Restrictions on travel during a global lockdown are causing us to write endless bucket lists even though the potential to travel remains precarious.
The holiday thirst is real, with nearly a third of the UK prioritising a getaway as their first action after restrictions have been ended.
According to the survey Post-Lockdown Plans, 31% of the UK are preparing for a trip after lockdown while nearly a quarter has earmarked their savings to go on a break.
But the experience of going on holiday will be markedly different as travellers can expect more bureaucracy, sanitation procedures and a change in prices.
From 8 June, arrivals into the UK (except forthose from France) will be expected to quarantine for 14 days. There will be more border checks and passengers will be expected to fill in locator forms in case they’ve come into contact with anyone with the virus.
Failure to complete the form will result in a £1,000 fixed penalty notice in England or potential prosecution and an unlimited fine.
These are not the kind of punitive measure we imagined for travel in life pre-lockdown. But it is set to be our new normal, with many other changes coming our way.
Though it might go against the travel that we had grown accustomed to, the hiatus may be better for both our bank accounts and environments.
Where do Brits want to travel?
Spain, America, Greece, and France also proving to be popular destinations for hopeful holidaymakers.
Unfortunately for Asian countries, the least popular selections are in the far east, which seems to suggest people are uncomfortable with travelling to China or neighbouring countries, largely associating it with coronavirus.
These sorts of apprehensions are bound to impact Chinese tourism and the travel industry in general, at a time where many people are reluctant to even leave the country before a vaccine is introduced.
Most popular holiday destinations after lockdown:
1. UK (staycation)
Singapore is the least popular destination with only 0.8% of Brits intending on travelling there after lockdown, followed by Vietnam with only 0.9% planning to visit after lockdown with Bali, Germany and Mexico at 1.1%.
The restrictions on flying mean the UK holiday market is set for a boom, with more than one in 10 Brits saying they will go on a staycation in the coming months.
This is welcome news, considering air travel is already the sixth biggest carbon polluter in the world.
It’s not just the flights. Airports themselves, and the journeys to them, are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants, noise pollution, water demand, and waste.
The move to closeby holiday spots should counteract some of the environmental damage done by the air economy.
How has coronavirus affected the airline industry?
The changes caused by the virus will make travel less smooth – signaling the end of the ‘easyJet generation’ mentality where we think it’s no big deal to jet off to anywhere at a moment’s notice.
The thirst for travel is partly owing to the way it is romanticised in popular culture as well as how easy and cheap it has been in the past.
Before the pandemic, it was expected that by 2035, millennials will account for the highest share in airline expenditure meaning travel is a top priority for many.
The airline itself capitalised on its popularity in an advert celebrating the easyJet generation, aimed at millennials to show how easy it is to use their services.
But the new provisions may change all that.
The additions will be part of our new normal as the aviation industry attempts to recover from all the cash it’s been haemorrhaging since lockdown began.
Figures from the International Air Traffic Association revealed in April that airlines are collectively losing cash at £400,000 per minute.
In the time it would usually a British Airways flight to reach LA from London, the world’s airlines will have lost a quarter of a billion pounds.
But some airlines will soon begin operating and, in an attempt to make some money, not least because they still have to pay aircraft leases, will be offering discounted flights and offers (initially, at least).
When are we allowed to start flying again?
BA is set to resume flights in July and easyJet expects to start trading from 15 June but you can expect a whole new system.
A spokesperson for easyJet said that flights will principally be scheduled for domestic routes, alongside a minimal number of internationals.
Changes include enhanced aircraft disinfection; customers, cabin and ground crew being required to wear masks, there will also be no food service onboard flights.
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet tells us: ‘These are small and carefully planned steps that we are taking to resume operations.
‘We will continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe so that when more restrictions are lifted the schedule will continue to build over time to match demand while also ensuring we are operating efficiently and on routes that our customers want to fly.’
What will the airport experience be like?
Airports have suffered from global restrictions but having stayed open throughout the pandemic, feel equipped to handle the gradual restart of operations.
A spokesperson for Gatwick tells us: ‘We are currently developing a range of social distancing, hygiene and even technological solutions to help keep each other safe while travelling through Gatwick.’
Heathrow, the biggest airport in the UK, also has similar changes in place.
Thermal screening trials have launched as part of a wider set of processes and technology set to be trialled.
Heathrow staff are now wearing face masks and will be offering coverings to any arriving and departing passengers who don’t have their own.
There are also more than 600 hand sanitiser stations, signage featuring government health advice, perspex barriers for frontline contact points, and social distancing reminders.
A spokesperson said: ‘Heathrow is preparing to get the economy and country flying confidently again once restrictions are lifted. We’re developing new trials and processes to ensure passengers are protected against the threat of covid-19.
‘We also support the creation of “air bridges” between nations which will see free movement between low-risk countries.
‘If it works for Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand – the UK government must develop a similar plan to protect our country and reboot our economy.’
Will flights be cheaper?
The travel industry will try to lure its customers back in with enticing offers at first but it’s likely that prices will increase after the initial burst.
Many airlines such as Delta will be operating at 60% capacity to accommodate social distancing but for carriers to make profit, they need to fill 75-80% of seats.
But travel providers know hiked prices are unappealing to the public and are working on developing technology to speed up the process of returning the travel economy.
Emirates Airlines, for example, became the first airline to offer on-site testing before departure (with results reported to arrive in 10 minutes).
Jack Sheldon who offers a newsletter, Jack’s Flight Club, with discounted offers available said that there will be a mixed bag of opportunities available when things resume.
He says: ‘Some airlines (easyJet, Cathay Pacific, etc) have been showing amazing discounts to try and grab bookings, even if that means selling them at rarely seen low prices, while others (British Airways, Ryanair, etc) are instead keeping fares quite high and are avoiding any sales until there is more certainty in the market.
‘I imagine they plan to capitalise on the built up rush in tourism once the travel restrictions are lifted.
‘The good news is we expect to see all the sales airlines have been holding off on to be announced as they will be desperate to get some cash flow to bring their staff back to work.’
Jack reckons as airlines compete one another for more passengers, more enticing promotions will be up for grabs.
At the moment his newsletter is focusing on trips towards the end of the year and with airlines that offer flexible booking.
What personal new changes can we expect to see?
In a recent report, The International Air Transportation Association suggested that passengers submit medical forms as they would passport information.
The report also proposes flyers print their luggage labels at home and drop it off to limit the number of people coming into contact with their belongings.
Hong Kong International Airport has also started trialling a disinfection booth which is said to kill all microbes, including coronavirus, in 40 seconds.
You may see a number of changes, depending on where you’re travelling from, the route you’re taking, and the mode of transport (cruise ships are currently suspended).
How are people coping with travel restrictions?
For avid travellers, the lockdown has meant a lot of sacrifices, especially for those who’ve made a business of it.
Dad Eric Stoen who’s been voted one of the top four influential travellers in the world by Forbes has had to cancel several global plans with his family which he usually blogs about.
Though they were expecting to fly to Nicaragua, Germany, Italy and Turkey from March, the family is learning to enjoy sightseeing around their home instead.
‘We took a quick trip to Colorado, but from March 10 onward we have not traveled anywhere,’ says Eric. ‘We have had a soft lockdown in our small California town. We have walked and hiked a lot and left the house to pick up some meals (to support local restaurants).
‘Farmer’s markets have remained open. Things seem to be getting back to normal now, but with distancing and masks.
‘We have gotten used to wearing masks and washing our hands a lot.
‘Given that most countries still have their borders closed, we’re not looking to fly anywhere before August.’
Nicky Kelvin, who works at travel website The Points Guy, says things will be different for a long time.
‘Travel probably won’t look the same,’ says Nicky. ‘We’re entering a new normal. From how we book, where and why we travel, our seat selections on the plane, and what financial and safety risks we’re willing to assume, we’ll emerge from this worldwide crisis different travellers than before the pandemic began.
He says we should expect to see a surge in travel closer to home. Staycations, national parks, and beaches near home will become even more popular.
But he argues the new normal might be a good way for us to learn more about other cultures.
‘If you can’t eat street food in Bangkok or tapas in Spain, you can do your best to cook international dishes at home,’ says Nicky. ‘You may have to order ingredients online, of course, but once you have them, you can test your luck in the kitchen. It may be a perfect time to order that crockpot or instant pot too.’
In some ways, the coronavirus pandemic has been a bit of an equaliser, bringing nature back in ways we haven’t seen for years and allowing us to enjoy local greenery.
Though there is certainly an eagerness to take to the skies again, the new system of moving, along with the possible health risks, may not be appealing to many people.
So while we wait for a solution that enables smoother transportation again, we would do well to remember the lessons of the pandemic; that one doesn’t need to travel all the way to Japan and India to find themselves.
It can happen in your back garden.
What Comes Next?
After months of strict lockdown measures, isolation and anxiety – we’re beginning to look to the future.
What will life look like when we emerge into our new normal?
Can things ever be the same as they were? Do we even want them to be the same?
What Comes Next is our series of in-depth features unpicking the possibilities for the future.
Every day for two weeks, we will look at the future of work, dating, mental health, friendships, money, travel, and all the other elements that make up our existence.
Our lives have been turned upside down, but change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.