One Year to Pandemic: What Changed & What Not in Travel

by Riya Bagaria
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A milestone has been reached on what was supposed to be only a fifteen-day stint; the pandemic has grown a year older. Though, I strongly hope there are no more surprises. Admittedly, the last year did leave everyone shocked, squandering and hassled. It brought about a myriad of changes and called for stringent adaptation. A totally new way of living and working was introduced, paving the way for new norms and rules. Though, agreeably, travel seemed to have taken the most hit. 

While ways to work were found and video calls were routine, travel had abruptly and completely come to a stand still. Borders were shut, strict restrictions were a part of everyday, and unrestricted travel seemed like a distant dream, still does to a certain extent. In lieu of safety, cancelled trips and crestfallen faces followed. Not only was international and domestic travel affected, but also the local pubs and restaurants remained shut. 

However, what kept everyone going was the sheer optimism, anticipation and the hope that travel soon will resume like everything else. And it has, well, as much as it can given the current situation. Though, spontaneous trips will have to wait, careful planning of all trips will ensue and keeping up with all the restrictions and rules will be an absolute necessity. However, the pandemic has left behind it’s crumbs which will forever change the way we vacation. Although, not the most comfortable, the remnants of the pandemic have allowed positive changes to come in. Now, as we look back, here is how travel has changed in the past year. 

Spike in Road Travel 

With restrictions in international air travel and domestic travel as well, a huge increase in road trips has been seen. Not only are people opting to take road trips to nearby hill-stations and scenic locations, but also everyone is opting to travel state-to-state by road. Simply taking the car and going away seems much easier than choosing to travel by trains and air. A sudden realisation has dawned that road travel is just as much fun, convenient and much more feasible! Unexplored routes and unbelievable views are taking over. With working from home a norm and seldom getting out, a quick one-night away or even one-day change of scenery works wonders. Packing light, and just revving up the engine for a break is becoming a new normal. Afterall, it is about the journey.

Unexplored Small Towns Come to Spotlight

Driving through the undiscovered routes, there are also a plethora of small towns being discovered and visited that would otherwise not even be a part of the trip. The usual, touristy destinations have taken a backseat, not only because of the throngs of crowds it would host but also because of the need to explore something apart from the usual. The pandemic has definitely paved the way for a new way of travelling, involving a little less of the quintessential spots and more of the unusual and unchartered territories. 

Ditching Itineraries and Enjoying The Experience 

The pandemic has also welcomed slow tourism with open arms. The bucket lists, detailed itineraries and jumping from one stop to another are no longer a part of the checklist. While trips are still being planned carefully in lieu of the respective guidelines and rules, the focus is now on actually experiencing the destination, actually soaking in it’s feel, and thoroughly enjoying the time away instead of snapping and posing in front of everything. The pandemic has made a lot of us value travelling, leading to a shift in the way we journey through these locations. Travel has now become more of a want than a need to check off places from a list.

Spurt in Demand For Villa Rentals

The pandemic has brought to light the necessity for sanitisation and hygiene. Private spaces are preferred over hotels. The aim is to minimize interaction as much as possible to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Hence, guests are choosing to stay in their private bubble, in villas that not only ensure privacy but also safety. The private spaces with just as many amenities are becoming increasingly popular. Guests are choosing to stay in sprawling spaces, with their own private pools, lawns, home theatres and even work stations. The villa rental market has garnered a huge increase that is definitely here to stay.

The Company of Near and Dear Ones

Travelling in large groups has become a rarity. Given the current situation, guests are preferring to holiday with a small group of friends, family or opting to travel solo. The extensive vacations with over 20 people are simply not feasible right now and will certainly not be seen for a while. Not only is it not recommended right now, but also there is a realisation that journeying in the company of a small group of people can be just as much fun. A more lowkey, solemn way of travelling is being introduced, that is here to stay. 

The pandemic has definitely left the travel industry in a pickle, however, as it slowly resumes, it certainly won’t be the same. The changes in the way of travelling are here to stay and in a good way. 

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