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Future of Travel

How future travel is going to be so different...

We paused traveling to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Local and federal governments around the globe are debating the appropriate levels of distancing, also we are informed about general travel news to inform and prepare us for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.

But what is amply evident is that the human instinct is to see new things, experience other cultures and detach oneself from the familiar routine.

So we all can't wait to be able to travel again. Yes...but in which conditions?

Travel though is certainly set to change for everybody in the months and years ahead. The new normal will give way to a different structure of movement. The outlines of what that might be, initially at least, are beginning to form.

This time around, it seems inevitable that swabs, masks and disinfectant sprays are going to be required for every flight. Blood tests could be standardized.

Compulsory quarantine periods, perhaps in the currently under-occupied hotels that surround major airports, is already a reality. The likelihood is that this will endure for some time and be commonplace everywhere.

A short business trip accompanied by two weeks of quarantine away from friends and families would make little sense for most.

In a document released the World Travel and Tourism Council had a first stab at how the “new normal” could be constructed for travelers.

Cleaning procedures in airports, airplanes and hotels would become industry-wide standards. Digital check-in and contact less payments would prevail. To minimise contact with cabin crew, flyers would buy sealed grab-and-go food packages before boarding. Social - distancing queueing and in-flight masks would be a must.

Flyers would be expected to turn up three hours in advance for short-haul flights and four hours for long-haul ones so that swab tests could be conducted. Passengers not facing quarantine would be expected to sign up for contact tracing through a telephone app in the destination country. The bridge would become a disinfectant tunnel.

Everything must change: the way we fly, the way we dine, how we wait in line — even how we go to the beach. Our very concept of vacation may have to change.

But something is certain: good travel opens our minds and helps us reject prejudice and respect different cultures. It erases man-made borders and boundaries and connects us through our common humanity.

Slowly, our world will reconnect — border by border — and open up.

Above all, we as travelers — and especially those blessed with the extra income and leisure time to be tourists — have to make better decisions. We must ask, “Who/What/Which resource am I exploiting? How can I make sure my adventure benefits the individuals, communities, cultures, and natural spaces I encounter? How can I support small and medium social enterprises? How can I help empower women around the world? How can I help protect the wildest bits of our planet and make sure they survive this century?”

We must expect a more sustainable standard — and some of us will have to change our dreams. We might have to look away from the crowded Sistine Chapel and seek out a lesser-known fresco in Ravenna, and forgo seeing that tiger “in the wild” in favor of volunteering for a conservation organization in Borneo. It will still be an adventure — it’ll just be a different one than the photos we’d been jealous of before.

We have never been so connected as a world, and we have never been more isolated than most of us are right now. We will get back to traveling, but when we do, we have to do it right.


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