Pandemic month 13 is about to end as we watch the vaccines rapidly roll out in many countries across the world. We are now close to 30 percent fully vaccinated, and will soon be ready to travel as countries are beginning to prepare to open and more or less return to some kind of new normal.
There’s talk everywhere of developing corridors of safe travel and in many cases, we see countries opening only to fully vaccinated travelers. And yet… the USA just over a week ago elevated most countries in the world to travel advisory Level 4. Essentially, “Do Not Travel.” So, while the USA is moving faster than every country in the world except Israel to vaccinate its entire “willing” population we are being encouraged to wait and hold. It’s not a bad move. We are nearly there, but there are hot spots and danger areas. Let’s vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated and then open up the borders. And, yes, we see Greece, Croatia and Iceland opening up their borders, albeit with strong caveats, but why not wait a few more weeks. Makes sense.
Our travel machinery is ramping up. Plane schedules are being filled and hotels are starting to take bookings after 1 year of hibernation. There will be a late summer season of travel, and from September we should see our skies full, and our favorite destinations back. Roma…Ci manca!
And what will the return look like? Some things will seem and feel different. Rental cars are scarce, and prices are high. Uber takes longer and is less available. People are reluctant to take public transportation in general. Masks will be a feature, not mandatory, but as in Japan, a feature of everyday life. Restaurants will emphasize outdoor seating and slowly but surely expand their indoor potential. Although, many restaurants we love will not be returning. Casualties of the pandemic months.
Airlines are increasing their flights. But airlines are also more cautious and wary of losing even more money than they have experienced so far. Cheap flights will be available but less so than before. Transatlantic capacity will ramp up and vaccines will almost certainly become the rule rather than a recommendation in many places. Restaurants, airlines, and entry to sporting events and theatres will almost certainly demand a Vaccine ID type passport/card. In Europe it will be a matter of months before they introduce a card showing a vaccination. No card….No entry, No boarding, No go!
Will everything return as if this was a blip on the landscape? Will we be confronted by crowded museums and lines at places like Versailles and St. Peter’s as we phase back to the crazy days of a bygone era? I don’t think it will ever be quite be the same. We will adapt and will do things differently and most importantly we will never take for granted the wonder of a crowded vaporetto in Venice or a pedestrian traffic jam along Oxford Street in London. Maybe we will have become more tolerant and more conscious of the things that drive our economy. Maybe we will be kinder to each other. Do things with a smile rather than a weary look of frustration. Remembering all those lost months of no travel and no business. Locked in and working remote. Zooming to places rather than being there! Good to hold those memories and never forget how grateful we are for busy people racing through those airline terminals, dashing for an Uber or the metro.
The pandemic days will remind us all that we have just lived through something that will change us forever. And honestly, it hopefully will make us better travelers and better ambassadors as we explore new places and touch the tip of possibility once more.
See you out there somewhere.