it’s safe to fly again, it will be a very different experience. There will be changes in seating, boarding, and food service. According to news website Axios, air travel will never be the same. They caution:

“Masks and social distancing are only the beginning.”

3.  There will be an evolving patchwork of new immigration rules.

Deciding how best to deal with this pandemic has placed the entire planet in uncharted territory. Travel restrictions will be eased, and when they are, each country will be at a different stage in the course of the disease. Consequently, each will have a unique point of view on how best to handle travelers and threats to their population. A complete travel ban works in the short term, but totally closing borders forever isn’t possible … or desirable.

So what will result is an evolving patchwork of immigration procedures that will vary from country to country. Visitors from infection-hotspot countries may be banned altogether, and others might be admitted with forced quarantines. Some nations may also require a vaccination card or an infection-free medical certificate from a doctor.

And most importantly, whatever the requirements, it will be the responsibility of foreign visitors to know exactly what it takes to enter the country and prepare so they’re not refused entry.

4. Will an “Immunity Card” or COVID-19 testing work while we’re waiting on a vaccine?

The silver bullet for the coronavirus is a vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci, everyone’s favorite new Doc and director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases predicts that a COVID-19 vaccine could take 12 to 18 months to develop and be approved for public use. So how do travelers move around in the meantime without spreading the disease?

Dubai-based Emirates Airlines recently carried out blood tests – at the airport! – on all passengers for one of their Tunisia-bound flights. Is this what our future holds? Oh please NO!

We’re hoping the solution is a bit less piercing: more along the lines of what the Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian suggested. He foresees the possibility of an “immunity passport” or some other proof of good health required at airports. There’s some disagreement in the medical community as to how, and if, these certificates would work, but eventually the details will be worked out and travelers will have to get onboard.

5. PPEs will be your new constant travel companions.

Regardless of what officials decide is best for everyone’s protection, you’ll need to pay close attention to your own health and safety by making personal protective equipment a permanent part of your road gear. Masks, hand-sanitizer, and wipes will get added to the packing list, and will always be close at hand. There will be a chance of infection in transit, but vigilance shouldn’t stop when you reach your destination – so prepare.

* * *

When it comes to travel after the pandemic there’s no denying it’s difficult to find bright spots. But after months of gloom and doom, that flicker you see up ahead may just be a light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. An isolation-fatigued world is cautiously allowing itself to think about a staged return to some version of normal, and for some of us the “new normal” includes the ability to travel again.

So begin your online search for that fashionable, non-nerdy mask (that just might make someone smile), and let’s all start imagining our next trip!

Good Health and Happy Trails,
James & Terri

Photo Credits: 1. bantersnaps  2 & 4. Simone Hutsch  3. Joe Green  5. William Navarro 6. Reza Aulia 7. Free To Use Sounds  8. Random Institute

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48 thoughts on “Travel After the COVID Calamity: Great Expectations?”

  1. DFOLSTAD58 says:Wouldn’t you like to be a bug on the wall in the airline boardrooms? They need traveling people and as few obstacles as possible so everything you clearly expect is poison to them.Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:As you know David, businesses are forced to change to survive, but the speed, severity, and number of changes the airlines have to deal with are incredible. This crisis will be a test of leadership and management skills for sure. ~JamesReply
  2. ERIKA says:Very interesting read…its sad that what you wrote is very true. I don’t know what to expect or to say except…We will all have to adjust. Àccept and fly!!!Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Thanks for the comment Erika, and for dropping by the blog. As we said, it’s hard to find bright spots, but we got back to travel after 9/11 and we’ll do the same for COVID-19. In the meantime, we just have to take care of ourselves and stay positive. All the best to you and take care. ~JamesReply
  3. ANNE FRASER @THEPLATINUMLINE.BLOG says:I love the mask. In England they are suggesting that all travellers might have to self isolate for 14 days on entering the country which would stop short summer holidays. It will take a couple of years before we know how long immunity lasts after getting the virus so immunity passports are not round the corner. I think travel will resume but be much more difficult and expensive sadly.Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Anne, Terri found that cool mask for me, and I love it. I really wonder how successful self isolation will be in the long term. It’s an obvious solution, but will visitors obey the rules long term, and if not, how are the rules enforced. And even though immunity is an unknown at this point, I think that immunity passports may be tried as a solution simply because there aren’t any other short-term options. We’ll see. ~JamesReply
  4. THEWONDERER86 says:Ha ha, you saved the best till last! We won’t be flying anywhere anytime soon. We’re not planning on going anywhere anytime soon although restrictions are being eased slightly.
    When we do get on the road again, I think we’ll be exploring Europe (we’re in Holland). I have a long time to work out the best/cheapest way to do that!Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Tracey, I don’t see us flying anywhere in the near future either. Luckily, we don’t have to, and given the hassles and unknowns, it’s just not worth the effort. We really enjoy camping, and when the campgrounds start to open up, we (along with the other 300 million Americans 🙂 ) will try some summer camping.Luckily, in Europe you have excellent train service which will be a better option than flying, so that should be help near term. ~JamesReply
  5. RALIETRAVELS says:“Short-term” prophecies are self-fulfilling; long-term prophecies are self-correcting.”
    I am sure there will be change. Change is the only constant. But little is to be gained from worrying about it.
    I suspect a year from now, we will have to show proof of vaccination to fly or travel internationally. In the meantime, I am just restless to be able to travel in my own country [the U.S.] and Canada.Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:A vaccination is the only real solution for sure. Given the financial incentives for developing a vaccine, I won’t be surprised if some pharma gets one approved quicker than normal. It might not be 100% effective, and may have some issues, but I suspect that given the urgent need, standards might be relaxed a bit until a more effective one is developed. In the meantime, like you, we’re anxious to be able to do a bit of travel at home as well. ~JamesReply
      • RALIETRAVELS says:My response was optimistic given the years it normally takes to approve a vaccine, but so much scientific progress has already been made faster than normal, I remain hopeful.
  6. BEA DM says:Excellent (and depressing) list. I’ve put off my yearly trip to visit my daughter in Chicago, and am just hoping this time next year will be possible. Sounds like it won’t be simple 😦Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Bea, we’ve read some accounts of people taking flights and it sounds abysmal. So sadly, we won’t be taking any plane trips in the near future either. Sorry you can’t visit your daughter. It must be frustrating to have no firm idea of when you’ll be able to. Luckily, here in the US we have a huge country to roam around, so once things open up, we’ll be taking a few road trips. Take care. ~JamesReply
  7. THE WANDERING RVER says:I wonder how much impact not being able to fly internationally (for now) will have on local tourist destinations. Will people opt to visit parts of the US they’ve never been to or explored. Will our national parks become filled with Americans for a change? I don’t think there has ever been a better time to explore our own “backyard”. Right now, we are still planning on staying in Crystal River, even though restrictions are being lifted. I’m in the camp that believes we are opening too quickly. FL has had 2500 new cases since restrictions were eased, not a good sign in my book.Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Laura realistically, for most Americans in the medium term, the only relatively easy way to travel will be by car; so State and National Parks are an obvious choice to get away and achieve some social distancing. And on the backside of this crisis, we may see that it was a shot-in-the-arm for the coffers of parks that are in dire need of additional funds. That would be a good thing.As for opening too quickly, I don’t see that there’s any way to avoid a second peak in infections. Given the economic pressures, it’s a tough call to make, but hopefully a balance can be found. BTW, I didn’t know you were in Crystal Springs. That’s a really nice part of FL (love the manatees). ~JamesReply
  8. JANET says:Best mask ever!Reply
  9. DARLENE says:it will be interesting to see how this all pans out. Right now we can’t even leave our immediate area in Spain. I have a friend who is part of a cruise ship crew and has been stuck on board the ship floating around the Caribean for over 8 weeks. No passengers and no virus either. They just can’t get a port that will let them in and flights to get home! I think we will be doing driving holidays once that option is available. For now, we are looking forward to a trip to our favorite beach cafe. Maybe next week! Cute mask. Take care, both of you. xoReply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Darlene, so sorry to hear about your friend on the cruise ship. I had no idea this sort of thing was going on, but it seems that most governments are erring on the side of safety, and they see no upside in taking the chance of infection. There are no easy decisions in this crisis.One advantage you guys have in Europe is an excellent network for train travel. When things open up, I think that trains will certainly be a better, safer option than flying, so that might help to get back out on the road. In the meantime, I hope your cafe opens soon. Here in our town, the restaurants are due to open in the next week or so, with social distancing and unlimited outdoor seating. We live in a university town, so I’m sure it will be a madhouse, and we hope that it doesn’t cause another spike in infections. Take care. ~JamesReply
  10. GALLIVANCE.NET says:Thanks Janet. I have my Sweetie to thank for that dashing fashion statement. I hear oohs and ahhs of envy down at Kroger :). ~JamesReply
  11. OH, THE PLACES WE SEE says:Thank you for this excellent post (as always) and for confirming what all of us have been suspecting and expecting for the future of travel. Someone asked me if I would ever board an airplane again — and I said definitely YES. In fact, right now sounds good — fewer people and the cleanest seats ever. But the reality of it is, we’ll think twice about the delays, the quarantine time upon arrival, the searches and scans and testing. It’s a lot to take in. But I still remain positive — after all, I haven’t seen all the places on my bucket list, and I still want to! Again, thanks for a great post.Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Rusha, we’re glass-half-full types, but when it comes to travel after the coronavirus crisis we’re also realistic, and that was the tone we were trying to achieve in this post. It’s impossible to predict, but there are some realities that travelers will be unable to escape, and that’s what we want to mentally prepare for. But like you, we’re travelers now and always will be, so we’re trying to stay positive as well.And one advantage to writing a blog is that it’s also a journal. So we can look back in a couple of years and marvel what we believed would happen vs. what actually transpired. We’ll see. Take care down there. ~JamesReply
  12. KATHY says:I have been reading that planes are flying within the US with hardly any passengers (the airlines are required to maintain a certain level of service). It may actually be safer now than it will be later. Not that I am planning on going anywhere right now.I am a UK as well as a US citizen, but I expect that non-residents will be treated the same as non-citizens for quarantine purposes. Don’t expect to visit family there until fall 2021.Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Kathy, it really is impossible to predict how and when this crisis will end. With all the unknown medical details about the virus and it’s long-term behavior as well as the unpredictable human element, who knows where we’ll end up? Truthfully, in the early days of the lockdown we were totally bummed that we had to cancel our trip to South Africa. But after seeing the global spread and the resulting uncertainties, we’re really happy that we don’t have anywhere we need to be other than home. Having said that however, we’ll be glad to be able to travel again once it’s safe. ~JamesReply
  13. SWO8 says:I’m so glad we travelled when we did. They are cramming too many people into too small an space. I guess they can’t do that any more. So not only will they check your shoes, belts and electronics. They’ll be taking you temperature and health history too.
    No, I’m not sure I want the hassle any more.
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Leslie, thinking about getting on a plane now sounds pretty miserable. Maybe when things get settled a bit, it would be good to take the dip-a-toe-in approach and experiment with a short flight and keep it simple. That’s probably what we’ll do. ~JamesReply
      • SWO8 says:I think we’ll just stay put. We’re home, we’re comfortable and still have a lot of memories.
  14. LYNN says:Some great points & insight into what travel may look like moving forward. I am so grateful for the travels I have experienced to date & sure hope I have the opportunity to continue exploring far off lands in my future. In the meantime, I suspect I shall be doing a few more road trips in the land I call home. 🇨🇦💕Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Lynn, I suspect we’ll all be taking this approach, and not all of it is bad. We’ve been car picnicing around our area, and we’ve already visited a number of places that have been on our list for ages. I made the comparison to Post-9/11 and I truly believe that eventually we’ll adapt just the way we did then. Take care of yourself. ~JamesReply
  15. LATITUDE ADJUSTMENT: A TALE OF TWO WANDERERS says:Great post. I think domestic travel is going to be huge. Folks going out and buying RV’s and boats. A second mobile way to live and travel more safely. International flying is going to be more expensive and it will take a long time to get the flying numbers where they were in 2019. Most airlines don’t expect the numbers on International flights to return until 2024 if they are lucky. Too many people are going to be afraid to fly and especially any older folks that have any pre-existing conditions. Newer planes are going to have to be made with more passenger space and safety in mind. The days of cramming us all in like sardines are gone. And we are going to pay for it.Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:I agree with every point you made – particularly about domestic travel. I hadn’t read the 2024 date for international flights, but regardless, I can tell you that when we fly internationally again we’ll plan everything differently. The days of 12-hour, cheek by jowl plane trips are over for us. Planned carefully, short hops from country to country may work.Also, your point about RVs and boats is a good one. We have a tiny popup camper, and when a few campgrounds open up we’ll be out there – along with the other 300 million Americans. 🙂 ~JamesReply
  16. LATITUDE ADJUSTMENT: A TALE OF TWO WANDERERS says:BTW, Ok if we put a link to this post for our next blog post we are putting out today?Reply
  17. LIESBET @ ROAMING ABOUT says:Very timely and insightful post! It will be nearly impossible to find solutions that will make traveling fun again. Or affordable! I think many people will stay close to home for vacations in the near future. My personal solution would be to not use planes anymore for a while (it’s already been two years for me since I flew), but it would be nice to see my family in Belgium again one day.Other than that, a camper to drive to exciting places and to live in, dispersed in nature, might be the solution for a little while. 🙂Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Liesbet, in the US we don’t have the luxury of a good train system like Europe, so for the near future, car (and camper) road trips are going to be the option for just about everyone. And you two are way ahead of the crowd for traveling and living on the road. In these days of uncertainty, that must be good peace of mind. Campgrounds will be crowded, so the trick will be finding primitive boondock options, which I’m sure you’re also well prepared for. As for plane travel, it’s just going to take time, and lots and lots of adjustments. Take care. ~JamesReply
  18. Pingback: Colombia Expats in a COVID-19 World: Mother’s Day Edition
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Thanks so much for the link to our post. We all know that this is a global crisis, and posts like yours put a personal face on it. It’s also interesting to see how reactions and solutions are influenced by culture. When the virus has run its course, it will be fascinating to see what worked and what didn’t. ~JamesReply
  19. HENRY LEWIS says:This is good information James and Terri. It’s never too early to start planning, especially in such unsure times. At any rate, those of us who are fortunate enough to survive both the physical and financial effects of the pandemic and come out the other side with the good health and resources required for travel should feel very fortunate indeed.Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Henry, your point is a good reminder that for most of us, travel is a luxury that we should not take for granted, and that we will certainly appreciate more in the future. And while the financial fallout has been bad so far, I fear that the worst is yet to come. The world economy is a complex beast, and when the results of the massive unemployment and financial struggles begin to truly percolate through, I fear that the bottom will drop out. This is when the good fortune you speak of will come in to play. Take care and good health. ~JamesReply
  20. JOE says:Excellent article! Boy the airline industry sure has been bludgeoned by the corona virus! Profitability in this high fixed cost and low variable cost business has always depended on putting butts in seats. Right now, demand has cratered, so the airlines have grounded almost 20,000 passenger aircraft. Hopefully in a year or so, we will have a vaccine and airline demand will return. Even then, I don’t know how eager passengers will be to fly and pay the higher fares. In the meantime, as many of your commentators say, we will be taking more domestic trips and doing a lot more armchair traveling.Reply
    • GALLIVANCE.NET says:Joe, your statistic about the number of grounded planes is incredible. I knew there were lots of planes in mothballs, but had no idea the number was so high. And part of the high fixed cost is that every plane that isn’t flying and making money, is costing money. Technology and consumer preferences have always forced business to make changes, but I can’t think of any businesses that have had to deal with this many drastic changes in such a short time.A few airlines will come out of this because there’s no other way for us to get around the planet. But in the meantime, I wouldn’t want the job of trying to keep one of these companies financially afloat and make the changes that must be made to go forward: a daunting task for sure. Thanks for an interesting comment. ~JamesReply
      • JOE says:Thank you, James. It is no surprise that Warren Buffet sold his entire stake in the airline industry last week.
  21. EMILY CANNELL says:So true. So true. I guess it will cut down on the crowds 🙂Reply

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