Pandemic Predictions: Changing the Face of Travel

It started with a touch, and in the blink of an eye the coronavirus went global. Medical scientists will be sorting out exactly what happened for years to come, but we know for sure that travelers contracted a new, local virus and spread it around the world.

We’re now paying the high price for our mobility, and travel will never be the same again.

COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire, and every organization involved in travel is now focused on one thing: How do we get through this? But looming in the distance is their next challenge: What can be done to minimize the damage when this happens in the future?

We don’t have a crystal ball, but our social-distancing time has given us an opportunity to consider some of the issues facing travelers going forward. These four predictions may or may not come to pass. But the world of travel is about to undergo a seismic shift, and a bit of forethought will help us all be better prepared.

1. Air travel will get dicey.

The phrase “too big to fail” entered the lexicon during the financial meltdown of 2008, and as the crisis unfolded, the business world learned that there’s no such thing. Lengthy, widespread travel bans will test the financial strength of the entire travel industry, but the predominant businesses in the crosshairs will be airline companies.

“For airlines this is already bigger than the SARS epidemic, the aftermath of 9/11, or the 2008 financial crisis.” —Alex Cruz, CEO and chairman of British Airways

Undoubtedly, some of the smaller, less financially flush companies will fail. What this means for the flying public will be less competition between the surviving companies, and a corporate desire for a quick return to profitability – which will almost certainly lead to higher prices and fewer choices when you fly.

2. Immigration will insist on a note from your doctor.

Whatever the concerns were in the past, one of the top priorities for immigration officials Post-COVID-19 will be ensuring that visitors entering the country aren’t carrying an infectious disease.

The approach being used at most airports now is screening by temperature. But in a Washington Post article, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital said a simple thermometer isn’t the answer:

“The biggest problem is that temperature screening can miss cases, unwittingly sending sick people through. It can also deliver false positives, potentially sending healthy people into spaces where others are seriously ill. A thermometer, if calibrated and if used appropriately, can detect a fever. Great. We are all happy about that. But is it an effective method for screening people for COVID-19 infection? The answer is no.”

Screening at borders is a complex question for the medical community to answer, but we wonder if travel in the future might require a medical visa? Will immigration officials require a letter from a doctor confirming that you are infectious-disease free?

3. Cruise vacations will go to the bottom of your list.

Given the popularity of cruises, it’s obvious that many vacationers enjoy the fun and relaxation of travel without the hassles of planning and logistics. But the pandemic has shown that as an instrument for spreading communicable diseases, a cruise ship is ideal. All the essential ingredients are there: a large group of people packed into close quarters with lots of shared facilities and unlimited opportunities for person-to-person spread. What was once seen as a low-risk way to travel is now anything but.

This is a watershed moment for cruise lines, and it’s difficult to imagine that all these financially battered companies will make it through the loss of income, lawsuits, and damage to the industry’s health reputation.

4. “Close-To-Home Travel” will have a new cachet.

Most of us are in uncharted territory today, but it’s unlikely that everyone will suddenly lose their desire to travel. It will be a long time before the uncertainties and risk of international travel abate; so until people get comfortable traveling abroad, many might consider shorter, simpler, less-expensive options close to home. Why worry about expensive airfares, quarantine threats, and immigration hassles when you can load the kids and bags into the car and drive to a national park in a few hours? Or why leave town at all? Why not take a fraction of your normal vacation money and plan a staycation near home?

* * *

This long-predicted, global medical emergency has been a wake-up call, and it will cause a sea change in the travel world. Now more than ever, each of us should think about our own risk tolerance, take reasonable and prudent precautions, and make informed decisions about traveling. And even though it will be a different world, it will be waiting when we’re ready to go.

Have any predictions or ideas? We’d love to hear them.

Happy Trails and Good Health,
James & Terri

Photo Credits: 1 & 2.  Lê Tân 3. Ethan McArthur 4. nci  5. Peter Hansen 6. Mahir Uysal 7. Mantas Hesthaven


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

93 thoughts

  1. My husband and I love to travel. We had to cancel a Feb. 2020 vacation to Panama and Costa Rica due to a family illness. Staycations hold no appeal for us. We hope to go somewhere in the Fall. Great post.

    1. Of course this is a dire situation, but serious travelers, are going to want to be back on the road ASAP. We’re in the process of re-scheduling a Brazil/South Africa trip for Sep and we’re hopeful that we can pull it off. I hope that you stay well and that your fall plans work out. Take care and thanks for re-blogging our post. ~James

  2. Hi James & Terri, probably a lot of what you are saying will come true. At least in one form or other in the short term, and possibly for the long term. It is all very uncertain right now, and you have come up with some good points I’m sure a lot of travelers are thinking about. Stay safe.

    1. Bertie, “uncertain” is the perfect word for just about every aspect of our lives as a result of the virus, and unfortunately, this isn’t likely to change soon. But, improvement in the disease statistics in China, and the relaxation of their lockdown gives us some insight and hope that things will improve, and we’ll get through this. Take care and be well. ~James

  3. It pains me to say that your predictions may well come true. I wrote in my last blog that life as we knew it is gone. Taking things day by by day is all we can do but oh, the stress of it and how it will affect us in other ways is not really being talked about. Stay safe.

    1. It’s good to hear from you Lidia. I totally agree with your point about taking things day to day. In times of extreme uncertainty, we’re all forced to deal with the here and now, and because we have no concept of what the future will be, it’s impossible to plan. But for me, dealing with our immediate needs gives me some level control and stability, which is what I will hold on to until the storm passes. All the best to you. Take care of yourself and be well. ~James

  4. This is the first post I have read which tries to predict the future, My prediction after a long time in quarantine lockdown people will want to go on cycling, walking or bird watching holidays. I know I would want an activity holiday.

    1. Anne, we live in a very walkable neighborhood which always has lots of people outdoors. But since social distancing has started, it’s been amazing how many new people we see out walking and jogging. Hopefully, some of these good habits will take hold and become more a part of everyday life for more folks, including in their travel life. Take care of yourself and be well. ~James

  5. A very interesting and timely post !

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here and I really value it, especially because I am part of a ‘community based sustainable tourism’ organization, named ‘Kabanitour’.

    As you mentioned, I am sure that, the way people will travel after the current crisis will be different. But, I do believe that the spirit travel and the urge to explore the unseen world will always be there .

    As I am in touch with many of our friends who are small tour operators and regular travellers, I get a feel that all are dreaming to hit the roads again, once things are settled.

    There will be more screening at the airports and even at destinations, all the travellers will be closely monitored by the authorities for sure, but, it will give us an opportunity to promote thoughtful and resilient travel.

    At this point in time, we are more concerned about the livelihood of the local communities and working to facilitate the same working with the authorities.

    Hope things will take a positive turn soon 🙂

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Shreejith. It’s really good to have the perspective from someone who’s actually in the travel community. I totally agree that people will not lose the desire to travel. Travel has become much more accessible to a larger part of the community, and I think at this point there’s no going back.

      I like your idea of the “opportunity to promote thoughtful and resilient travel.”
      In the long term, the changes in the travel experience will go through a pendulum swing and will eventually center on what works and is sustainable. Take care and be well. ~James

    1. I agree and know that, like the virus, these solutions have become a global issue in the scientific community. The breakthroughs may come in small steps, but rest assured that experts are working feverishly to find a solution. All the best to you and stay well. ~James

      1. Our work is already working on solutions, i.e., virus panels for diagnostics that can very quickly be adapted to new threats and stop the spread in its tracks. We miss travel and look forward to seeing both new and old favorite places again.

  6. Regarding the medical note, I do not think it would be feasible. Even if given the all-clear, one can get infected on the travel date itself. I believe in China, they now have infrared scanners that would detect if you already hae been infected or not. Regarding other travel means, virtual travel guides like online tours of scenic spots will be the norm. Armchair traveling.

    1. Josie, feasibility is one of the medical complications that we mentioned in the post. Feasibility will be a tough part of the problem to solve, but I suspect that it may be a step-by-step improvement in the science that enables at least a yes/no infection test which works instantaneously. And even given this, in the end the only thing that may work on a global scale will be “herd immunity.” We’ll see. All the best to you and stay safe. ~James

      1. Thanks so much for your input.James. Indeed, we all are in a very complicated situation with ever evolving answers. Best wishes too and stay safe for both you and Terri.

  7. What I’d like to see happen is a slowing down – visiting one place for longer, getting a feel for it, really being there instead of rushing to fit in too much, too many spot, ticking things off a list. People making a conscious choice.

    1. Tracey, your suggestion of visiting one place is an excellent way to reduce the risk of future infection. In addition to being a pleasant way to get a better feel for a place, it decreases the opportunities for exposure. Good prediction … wish I’d thought of it. 🙂 ~ Take care and be well. ~James

  8. Mostly, I hope passengers will become more patient, helpful and compassionate to their fellow humans while standing in long queues at airports (ditto: banks, supermarkets, etc). Much as you write about cruise ships, I wonder if the high density of crowded urban areas will become less of a draw, attributable perhaps to the lingering (and unconsciously embedded) trauma effects post-COVID19, and more travelers will turn more to towards the open skies, clean air and wonderment of nature – or as you suggest, better appreciate the simpler options closer to home.

    1. Amit, your point about people seeking less-crowded urban areas is excellent. I suspect that after the crisis calms a bit there will be lots of people in big cities that begin to think “There must be a better way.”

      We live in a medium-sized city and when I see the news from New York, Chicago, etc, I’m happy to be right where I am. It also helps that the governor of our state, has done a wonderful job of being informative, rational, and most of all keeping calm. Take care and all the best for continued health. ~James

  9. People are wonderfully adaptable. I was interested to read your post but have no real idea what will happen.
    Back in the 1980s, I worked as a futurist for a major corporation when that was a fad for a short time. The one thing that stuck with me from that period was a quote from another guy doing the same thing: “short-term prophecies are self-fulfilling; long-term prophecies are self-correcting.” Since then, I have seen him proved correct time after time.

    1. A futurist eh? I should have consulted you on this post. Your quote about prophecies is a good one, and I’m sure that human history has proven it to be true. Another thing that history has proven is the resilience of the human spirit. Despite what has sometimes been a high price in human life, we’ve managed to get through past calamities, and in general, have had a gradual improvement in the human condition. It will be the same with CV, and hopefully, what we learn will make it better the next time it happens. Take care and be safe. ~James

  10. All this makes sense, and I vrey much hope you’re being a pessimist. I live in Rome, and visit my daughter in Chicago every year. As it is, I’ll probably postpone my June trip – missing out on a memoir-writing course, but all things considered, so what? – hoping things don’t get nasty (rules & regulations and more expensive airfare) by September….

    1. Bea, our heart goes out to you and everyone in Italy who are going through this horrible time and I’m sure you’re all wondering when the tide will turn. I’m sure it’s hard to be encouraged watching the daily news, but things will eventually settle down to what will be a New Normal. We share your hope for travel in Sept, because we just re-scheduled our S. Africa trip. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed. All the best for your safety and good health in Rome. ~James

    1. I’m sure that absolutely every cruise company employee, high or low, is working an exhausting schedule trying to weather this storm. I truly wonder how the business will survive. Good health to you. ~James

  11. “We’re now paying the high price for our mobility” —- that phrase struck me hard. I love travel and it feeds me in a way that nothing else does. But when I plan travel again — whenever that is —- I will be thinking of what you said. Thank you for a thoughtful post.

    1. Janet, as long as there’s been epidemic human infections, travelers have been one of the primary culprits for the spread, but curiosity and a desire to roam is in our nature. So it’s only a matter of time before all of us are back in the saddle and on the road again. You know how we feel about travel, and I can’t imagine you staying in place for long. Fingers crossed on Catalpa 🙂 ~J&T

  12. Beautifully organized and written, as always. We, too, are very worried about the future of travel, for the mere “being there” in another place has been not only educational but also quite enjoyable. And we’ll say it: we loved cruises.
    We may have to live with memories for now, but if we see a break in any of this social distancing and sad news about those infected and dying, we will begin looking to see how we can get to the places we haven’t seen yet. Until then, it’s virtual vacations for us.

    1. Rusha, there’s no denying that “being there” gets in the bones, and in our experience, there’s no substitute. We’re buttoned down here in KY, but it’s only a matter of time before we get the all clear, and then we’re outta here. I’m sure you and Bert are thinking the same thing.

      And as we stand staring at a bus with a Cyrillic destination placard in the window, we certainly think: “Ummmm. There may be something to these cruises.” But as I’ve said to others, I truly can’t imagine how the industry is going to get over all this. In addition to very deep pockets, it’s going to take a total stem to stern (pun intended) rethink and redesign of the business. In the meantime, all the best to you and Bert there in TN. Be safe and healthy. ~James

      1. We agree-a true “rethink” of the cruise industry. But would you believe that another Viking brochure arrived in the mail today? And I must admit, I opened it and started lusting over the itineraries we’d love to experience. The consumer may have to change as well!

  13. It’s going to be an interesting period and I fear a longer one than we anticipate.

    For regular, international travel to resume there are so many bodies involved in the process (let’s assume the US eases any travel restrictions in regard to your rescheduled trip, you’re still then also reliant on Brazil &/or South Africa doing so at the same stage)

    It’s going to be far more gradual I feel, and we’ll find some countries more selective of who they allow to enter and when (depending on how widely the infection was spread, may dictate when one can again enter from that country)

    From a travel industry perspective, we’re in a real period of limbo

    Nobody can travel here at present (domestic or internationally), which means nobody is booking which = no cash for anyone!

    Businesses are already closing doors and you’ll certainly see airlines, big and small fall to pieces on the back of this.

    Sadly, all we can do at present is wait, but the most important thing I can recommend is simply don’t cancel your travel plans, simply reschedule (as many times as you need to).

    Airlines and travel operators need all the support and consumer confidence they can get right now!

    1. Chris you make an excellent point about all the moving parts of the travel world, and I totally agree. There’s no doubt that it will be a patchwork of rules and regs which vary from country to country. And the bottom line, as always, is that we as travelers will have more hoops to jump through. Which, at the end of the day is a small price to pay, but one I’m not looking forward to.

      We scheduled our trip to S. Africa through Brazil before all the shit hit the fan, and had we known, we would have kept our itinerary much simpler. We’re committed because of the purchased tickets, but as you say, it will involve restrictions in the US, Brazil, and S. Africa. So who knows? In the meantime, limbo it is. All the best to you and Sarah downunder. Take care and be well. ~James

      1. And to you both as well!

        It’s amazing how the travel ban was felt by me immediately.

        I touched down in Brisbane, in transit on the way home to Melbourne (from PNG) and I immediately felt sick in my stomach.

        There were a lot of grounded aircraft and I felt constricted knowing I couldn’t travel abroad for now, even though there was presently nothing booked until November!

        Here’s hoping we can all get back on the road or into the skies sooner rather than later!

        Stay safe


  14. I think the stay at home message will be ongoing for a while. A friend is stuck on a cruise ship in the Panama canal as we speak. A trip to South America she has planned for a long time has turned into a nightmare. It will be interesting to see where all this will lead. Perhaps it is a wakeup call. I hope you are both safe and well as we all wait out the storm. xo

    1. Darlene, it’s good to hear from you. With all the grim news from Spain, we were wondering how you were doing. We were disappointed to cancel our trip, but being in the comfort of our own home is exactly where we want to be to wait this out. I truly feel for your friend stuck on a cruise ship, and can’t imagine the stress and discomfort she must be going through. We hope that things are going well for you there, and that things improve all over Spain soon. All the best for your continued health and safety. ~James

      1. Thanks, James. We are OK at the moment as we live in a quiet area, usually busy with holidaymakers but no one is here at the moment. We are following the strict rules, that are policed. Happy to have a dog to take turns walking. All the best to you and Terri. Stay safe and well.

  15. Not that I’m a frequent world traveler, but I worry about the devastation of the travel industry. We may not recognize it a year from now.. My recent trip demonstrated how fragile that situation has been all along. We were the last customers at the Airbnb in Ballyferriter and they were getting cancellations almost every hour. They suspended operations for the next few months but they just renovated and have big bills to pay. That is probably the norm for the little operators. We were staying in one of only 22 rooms still booked in the Dublin Westin hotel and our original hotel was closing when we arrived. In town. Our flight home included about a dozen or more tour guides and scuba instructors that were out of work. We will probably see mergers and bankruptcies shortly.

    1. Thanks for your report “from the trenches.” We all knew this sort of thing was going on, but you witnessed the real effects and put a face it. One thing that I’ll always be amazed at is how quickly everything collapsed. The Westin chains of the world have a financial cushion to fall back on, but you’re right, the small operators and Mom & Pop places will very quickly be in dire straits and who knows how and if they will survive at all. Mergers is something that I hadn’t thought about, but you’re right that it will be a potential survival mechanism for some companies.

      I’m glad you were able to make it home, and we’ll all keep our fingers crossed that the the medical community and government organizations get the virus under control as soon as possible. ~James

  16. Despite our close-call getting out of Chile this month, our wanderlust remains untarnished. Right now; however, with all the uncertainties of the pandemic, it is impossible to plan any travel. In the short-term though, I think your fourth prediction of the rise of close-to-home travel is most certainly going to occur. Maybe now is the time for us in the USA to plan visits to all of our wonderful state and national parks, and great geological points of interest? Take good care!

    1. Joe, having spent a month camping out west last summer, I was reminded of what fantastic places the National Parks are for social distancing. I suspect that at this point most people are just trying to make it through, but when the virus runs whatever course it’s going to run and things calm down a bit, people are going to be sick and tired of sitting at home. We’ve rescheduled our Brazil/S Africa trip for Sept/Oct and are hoping it works. We’ll see. In the meantime, all the best to you and best of luck in staying safe and healthy. ~James

    1. Shelley, because travelers were one of the main culprits in this pandemic, you can bet that going forward they’ll be getting closer scrutiny from health and immigration officials. It’s sad I agree, but at this point it’s inevitable. All the best to you for continued health and safety. ~James

  17. I agree James, travel will see changes as a result of
    the chaos that has ensued with Covid-19. I am hopeful that when we come through this very challenging time, those of us who have the desire to travel, will still be able to do so, respecting sure to be new measures put in place. There are so many places I have yet discover💕

    In the meantime, I am quite content to remain in my own little community, hunkered down until we flatten the curve! 🇨🇦 Hope you & Terri remain safe & well.😘

    1. Lynn, your attitude is perfect, because honestly, I’m not sure there’s much else for us to do. We cancelled our trip, and while it was a disappointment, thank goodness we weren’t caught on the road like so many other travelers.

      And as for your own little community, that’s a good place to be. I wouldn’t want to be in any large city now and have to deal with the extra hassles and risks that big crowds generate at a time like this.

      So take care of yourself and loved ones, and be well. ~James

  18. No doubt this is going to have lasting implications on the travelling industry. I’m just glad we went when we did. Not sure I want to risk our health and put up with the other associated problems.
    Time to live a little more vicariously.

    1. Leslie, I feel for the people that must travel now because it has to be stressful and downright weird. As for people choosing to travel, well honestly, I respect them for their bravery, but I wouldn’t want it to be me. I’m sure there are deals to be had and there will be tales to tell, but it’s not for us now. All the best to you, and stay safe and healthy. ~James

  19. Right now we would be on a cruise ship going through the Panama Canal, James and Terri. I am ever so glad we aren’t! We bailed early. Cruise ships are no stranger to viruses. I remember dealing with the norovirus several years ago. I feel for the industry and even more so for the people who are out there cruising now. I think that the industry will have to go through some radical changes to survive.

    Here are some futuristic thoughts:

    – Medical passports that constantly diagnose your health.
    – A boom in virtual reality travel that allows for interaction. The guide takes you on a tour of Pompeii and you can interact directly with him along the way, and possibly other travelers and local people as well. The tour might even have the capability of dropping you into an historical simulation as you go. All sorts of things could be done here. Business travel could mainly be handled through virtual meetings, for example.
    –Travel by lottery that continues to allow for real travel but greatly reduces numbers and spreads travelers out. This might resolve another problem as well— areas being inundated by tourists (which are already considering limits.)

    For now, I agree with you on local travel as a way to satisfy our wandering ways. Even at 77, I can still hoist a backpack and disappear into the wilderness. Social distancing at its best. (grin) I know that it isn’t for everyone (thankfully), but there are numerous other options out there. Even here, however, travelers tend to congregate in a few areas and need to spread out.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post, James and Terri. –Curt

    1. You dodged a bullet on your Panama Canal trip Curt. And your futuristic ideas are excellent and exactly what we were hoping for. I can tell you put some thought into them. Your idea for virtual tours is really good, and I’m surprised someone isn’t already doing it. Given today’s tech, it’s totally possible, and while not the same as being there, it’s a great substitute.

      And travel by lottery is also feasible, and given the risk of potentially infectious crowds, it’s something that busy attractions could consider. We’ll keep an eye on what happens, and one of our future posts will begin: “One of our regular readers, Curt Mekemson had some great ideas years ago that have come to fruition.” Thanks much for an interesting and thought provoking contribution to our post. All the best and you and Peggy. Stay safe and healthy. ~James

  20. Great post.
    I think we are a month or two away from a global fiscal collapse. Say France and Germany ( Which has 80% dept to their previous pandemic GDP ) declare insolvency, call all their loans to other countries to save their economies. Well, Italy, Spain and who knows what other country does the same. Bingo, the world economies will collapse as China and Russia only have so much money they can loan and they will need it for their own survival.
    Thinking about traveling and getting back to normal should be the least of our concerns. Getting out of this one is going to take a quick vaccine or a miracle!

    1. I think that every serious financial expert is predicting some sort of global recession as a result of the pandemic. I’m no expert, but frankly, I can’t see how it can be avoided. However, most of the disagreement that I read is about how deep and how long it will be. The domino collapse that you suggest certainly could happen, but the economies of most of the major players on the world stage were in fairly good condition, so a wholesale collapse would be exceptional. But, and this is a big but, this is an exceptional event. We’ll see what happens, and hope for the best. Stay safe and healthy. ~James

  21. It would be good if this sounded the death knell for those ugly, polluting, behemoth cruise ships (not necessarily ones like Hurtigruten or the river boats). However, given the posters on cruisecritic foaming at the mouth because the residents of Broward county don’t want infected or potentially infected passengers disembarking in their midst, I suspect not.

    1. Kathy, for a number of these companies, you may get your wish. But having said that, all it takes to see how popular these cruises are is to be standing on the quay when one of these big boys unloads passengers. With the right kind of improvements and financial wizardry, some of the companies may come out the other side. It will be interesting to watch. Take care of yourself and be well. ~James

  22. Great topic and article! Your predictions will probably come through. In a selfish way, I think it will be nice that travel becomes less popular again – I liked it better when I started my adventures in the late nineties. 🙂

    But, travelers will remain travelers – in our situation the only alternative would be to buy/rent a house and settle like everyone else – and we will find a way to keep exploring. Luckily, the US has enough to offer to keep anyone entertained for years. While we’d been looking forward to abroad travel again, we might remain in the country now for another year or so.

    I’ve never been on a cruise. Hopefully, I didn’t miss the boat. 🙂 But the frugal side of me thinks there might be some cruise ship deals in the future!

    1. Liesbet, your comment that “travelers will remain travelers” is spot on. There will be a length of time when we all will, and should, stay in place. But at some point travelers will feel comfortable venturing out again.

      You’re also right about the US having lots to keep us entertained, so I expect to see lots of folks taking advantage. We enjoy camping, so as our weather improves and the virus situation declines, we’ll try to get out for some time outdoors. In the meantime, we’ll just take it day to day and hope for the best. You and Mark take yourselves and stay healthy. ~James

  23. Interesting post, James. I think you are right on with a number of your predictions, but I will also predict that after some amount of time, some things will go right back to the way they were before! (Let’s hope it’s not the cruise ships – haha) It’s like what happened after 9/11; we got kinder and nicer to each other … for a while. I think people will slow down their travel schedules, avoid super-crowded tourist sites, etc. for a while while they are still gun-shy, but as soon as things seem to be back to normal, the frenzy will start anew. I WISH we could learn some lessons from the calamities that befall us, but we never seem to. Stay healthy and sane!

    1. Lexie, I take your point about things going back to the way they were, because whether through necessity or just personal preference, people that want to travel will get back out on the road. We’ve proven time and again that our collective memories are short.

      However, every country in the world that has the virus except China, got the disease from travelers. And just as Post 9/11 governments put security procedures and rules in place to prevent terrorists free movement, I think there will be a similar analysis going on to address foreign travelers and the potential for infectious diseases. It’s impossible to know exactly how each country will handle it, and most likely it will be a patchwork of rules and regulations that vary from country to country. But this is the change that I see for all travelers going forward, and as always, devoted travelers will jump through whatever hoops we have to so we can travel. In the meantime, take care of yourself and loved ones, and be healthy. ~James

      1. I think we will find you were quite prescient about the changes we will see coming from outside ourselves! I should have clarified that I meant the travelers themselves will drift back to their old ways, not so much the procedure changes that may/should occur.

  24. I did once ponder if a time would come that would separate me from my family on the other side of the World, although I assumed it would be a global war rather than a pandemic. I was due to go home in Aug, having not seen my family for 2 years. Our PM has muted the possibility of not allowing entry from hotspots like Europe and the US for 18 months so now I’m facing the possibility of not seeing them next year either. Like you, I anticipate a hike in flight prices and I expect many once-popular places (including my own country) will take years to rebound. I’m not a fan of cruise ships so won’t be sad to see them go. I’ve always been an advocate for exploring your own doorstep as much as going abroad so I hope to see domestic tourism buoy up our failing tourism industry, and I for one plan on making several domestic trips to support what small businesses remain at the end of this all. I also hope for more conscientious travel in the future across the globe to prevent a return to the damaging nature of tourism in many places.

    1. Fi, we were long-term expats in the past, so I can relate to concerns about not being able to get to see family on the other side of the world. We had to make unplanned trips back for a couple of family emergencies, and luckily, we were able to make both. But, it could have easily gone the other way.

      And you bring up another of the big issues facing travelers in the future – virus hot spots and whether countries will or won’t allow inbound travel from those places. This isn’t something that many people have thought about, but going forward, it will definitely be an issue. As I said to someone else, every country in the world that has the virus except China, got the disease from travelers, so you can bet that governments are going to be much more vigilant in the future as to who does, and does not get in. It’s an absolute unknown at this point. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I hope that your travel plans work out in the summer. Take care of yourself and your loved ones and be well. ~James

  25. That/s an interesting perspective. in these confusing times, I haven’t yet had enough space in my mind to reflect on my surroundings but rather on what’s happening to me personally. Since I do connect online with so many of my friends or people I could have gone on a date with before the pandemic, a lot of travel plans are popping up in our conversations both as a regret of “Why didn’t we think of /do that earlier?” or thinking like if we had a chance to survive this pandemic, this is what I missed in my life and want to seize the chance to enjoy. It also gave us some time to pick destinations that we never have thought of before. I can see a trend coming up towards Azerbijan and Uzbekistan and Bosnia, may be it’s a search for peaceful places in such a dangerous time. These are destinations we took sometime to think of.

    1. Thanks for your comment and for dropping by the blog. Given the global nature of the virus, we wanted to get different perspectives, and your ideas are informative. You make a valid point about making different decisions in retrospect. I think that the lockdown happened relatively quickly for most people, and if they were like us, they were surprised. We had to cancel a month-long trip to Africa, but on a much more local and more mundane scale, we’ve said: If we had known we wouldn’t have been eating out for a long time, we would have gone to our favorite restaurant instead of the pizza place down the street! 🙂 And you’re right that over the coming weeks (and maybe months) we’ll all have a chance to think about priorities and what’s really important in our lives. In the meantime, take care of yourself and loved ones and be well. ~James

  26. Great post in tough times. I honestly wonder if we will be able to travel anywhere outside of our borders until there is a vaccine. I am trying so hard to be optimistic and hope that this peak over the next few months will be it, however, I wonder what will happen this fall and winter. Thinking of not being able to travel for that long is tough so I’m trying to remain very optimistic but then again travel is the least of my worries when so many people are dying and losing their jobs. Good news is so much research is coming out and I am hopeful we will learn our lesson for the future when another virus strikes.

    1. NIcole, you make an interesting point about not traveling outside the US until there’s a vaccine. Given how quickly and easily this virus spreads, there could be flare-up pockets and hotspots scattered around the world for months and months. And because it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, it could flare up there in winter.

      But one thing that doesn’t get mentioned very much is the number of people who have been infected and are recovering. And actually, the recovery numbers are quite high, so I wonder what part “herd immunity” will play in the long term. Given the high recovery rates as well as a global scientific community working on solutions, I’m hopeful that a solution will come sooner than we think. In the meantime, we can still dream about travel and mentally plan that next big trip. All the best to you. Stay safe and healthy. ~James

  27. I suppose Steve and I are lucky, our travel plans have nearly all be centered around US travel. I have to say, shelter in place takes on an entirely different meaning when your house is on wheels. We were supposed to work in NH this summer, but have decided it is not in our best interest to travel there at this time. We were going to start work on the 25th of April and the campground has repeatedly told us they would be opening on schedule, but we just can’t justify the 1400 mile trip. Not with so many states stopping out of state plates and giving them the third degree on itinerary. Then, what if we can’t get back to FL to check on my dad?

    I hope your rescheduled trips goes off without a hitch. High airfares and free cruises, lol, something to look forward to.

    All the best~

    1. Laura, having a home that’s mobile gives you and Steve a whole set of problems that the rest of us don’t have to worry about. But from what I read and see online, your concerns about interstate border problems is totally legitimate – particularly heading up the east coast into a huge population center. And with all the uncertainties in the equation, I can see why you’re reluctant to head out to the NE.

      Strangely, we’re living through the crazy scenarios that we read about in “End of Days” novels. I guess that the best we can hope for is a comfortable place to shelter and good health. All the best to you and Steve, and I hope things get sorted so you can get on with your plans. Stay safe and healthy. ~James

  28. I was recently writing a similar post, trying to “predict” the future, I was surprised moments ago when I found your post and I realized we were writing it on the same day, only on different parts of the world. As someone who works in the travel industry, I really don’t know what to think anymore – I was very pessimistic a week ago, casually optimistic two days ago, pessimistic again yesterday and with a very positive attitude today. All my bookings for the next three months were abruptly canceled 10 days ago, and then new bookings for June started to appear today. Not sure what to tell those people, but for now I am following their optimism. I think people will want to travel after all of this, but finances will become an issue. On the other hand, maybe more and more people will want to make of their travel a “real travel”, a real cultural experience, getting to know local traditions, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not only the interior of a cruise ship… But it all doesn’t matter right now, as long as we are healthy, a visit to a museum online will do…

    1. Thanks for the comment Dejan, and for dropping by the blog. It really is quit a coincidence that our posts were written on the same topic and the same day. We aren’t in the travel industry, but we love to travel and we do write a travel blog, so what the crisis means for us and the travel world is important to us for sure. I agree with your point that, for many reasons, travel in the future may be more about quality over quantity. And with the crowds that arrive at some of the more popular destinations, this may not be a bad thing. It was interesting to read about the uptick in June bookings. We have re-scheduled a month-long trip to South Africa for Sept/Oct, but don’t really know if it will happen or not. But, with all the sickness and death, you’re right that travel is way down the priority list for the foreseeable future. Best of luck to you in your business as well as staying safe and healthy in your personal life. ~James

  29. Great post! At this stage of my life, I’m not a cruise kind of traveler and now I’m pretty sure I’ll never be. I can’t imagine being stranded out to sea indefinitely as so many have been over the past two months. Fingers crossed that travel regains some sense of normalcy eventually but who knows how long that will take or what that will mean. So much has changed in such a short amount of time. Stay healthy! ~Kelly

    1. Kelly, I don’t know how many ships are stranded at sea, but I can’t imagine the horrific experience the passengers must be going through. I’m sure that no one had really foreseen this cruise ship scenario, but the sad thing is there are difficult decisions to be made on both the ship and shore side, and none of them are easy.

      As to future travel, I agree that whatever the new normal is will be some time coming. I guess the best we can hope for in these trying times is to be healthy and in a safe place to weather the storm. All the best to you and be well. ~James

  30. Oh to have a crystal ball. I do think much of what you say is true. In Canada medical insurance companies were very quick to send out statements saying they will not cover COVID 19. So the truth is that until there is a vaccine, we could not get medical insurance to cover us out of country.When we had to cancel our family Hawaii trip in March I re-booked the accommodations for March 2021. No I’m not even sure that is reasonable.
    I imagine gradually people will venture out but it will take years for tourism to recover. We have never taken a cruise because we felt we couldn’t tolerate being in such enclosed space with so many people.Now we have even stronger feelings about that. I can not imagine that the cruise industry will recover in the short term.
    Thank you for this very thought provoking article. Stay well friends.

    1. Sue, early on we both hoped that things would reach some sort of stability in a few months, but as the virus continues to spread and the infection curves do nothing but point skyward, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to get farther away instead of closer. We rescheduled our S. Africa trip for Sept/Oct because it’s 6 months from now, and it’s a good weather window for the area. However, I give it maybe 30/70 at this point if we make it then. These were very expensive tickets and we hope that we can make it work, but at this point with all the uncertainties, it’s totally out of our hands.

      From reading the comments on our past couple of posts stories like yours and mine are common. But honestly, now that we’ve cancelled the trip we’ve stopped thinking about it and are more concerned that we, our family and friends stay healthy and that we do all we can to prevent any spread. So far, we are both still healthy and have a comfortable place to weather the storm. I guess that’s the best we can hope for. You and Dave take good care and be well. ~James

  31. This is indeed a sad revelation. I absolutely enjoy traveling and have visited many countries over the past decade – its fun and relaxing. (Un)fortunately, many of our family reside abroad, so I’m glad we visited most everyone over the past 18 months – Who knew? Prayerfully over the next 12 months or so, there will be some answers… and traveling (though already painfully restricted and will become even more so), will be “tolerable” as for most of us, it is definitely necessary. Great read and thanks for sharing.

    1. Queen, thanks for your comment and for dropping by the blog. As a doctor, you more than anyone know how quickly this virus spread … and continues to do so. I was interested to see your 12 months number for finding some answers. This pandemic has forced us all into uncharted territory, and at this point, I think that most people see the time frame as open ended. And in the long term, I think that this indefinite date is what will drive people crazy.

      We write a travel blog, so our focus so far has been on the effects on travelers. But I think that travel is going to take a back seat to other issues and the number one priority for everyone will be getting their life back to some level of normalcy. Once this happens, then we will start to think about travel again, in whatever form it takes. In the meantime, take care of yourself and your loved ones and be well. ~James

  32. Good read and interesting ideas. I hope that airlines won’t try to profit from this too much though. Or perhaps people will be wary of traveling in confined places and flight prices will go down in hopes to attract customers back. I’m hoping for the latter, but either way I’m ready for a vacation!

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. You make and interesting point about the airlines reducing prices to entice passengers back. This could certainly happen in the short term, because the airlines have to fly a few flights, and it costs basically the same to fly empty or full; so why not put a few passengers on at low prices. We’ll see. But I must admit, that so far, the US airlines have been pretty reasonable. We have Delta tickets for flights that were cancelled and they just extended the expiration date until 2022. We also have tickets to South Africa on LATAM, a South American airline and we have to use them by year end. Who knows if that will happen? Take care of yourself and stay healthy. ~James

    1. Thanks Ruthie. These predictions aren’t really optimistic, but the bottom line is that travelers were ultimately responsible for the spread, so I have to believe that governments will have a say in what happens to travelers in the future. Take care of yourself and loved ones and be well. ~James

  33. Totally agree with the above analysis. We’ve been travelling full-time now for 6 years and the virus coincided with 3 months in Spain in search for a new, permanent base. We’ve now been in lockdown for over a month in northern Spain.

    Besides airlines and cruise ships, restaurants and bars catering towards tourists and business travellers will suffer for a very long time. I think besides the short term economic toll there’s the psychological toll: people will change their habits. Even when the lockdown is lifted in different parts of the world, I don’t see people rushing to crowded places. And the business world, always ahead of governments, is already adapting to a world where this pandemic (and future waves?) will be the new normal.

    They’ll be some silver linings and we’ve been surprised by many of our readers who seem to be of the opinion that the economic shakedown might end up being a good thing (in terms of travel) in the long run. Unfortunately a lot of people will suffer and as usual it’s always the people who have the least who suffer the most.

    1. I don’t think that many of us realize yet how different travel is going to be in the future. I saw that airport officials in Dubai were giving blood tests to passengers prior to boarding a flight. Blood tests in airports! What’s next? The thing that will make it difficult for travelers is that there will be a patchwork of solutions which will vary from country to country, and it will be up to the traveler to sort out what is required in advance and plan accordingly. And I agree that crowded destinations will probably see a serious decrease in visitors.

      But you make a valid point that a lot of people will suffer in the crisis, and the people who have the least suffer the most. At the end of the day, travel is a luxury for most people, and those that can afford to travel will adjust and get back on the road. It will be a different travel experience and no doubt a “new normal” but as you say, maybe there will be some positives that come out of the crisis. Take care of yourself and be well. ~James

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