After a year at home due to the no -longer-novel Coronavirus, I’ve been traveling a lot after getting my second coronavirus jab. Two weeks and two days after that last Moderna shot, I was on a plane.
So many people tell me that they can’t wait to start traveling again once they get their vaccines. I think they are going to be very disappointed.
“Our ancestors knew the real deal. The word “travel” comes from the old French word “travail” which means to work,” according to Vagabondish. That’s especially true right now.
The trillion -dollar travel industry was hit incredibly hard with the arrival of Covid 19, and the 975 billion domestic travel industry in the US skittered to a near stop. The domestic cruise industry has been shut down since last March.
While there were some people who never stopped traveling or going on vacation, now that vaccines are here and becoming widely distributed, so many people I know are looking forward to getting vaccinated so that they can travel again. Domestic travel is picking up.
As much as people are looking forward to traveling soon, they should know that they won’t be stepping back into the same travel river that they left a year ago. That trip you’re looking forward to won’t be a total vacation from the harsh reality we’ve been experiencing.
As pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus said, “No man steps into the same river twice.” The travel river you left a year ago has changed a lot while you’ve been home reorganizing your sock drawer.
Travel is a lot more work now.
Millions of people have lost their jobs in the hospitality industry during the Coronavirus pandemic. This has a huge impact on people who are starting to travel again.
Business travel still hasn’t come back–and that’s where a lot of money in the travel industry comes from. Many hotels are still closed down. The bar at the end of the concourse is closed. Rental car companies have thinned their fleets (making it impossible to rent a car in Austin earlier this summer.)
Want to take an uber there instead? You should know that ubers aren’t thick on the ground. Want room service? The restaurant in the hotel is still closed. Want a massage in the hotel….the hotel spa is probably shut down as well–even though the hotel is still charging a resort fee
Your hotel wake up call may tell you that the date is Tuesday, March 15….when it’s the middle of April the following year. The batteries in your remote control might not work, and the curtains in the hotel room will likely need dusting because no one has stayed in that hotel room in a year.
I’ve seen so many people who get super excited when they get vaccinated and immediately book tickets for a trip.
Don’t forget to temper that enthusiasm with the reality that when you wonder into your favorite breakfast place in your favorite city…they’ve been in lockdown as well. You might just catch them at their first breakfast service since the Coronavirus started—and you might have to wait a very long time for coffee or sugar or for a waiter to take your order. (I forgive you Balthazar!)
Life isn’t going to go back to pre-pandemic-ness just because you got on a plane. You aren’t traveling through an interdimentional gate into a different reality.
In the Northeast, where a lot of the beach hotels on the Eastern Seaboard rely on women from Eastern Europe to staff seasonal hotels, we’ll see what all this will mean for hotel staffing this year.
After having such a time of it during the Coronavirus, most of us are ready for some normalcy, just know that the trip you are considering won’t match the experience you had when you traveled pre-pandemic.
Travel is also a bit nerve -racking these days. Planes are flying full, though there aren’t as many planes in the air. People are crowding together in jetways, just as if the last year hadn’t happened. Some people are getting cranky about having to wear a mask.
Given the rise in variants—and the fact that a new one was discovered in Texas this week– you might you might want to make sure to plan everything in advance….and make sure that that all those travel funds and reservations are refundable. Pre-book your airport taxi pickups. Check restaurant days & hours so that you don’t end up disappointed and hungry when you can’t get a taxi and miss your flight…and end up hungry after midnight in an unfamiliar city. (This goes double if you’re gluten-free!)
You might want to pack a little patience as well, because you’re gonna need it.
When you get to where you’re going, cut your friends a little slack. Some smart people aren’t yet ready or able to come out of their Coronavirus bubbles, no matter how seldom you’re in their time zone.