My last post was about traveling with kindness. If you missed it, find it here. I’d love you to have a read.
Thinking about how the Covid -19 crisis would change the travel industry inspired that post. Every aspect of our lives has been affected. The world stopped and we isolated. The travel industry, dependent on movement , has taken a particularly hard hit.
It’s going to take kindness, patience and commitment from consumers to allow the industry to heal.
Having the ability to travel taken away has been a humbling and thought provoking experience. I’ve never had my freedom restricted. I’ve always taken it for granted that, time and budget allowing, I could go anywhere.
This belief was very liberating, but it made me take things for granted. Maybe, it diluted the experience a bit, without me even knowing. ‘Fast Travel’ crept in.
It’s not the consumers fault that fast travel has found a place, though. It’s a natural side effect of being so able to travel.
Once upon a time, travel was really just for the bold and adventurous. Then the preserve of the wealthy. A boom in the aviation industry and cheap package deals made foreign holidays more desirable and more accessible. And then came low cost airlines, internet bookings, price comparison sites, Air BnB.
It all got easier, cheaper, faster. We were able to travel more and had to think about it less.
Social media, that brilliant tool for research and connection, is a double edged sword. Sometimes, it feels like travel has become a form of performance.
Get to a desirable destination, get the right/best/most FOMO inspiring shot and get home again. To search for the best deal on the next trip. Travel can be fast and cheap, but that can cheapen the experience.
And someone, somewhere pays the price. Every. Time.
Fast travel is the industry equivalent of fast fashion, I suppose. Inexpensive, quick turn around, must look good and churn out a constant stream of new ideas and inspiration. In order for that to be possible, there’s a price to pay.
It’s a diluted experience for the traveller. It’s lower wages within the industry. It’s faster turnarounds leading to cut corners and endless attempts to separate the traveller from their money at airports, onboard the ferries and the flights.
It all starts before you even get where your going.
So. Having had my little rant on that, you might be wondering how this fits with here and now.
Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about post Covid travel lately. When I’ll feel safe , how far I’ll go and what it will it look like. There’ll be big changes. It just can’t be as intense or as speedy as it was.
It’s going to involve hitting the reset button. A perfect opportunity to rethink how we do things.
Possibly one of the biggest changes is going to be forged from the fact that people aren’t so happy to move in crowds anymore. Game changer. Practically, it might mean being a little more patient.
Longer waits and less capacity across the board. But, maybe it will also mean people seeking out different destinations, or looking at old favourites in a new light.
Take Edinburgh as an example. When I lived there, you could barely get past the Grey Friars Bobby statue for visitors wanting to rub his nose and grab a selfie. The pavement, and even the road would be thronging with people jostling for their time and their space.
If tourists are wary of this kind of situation now, maybe they’ll still travel, but push out into different areas of the city. Take their footfall and their spending power beyond the honeypot city centre.
Edinburgh’s suburbs are full of little gems and independent businesses and the nearby coastline is beautiful. Dispersing would be no bad thing.
Likewise in airports and rail stations and so on. The whole experience has become increasingly commercialised. The airport, for example. Take Newcastle Airport. You used to be able to visit the landside of the airport. Use the cafe and viewing terrace to see the planes coming and going. Facilities were pretty limited, even airside. Somewhere to eat, toilets, duty free.
Somewhere along the way the commercial aspect took over. Now you walk through a shopping mall to get from security to the gates, the eateries are expensive franchises, there’s beauty counters, nail bars and even a champagne bar.
It’s busy, its expensive and its all about packing people in to get money out of them.
It’s different now. No one wants to sit inches from a stranger at the champagne bar or share Duty Free samples handled by hundreds of others.
Imagine if the industry could circle back just a little bit to serving passengers needs and embracing the joy of travel?
I know we can’t go back to more wholesome ( i.e, less profitable) times, but we could come out of this a bit more mindful.
The tide is beginning to turn on fast fashion. Consumers are asking more questions about where their money goes and where the product comes from. I hope the travel industry will see the same shift.
I’ve nothing against the idea of an all inclusive, fly-and-flop holiday if that’s your bag. But it costs the local economy who see precious little of the tourist income. Local guides, artisans, suppliers who are kept firmly in place by big business.
Even those who find employment within the industry are at the mercy of seasonality and low wages ( Often young people and women taking up the undervalued, low paid work. But that’s another rant, for another day).
We’re all being forced to think carefully about how we travel , now is a good time to embrace Slow Travel. When we start again, lets make it normal to ask questions of the companies we use. To not always stick to the plan. To be open. And to feel proud that making travel fun and accessible for us isn’t reducing the experience or shifting the cost onto someone else.
Goodbye, fast travel.
If you enjoyed this post you might also like 5 Ways to Travel with Kindness and Edinburgh: A Tale of Two Tails.
Those are my thoughts, I’d love to hear yours. Let’s have a conversation in the comments.
Interesting thoughts. I do wonder what things will look like once travel resumes. I don’t think I will be going anywhere internationally until perhaps spring 2021 though.
Thank you, it’s difficult to imagine isn’t it? I think I’ll stay close to home for a while yet. I agree, I think it will be into next year before we see any real movement in international travel.
Great post 😁
What a great post! I’ve been having similar thoughts myself recently. In fact, I’ve been wondering about the whole concept of slow travel for some time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been as ‘guilty’ as anyone else for hopping off for a long weekend/short break to various European cities. We’re lucky enough to have a home in SW France, where we spend a considerable amount of time. Although we’ll spend two days driving down there, I do hop on a plane from Toulouse to come back and see friends and family. Will definitely be reconsidering in the near future! Did you see the programme ‘Race Across the World’? The whole premise involved NOT travelling by plane and travellers relying much more on the kindness of strangers. It will certainly be interesting to see how travel evolves in the future but, at the moment, it all seems quite scary…
It is a scary time at the moment, isn’t it? I keep going from the idea I can’t wait to travel again to feeling like I’d better wait. Things won’t be the same , that’s for sure. Yes I liked Race Across The World, I loved that it took travel back to teamwork and connection. Real adventuring!
I very much enjoy your writing style Helen. It’s certainly going to be a fine balance for the travel industry to tread, creating a safe environment without diluting the experience yet still remaining profitable. I’m hopeful we’ll get away this summer but still waiting to see what transpires. After all this lovely weather it’s such a shame we’ve been holed up indoors most of the weekend. M x
Thank you so much, what a lovely compliment!
Beautifully written and I agree with everything you said!
Thank you so much!
Sorry to trouble you but I’m just wondering if my last comment may have ended up in your Spam folder?!
No trouble at all! I’ve found your comment and approved it, I’ve no idea why I didn’t get a notification that you’d commented. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, and for letting me know I’d missed it. Really, really appreciated!
Thank you! I enjoyed your post so much that I wanted to let you know. With my blog, I’ve found comments amongst the spam that really shouldn’t be there. Maybe it’s a WordPress thing?!
It really is uncharted territory for us. I’m interested in seeing how travel will change and how it will be implemented. No travel planned for me until at least mid 2021.
I think I will be reluctantly sticking with shorter, domestic trips until 2021. It’s hard to know how things will be or what course of action is best, but it’s better to be cautious! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, always appreciated!
We’d already started to re-think our relationship with travel, pre-Covid. Flying, for all sorts of reasons, had become a no-no. Unfortunately, train travel on the whole is more expensive – but also less stressful, more rewarding. We’ve pretty much stopped going to Must Visit destinations too. i guess the crowds will for a long time be a thing of the past, but even so, many places that are far less on the radar often have a great deal to offer. I’m so pleased to have discovered your blog – largely through your having visited mine – thanks.
Yes, travel is a tricky business now. We fell out of love with flying a few years ago and have mainly used trains or made road trips. I don’t know what the future holds but I think I’ll be taking it slow and staying fairly close to home for a while. Thank you for your kind words and for being part of my blog.
This year will have a lasting impact. I think a lot of us are learning to slow travel, learning to appreciate the small joys around us and soak them up wholeheartedly. 🤗 🔆
Absolutely! It’s definitely made me look at things differently. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, always appreciated.
You’re welcome 🔆