The global pandemic has changed the way we travel in almost every way. For some, it has meant putting travel on hold indefinitely. For others, it has introduced a whole lot more safety and sanitation regulations. But it’s safe to say the die-hard travellers among us have found alternative ways to satisfy their thirst for adventure. With the future of long-haul international travel looking uncertain, these new travel trends could be here to stay.
A combination of factors have led to a huge increase in the number of people taking road trips this year. With many international borders closed, people wanting to avoid airports and public transport, and restrictions on how far you can travel from your hometown, jumping in the car and choosing your own adventure is a pretty appealing idea. With complete control over the itinerary, the ability to stop off wherever you like, and the option to stay an extra night or two somewhere that takes your fancy means you can really make the trip your own.
It may not be as exotic as travelling abroad but taking the opportunity to explore your own backyard will give you a new appreciation for the place you call home. A good starting point is to pick a few places you’d like to visit, map them out and decide how long you want to be spending in the car each day. Adding a National Park or two to the itinerary gives you a good excuse to get out and stretch your legs. ANd if you’re lucky enough to have any UNESCO or National Trust sites near you, it’s always nice to round out your trip with a bit of history and culture.
Have you ever explored your city through the eyes of a tourist? Trust me, it will shed a whole new light on the places that seem dreadfully familiar. Rather than speed walking through a park to get to the office, you might take the scenic route and discover a gorgeous rose garden or cafe tucked away under the shade of the tall trees. You’ll discover laneways that lead to hole-in-the-wall eateries and entire walls plastered with street art and colourful murals. You might find new cocktail bars behind secret doorways and wander into boutiques you pass on a regular basis but never have the time to explore. If you explore your own city with the same open mind you would somewhere abroad, you’d be amazed at what you’ll find.
With hotels nearly empty due to the lack of international travellers, you can score some fantastic deals on accommodation if you book directly. I recommend ringing or emailing the hotel directly and asking for the best rate, or seeing if there’s a locals rate. It won’t always come off but it’s worth a shot. Keep an eye out for dinner-and-a-show packages as well, or restaurants offering a special rate for degustation and set menus.
Stop and drop holidays
Usually, when I travel to another country, I want to soak up as much of it as possible so I spend a few days in one place before moving on to the next town or city. But with the risk of community transmission, many travellers who are still opting for international holidays are choosing a place they love and staying there. This might mean choosing a flash hotel or resort that has everything they need to relax and enjoy their time away.
Big resorts are perfect for the stop and drop style trip. You’ll usually have a few restaurants to choose from, a pool (hopefully multiple), and other amenities like a gym, yoga centre, library and sometimes even a boutique or two. You might even have access to water sports like jet skiing, surfing, snorkelling and stand up paddle boarding depending on where the resort is located.
While this means you miss out on seeing the “real” side of the country you’re visiting, it does mean you reduce the risk of coming into contact with someone who may be infected.
The remote working phenomena has been gaining traction for the last five-or-so years but with the enormous impact of COVID-19, it has become almost essential to keep businesses afloat. But working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working from “home.” Many professionals have taken the opportunity to take an extended trip to places where the cost of living may be lower than their home city and have set up makeshift offices to conduct their work.
For example, people with incredibly high rent costs living in London may choose to sublet their flats and head somewhere cheaper to wait out the storm. Spain and Portugal are among the most popular for working holidays as living costs are quite low but access to decent WiFi and other amenities are excellent. In a similar move, people with holiday homes in surrounding countries may take the opportunity to make a temporary move there while they continue to work remotely for companies back home.
Of course, this is not suitable for all roles and industries but for people who are able to conduct all of their work remotely (or who have been forced to), it’s an option worth considering.
WIth major cities in lockdown and entire office blocks closing their doors and telling their staff to work from home, the very concept of “home” could mean different things to different people. For many, it’s meant being locked in their flats or apartments for months on end, but for others, they’ve gone home home. Returning to the towns they grew up in, these individuals are sometimes living rent-free back at their parents’ place or crashing with an old friend. They’re enjoying the trip down memory lane while they do their usual work hours in their childhood bedroom or in the cafe they used to stop into.
Being close to friends and family is something many of us took for granted before the pandemic. And while Zoom calls and Facetime wines do help to bridge that gap, they’re not the same as being in the same room as the people you love. So the decision to return to the towns from their childhood has likely been an emotionally-driven one for those people.
It seems COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere fast, so embracing these travel trends and making the most of the time have to explore our own backyards is the best way to keep those travel craving at bay until we can all jet off again.