As the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to reach its death apex, economic and political climaxes are further out. And what it means to the travel scene — well, that remains to be seen. It’s tough to stay optimistic.
I suspect a lot will change – not just for travel. I hold out hope the changes will be, mostly, for the better.
COVID-19 waiting game
How bad will the coronavirus disease get? Will trade and travel rules change? What about power vacuums appear? So far at least one world leader grabbed “decree” power. What other “leader” might try to take advantage of this pandemic?
Will there be another New World Order? Resource wars and panic hoarding? Exports ending? Wealth redistribution?
What about a second wave of sickness?
Too doomsday-ish? Maybe, maybe not.
Americans can hardly think about the world outside their pantries or local streets – let alone outside our country.
Did anyone back home notice what the hell happened in Wisconsin?
The long lines to vote were thanks in part to a massive power grab several years ago. Now, throw in the current global pandemic, and thousands of voters risking their lives is just another day’s news — in one ear and out the other. Tough to protest democracy’s death – or even care – when you’re worried about survival: food, rent, mortgages, car payments.
Under a travel lens, what of the actual travel details? Airline prices and routes? Visa requirements? U.S. passport renewal processes? U.S. State Department services?
Will Americans be as eagerly accepted into foreign lands in the future?
I’ve read many articles over the last week that say, ‘Don’t worry – the travel industry will bounce back, just fine.’ Experts are optimistic about a return to how things were.
This does a disservice to the public. These “experts” are in denial about what’s coming, and acceptance – though sometimes startling – is always the answer.
Neverminding the ‘experts’. The industry is reducing capacity up to 90% through the summer, because there isn’t any demand for travel.
The German airline company Lufthansa predicts it will take years to recover – not just through the summer, or through this year.
Just like after 9/11, when I now hear a plane in the sky, it sounds strange. It’s never a commercial jet anymore. It’s always a small, private plane in the skies around us.
Right now – as of this writing – Pew Research says 7.2 billion people on this planet live in countries with restrictions on travelers. “Roughly 3 billion people, or 39%, live in countries with borders completely closed to noncitizens and nonresidents,” Pew’s analysis states.
That blows my mind. Never in my lifetime have so many borders been closed between so many souls on Earth.
What will happen when the borders open?
Lifting lockdowns and mobility restrictions in countries all over Earth will be another new experience for all of us. I imagine it might feel joyous. Like the end of a world war when people were finally free to roam and swap survival stories. Camaraderie through our common human condition.
But will that cause a new wave of this virus? In the eagerness people have to return to “normal” – they are neglecting to consider any “new” normal that will benefit themselves, others, and the planet.
COVID-19 waiting game: Tentative plans
For now, we are content to be here in the Philippines at our temporary home. And we have enjoyed much of this country since November 2019 when we first arrived. We’d like to see more of it, too, once restrictions and community quarantines are lifted. Until then, we follow the rules.
Like so many travel lovers, our plans for the rest of 2020 are up in the air. In fact, we hardly dare talk about “where to” next. Not yet, anyway.
I have been checking airfare, just to see what’s offered from here to there. But where is better than here? If we had to, or if we decide to, under current rules, we could stay in the Philippines for up to three years without a border jump or visa run. Of course, as early retired budget world travelers, we’d rather be on the move.
So where does that leave us? A place called Limbo.
Hope for travel
I still have hope for travel as a way for us to learn and grow. Societies have separated people in the past. Travel breaches borders for growth.
A link to an essay by traveler and entrepreneur Arthur Frommer’s “How Travel Changed My Life” was in my Twitter feed recently, buried in all the bad news.
“In these days of national emergency,” Frommer writes in his forward, “it may be appropriate to note the ways in which the eventual resumption of travel will again enlarge our lives. And surely, that resumption will occur.”
His essay gave me hope that, indeed, surely travel will resume… even if it looks different than before. Even if it takes longer than I would like. I keep resumption hope alive I still have a lot more to learn, and my heart is still set with Tedly and travel.
Thanks for reading “COVID-19 waiting game for travelers.”
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