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How will we travel after COVID-19 recedes? This is one of the biggest questions about the new normal that will emerge once the pandemic is over. Here are the top trends that are set to influence your travels as the world unlocks.

Domestic vs. international travel

Dera Amer Jaipur
Dining with elephants. Image: Courtesy Dera Amer

Domestic travel will see an upswing once leisure trips resume. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, travelling within the country will be seen as better in terms of exposure to coronavirus. Flights and contact with multiple nationalities are unavoidable for international travel, something people will want to stay away from. And let’s not forget the varying COVID-19 norms followed in different countries.

Secondly, the lockdown has turned everyone’s focus towards the #VocalforLocal movement, people will be more inclined towards helping their own country’s economy grow. And as tourism is a major contributor to the same, they’ll look at taking trips within India and not head out for every vacation. These are two potent reasons for a larger portion of travellers to choose domestic trips over international ones.

Hotel stays won’t be the same

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Contactless everything, sanitisation at every step, digitised communication over personal contact, and many more changes will be seen at hotels. Technology will play a big role, hotels will bring on board third party regulators for maintaining hygiene standards, and occupancy capacities as well as entry of non-resident guests will be revisited. We spoke with India’s top hotels for their insights on the same, and you can read more about it here.

Fewer but longer vacations

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Being vary of the disease people are likely to head out much less frequently than before. However, that doesn’t mean that the rejuvenation has to suffer–especially as focus on mental wellness is also an outcome of the lockdown. What that means is that while the number of trips will go down, the duration of each trip will go up. This will happen because it will be safe to stay in the one place which you know is free of the virus, than hop around several destinations and increase the risk that many times. The journey and stop for each destination adds that many checks, anxiety, and possible risk, nullifying the foundation of a holiday, which is to relax.

Workations

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A new take on staycations, work vacations aka workations will be the trend. Until now anyone who’s not employed in an essential services industry has spent a quarter of a year working from home. And as offices won’t be re-opening anytime soon, a change of space will be actioned by taking ‘vacations’ where you work while staying at a hotel. This mix of work and time off will also come about as the pandemic means outdoor activities will be extremely limited–whether due to government bans or personal precautionary measures–hence making this the most plausible, safe break.

Road trips

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Along with domestic travel being preferred, road trips will power through in the post-coronavirus world. The reason is simple, your personal car, bike, or trailer if you’re a group decreases possible exposure to a great extent. Also, it is a way to connect with your fellow traveller in a manner not possible during air, rail, or cruise journeys–something that’s got people’s attention during the lockdown months. And finally, the longer trips mentioned above will provide the time to embark on long distance road trips as well. Hence, a surge is expected.

Flexibility

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Given that coronavirus won’t leave us for a long time to come, it will encourage flexibility in the travel sector. The unsure nature of our times mean that bookings may have to be cancelled or rescheduled at the last moment. And with the whole world going through it together, the airlines, hotels, and everyone involved will simply adhere to accommodating this need of the hour, as that’s the only humane thing to do.

Bye to business travel

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This one was predicted in the initial days of the global lockdowns. As the world has learnt to conduct business through virtual mediums as smoothly as they do in person, the requirement for business travel will go down substantially. The expenditure and more importantly, putting persons at COVID-19 risk will deem work travel as unnecessary unless absolutely essential.

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Megha Uppal
Associate Editor
An innate love for travel and food has translated into many a trips since childhood for Megha; it also fed her curiosity to know about local cultures. When not writing, she is on the lookout for three things: A great dark chocolate dessert, a beautiful pool where she can practice her backstroke, and art that she can save up for.