Post pandemic travel will look different than ever before

The travel industry is huge in the U.S., usually supporting 15.8 million jobs for Americans. However, the pandemic has changed the industry in many ways. As a result, even after COVID-19 is no longer a threat, Americans will continue to implement the habits and lessons they have learned when they travel.

In the summer of 2020, 97% of trips were road trips as opposed to other modes of transportation. People saw it as a safer option than air travel. This trend will definitely continue until all mask mandates are lifted because people will not want to have to wear masks for a long flight. Doctor Fauci indicated it was possible Americans would still have to wear masks into 2022.

Additionally, people will not be comfortable in small spaces with a large group of people for a long period of time post-pandemic. Looking at the example of the Spanish Flu in the U.S. in 1918, there were relatively no lasting effects. However, due to the unlimited access we have today to news and data, getting over our fears will be harder, according to Professor Peter Stearns of George Mason University. This development means that domestic travel will be more common as opposed to international travel, even when international travel is allowed without restrictions.

While the traditional view of a vacation is to relax, after spending way too much time at home doing nothing, this view will change.

“I predict a shift towards experience-driven travel. People have been in their homes for months so 2021 will leave them wanting to discover new places, cultures, cuisines, landscapes, activities and reconnecting with nature,” explains Rebecca Masri, founder of travel company Little Emperors.

Whether it be hiking, surfing, amusement parks or sightseeing, people’s trips will be more active and adventurous than before the pandemic.

One habit that people formed during the pandemic was last minute planning. Rules and restrictions always changed coupled with the nightmare that was flight and reservation cancelations. This leads me to think people will be much less likely to plan their trips in advance.

Last minute plans are not the only thing that people have begun doing in 2020. Supporting local businesses became a trend on Youtube as well with influencers such as Hannah Meloche and LaurDIY recommending small businesses to support. 

Shopping and dining are two of the biggest reasons why people travel, and I predict that people will be much more conscious of supporting local places when traveling post-pandemic.

Business travel makes up about 30% of travel spending in the U.S., according to the U.S. Travel Association. I believe that this will take the biggest hit in the coming years even after COVID-19 is no longer a concern for the public.

Prior to the pandemic, 20% of Americans worked from home, but after COVID-19 hit, it rose to 70%. While this was hard for many, there were others who realized that their work could be done from home permanently. People enjoy the added benefits of working from home such as not having to wait in traffic and getting a little extra sleep in the morning. In fact, over half of those who work from home stated that they want to continue to do so after the pandemic ends. 

I believe this phenomenon will transfer over to business travel as well. After all, if an employee doesn’t need to go to the office to work, why would they need to travel to work?

Additionally, everyone from elementary schoolers to grandparents to big businesses have learned to use Zoom or another form of video conferencing. Travel may not be necessary for meetings.

COVID-19 has taught us many lessons and instilled many habits in us. These will continue to impact our traveling decisions for years to come, and some of which will forever change the industry.