The presence of COVID has put a weird and at the same time amazing twist on travel. Small, intimate, hidden, local gems came into the spotlight, unconventional solutions came forth, as all world capitols closed their doors to tourists.
Videos are going viral as more and more people invest in starting a “van life” with their families. Packing their things, and never looking back. Others - such as myself - are looking for local hidden gems, where they can retire for a long weekend while keeping a safe distance from everyone.
What does this mean for travel? Is this the era of local travels? Will people actually take the time to explore their surroundings, and learn to appreciate their environment? One thing’s for certain: there is a Four Seasons in my city capital that hasn’t been open for months, and nobody actually misses it. And there is a cabin for two with a little jacuzzi in the woods maintained by a local family in the countryside, and they’re booked solid for the next 16 months.
So riding away in vans, escaping to the woods, are we running from isolation into isolation? Or are we just desperate to be tourists once again, even if it’s within our country’s borders? I like to think it’s both.
Travel and tourism is the physical manifestation of stepping out of your comfort zone. For the past year, we’ve been locked into our comfort zones both physically and mentally, while the world was changing rapidly around us. Therefore for us, travel savvies, the only solution to this problem is travel. Whether it’s hiking, exploring new hidden places, going to the woods for days, or upgrading our 1500 square feet homes to a 100 square foot one, we must go.
Tourism has taken an introverted twist in the past year, it’s up to you to decide if this change is to your liking or not. But what does this mean for travel in the future? When we can finally take our masks off, hop on a plane and go anywhere? Will we no-questions-asked leave and never return? Will we have changed so much that we’d rather keep exploring our surroundings? Will the economy let us travel?
Tourism, and the economy, in general, have to heal before we can start traveling with the same momentum again. People need to heal emotionally, physically, financially. And when the people have healed, the economy will grow stronger. And only after that can Four Seasons open its golden gate again for the wide-eyed wanderer. All we can do until then is live day by day and look for adventure in every street corner we cross. Search for the small opportunities, and be brave enough to book future travels. We will get there.
I believe travel and tourism have many many forms. Visiting the seven wonders of the world, the hidden gems of your country, or listening to the diverse rumbling of the road under our wheels in different states, travel is always there, we’ll always crave it. And with COVID opening the eyes of all young people today, making them look closer for adventure, I am certain that with the opening of borders, an entirely new and fuller spectrum of travel will rise again.