How will we travel once pandemic recedes

Travel industry, the sector which came to a screeching halt amidst coronavirus pandemic, has slowly started to open up in a phased manner. As the countries emerge from the over two-month-long lockdown which was meant to curb the novel coronavirus pandemic, the way we travel won’t be the same at all, till there is vaccine out there. Going forward, we are going to witness a major shift in the travel trends. Travellers will seek for new health safety protocols and social distancing norms to re-initiate their travel plans. They will now look for travel trends that will make them feel safe and confident that their health is safeguarded. Safety, health and hygiene will be deeply embedded in traveller’s psyche and hence in travel choices in the coming future. In this article, we will share our insights about how we think travel will change post-COVID and what you must do to adapt to this new style of travel.


1. Staycations and Offbeat destinations over Touristy places

The travellers are apprehensive to get on an airplane right now. Needless to say, the fear of getting contacted by someone/ something carrying virus is not going to leave us any time soon. Hence, travellers will initially be more comfortable doing in-city trips compared to outstation ones. Domestic destinations reachable within 3-4 hours will be more preferred than the international exotic locations. Most travellers have decided to slow down and indulge in activities that their hometowns have to offer. Staycation will be a major travel trend for the foreseeable future until people get comfortable with the safety measures and how things turn out. Staycations will provide travellers with the much-needed quality time without the hassle of travelling.


To avoid contact with more people, travellers will prefer visiting offbeat destinations instead of the touristy places. Social distancing activities like fishing, walking tours, cycling tours, farm visits, camping, hiking, bird-watching, photography and trekking will be practised more. Theme parks, museums and iconic landmarks that attract a lot of tourist crowd would be abandoned. We started appreciating the often-neglected things like balconies, plants, chirping birds, windows, terraces and fresh air during the lockdown. When the pandemic settles, travellers will likely look towards such places of natural beauty like wellness and wilderness camps.


2. Homestays over Hotels

Travellers will opt to stay at places where human contact is limited and contact tracing is easier. They will prefer staying at private rental properties, boutique homestays and independent AirBnBs instead of big hotels and resorts. For a few months, travellers will be uncomfortable to check-in to properties that have a lot of volume, a lot of people at the reception desk and in the dining rooms.


Accommodations that are more isolated, amidst nature and have a smaller number of rooms will be favoured, e.g. villas and private homes. However, homestays in touristy places like Dehradun and Mussoorie will be less preferred than those in the offbeat locations like Landour.


As travellers will hesitate to venture out for sightseeing, homestays that offer a chance to have meaningful conversations, indulge in some unique, immersive experiences and relish local delicacies within the property premises, will be picked more. Meaningful travel is going to be the next big thing. In-house amenities, cleanliness, hygiene and comfort are the attributes that travellers will look out for in accommodations. Even short-term rentals where the room is equipped with a kitchenette will be in demand for people seeking an extended leisure trip but worried about safety.


3. Private transportation over Public transport

Sanitisation is the new security for future travellers. They will not be confident to use public transportation as there will always be doubts about its cleanliness and hygiene. Also, challenges like crowding, failure to maintain social distance and difficulty in contact tracing, are other reasons why public transportation will be looked down upon. The fear of boarding a shared vehicle is something that travellers are not ready to handle right now. In these times, the classic road trip will make a comeback. Travellers will first plan for short trips to destinations where they can drive in their own private vehicles.


Car and bike rental companies that provide assurance that the vehicles are deep-cleaned after each use are likely to see an uptick. Agencies offering self-drive cars for a rental will be more preferred than chauffeur-driven ones. People will stay away from mass-transport to stay safe. Hence, walking, cycling, two-wheeler riding and personal car driving will see a surge. Even researchers have suggested that personal vehicles are deemed to be extremely low risk in these pandemic times as compared to public transportation.


4. Solo tours or Family tours over Group tours

In the foreseeable future, solo trips hold the key for the revival of the travel sector. Coronavirus pandemic has made us realise how important our family and friends are. Hence, family tours and tours with friends will also surge after the pandemic. People would obviously want to travel with known familiar faces than with strangers from around the state.


Group tours will shrink due to social distancing challenges while travelling with a greater number of people. This would, of course, be a downside for the first time and middle-class travellers who feel more comfortable and affordable to travel as a group. Even if travellers decide to travel as a group, the group will be smaller to ensure social distancing. The vehicles will be less occupied or there will be two vehicles where there is a need for one.


5. Fine dining over Street food

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, people began to think about how they consume food. The ‘thinking’ involves getting to know where their food is sourced from and what safety measures are taken while preparing and delivering it. The chef-driven fine dining restaurants will now make a comeback. Restaurants that curate a better experience right from hygiene to safety in packaging will be preferred over the others. Street food joints, however cheap, will not be a choice of the eatery by travellers. In-house restaurants in resorts will be more trustworthy to eat at than anywhere else outside. While on a staycation, the travellers will prefer to pack the home-cooked food and savour it on the go.


With hygiene and cleanliness being the primary area of concern after the pandemic, street food will not be a preferred food option anymore. Travellers would pick food from their favourite restaurant on their own rather than getting it delivered to their accommodations to eliminate the handler in between. There will be a rise in single portion servings for catering to solo travellers or even group travellers as they won’t be comfortable sharing food now.


6. Rural Tourism over Urban Tourism

The coronavirus outbreak has hit densely populated urban areas much much more than the scarcely populated rural areas. The major reason being built-in social distancing from the geographic dispersion of populations. With urban areas full of things to do and touristy spots, travellers will now look out for a slower pace and more relaxed vacations. Many rental properties in rural areas tend to have extremely spacious land, which can be perfect for secluding oneself from the crowd.


While travellers are still sceptical of moving out on the streets in urban areas, they can enjoy the outdoors in the rural areas. Going for a morning stroll, spotting wildlife in nearby forests, people-watching, and getting to know the local culture can be all done in rural areas without any fear. Getting a chance to eat authentic local cuisine is another reason why travellers will love visiting the countryside. Slow travel is the next popular travel trend. Instead of planning to pack the day with several places to visit, travellers will choose to stay at one place and enjoy and learn most about it. And that's what rural tourism has to offer!


The above are going to be the new travel trends now. The travel industry is going to face a major change, hopefully for good. Travellers will first try to venture out close to home, stay at private homestays, preferably to rural areas, use their own private vehicles to travel, eat at fine-dining restaurants and either travel solo or with family and friends.


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What will travel be like in the coming future according to you? How are you planning to adopt to the changes in travel trends? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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