a man standing on a rock with mountains in the background

Will you settle for food you could have at home, or dive into something more unique when you next go? Will you put the phone down for a night, so you can actually soak it all in? Should I book that “bucket list” trip now, because I now appreciate how fragile and short life can be?

For the first time since the pandemic started, I’m tapping out of physical travels, for a brief pause. In other words, I won’t be going anywhere for a bit. But that’s not entirely what this is about.

In an honest self assessment, I went from not being worried enough in early spring, to a real sense of unease and worry for mankind in late spring; and now find myself in a comfortably vigilant state today, nestled away quietly with my family.

The covid-19 pandemic has shifted the world in orders of magnitude rarely, if ever seen in a lifetime. Still, with safety in mind, I managed to travel safely throughout 2020, taking every precaution before, during and after travel, including obeying a couple 14 day quarantines.

I had essential travel in May from London to New York, I managed to get away to Greece in mid summer, and I reconnected with family and friends in Los Angeles and New York in October, when things *seemed* static, before it all went South, again.

Ugh. Just wear your masks, please.

Really, with few elements aside, those trips felt equally if not more secure than our already very secure home life, particularly in our first year with our newborn. We don’t really “go out”, we haven’t seen many friends, and if we have, it’s been outdoors, with distance.

When traveling, we’ve stayed in private accommodations or in small hotels, with robust covid-19 protocols. Otherwise, we just wouldn’t bother going right now, at all. For food, we typically ate delivery, takeout, or cooked ourselves. Iconic restaurants doing newly inspired take out service is one of the few side joys of the pandemic, even if born out of necessity.

a man standing on a rock with mountains in the background

A Moment Of Pause

But for the first time since the pandemic started, I’m really tapping out of travel, for a brief pause. In other words, I won’t be going anywhere for a bit, nor will my family.

It’s not out of fear, but more because we’re so damn close to a better world, and now that there is real potential to knock this awful nightmare on its head with vaccines, I’m waiting things out a bit, so as to keep my family safe and not add any hassle to health systems.

That does not mean I’ll stop booking future travel though, not even for a second. I booked travel today.

Nor is it passing judgement. That’s just where I am. If you’re not, no worries.

When there was no promise of a vaccine, finding ways to safely navigate an interconnected world despite covid-19 seemed fair enough, and actually important. Safety was always paramount, but the world isn’t about rolling over and giving up. If every precaution was taken, particularly between countries of similar infection rates, travel wouldn’t automatically be any worse than walking around any town.

I found that to be true, and experiencing it reassured me of possibilities in an ever changing world.

In mere weeks, many of the most at risk age groups could be vaccinated in many countries, or well on their way. We can finally start to talk about how to open the world up again by mid spring, and maybe even realize it by summer.

In the beginning of the pandemic, I made around 100 predictions for the future of travel. So far, many have come true. My next prediction isn’t really mine, but I’ll say it anyway. I think travel will be better than ever sometime in the second half of 2021. Is it June or September? Who knows, but each day is a better day.

a city with lights and bridges
Image by Pierre Blaché from Pixabay

Better Days Ahead

People are missing the experience in a big way, but without opportunity being waved in our collective faces every few seconds, there’s been time to reflect on what parts of travel are the most meaningful, purposeful and filled with joy. Even business travelers say they’ll never complain again!

I keep telling airlines there’s a whole new market of customers, People taking fewer trips, but trying to make each one more special than ever. There’s a newly invigorated market looking for something better, and as travel rebounds – which it will – it might not look the same, but it may be better in more ways than one.

Will you settle for food you could have at home, or dive into something more unique when you can next go? Will you put the phone down for a night, so you can actually soak it all in? Should I book that “bucket list” trip now, because I now appreciate how fragile and short life can be?

Whether you book flights, hotels or destination experiences for tomorrow, or this time next year, it all helps move the needle for everyone involved. Over 100,000,000 people are employed worldwide in tourism and travel. That’s a lot of people.

So what do I have booked, and what’s changed? We’ve personally moved all major trips back to a start date of April 2021, and moved as many as possible to the second half of 2021, for September, October and November. I have my eyes firmly planted on reconnecting with Japan in October. We’ll see.

There’s been more amazing deals, and availability to use points than ever, and that makes throwing some faith out there and making some bookings easier I booked my latest trip today, and will continue adding future excitement through travel with every great opportunity.

Does anyone else get such a buzzing feeling of happiness and wellbeing when you start dreaming of future trips you have planned?

In the meantime, I’ll be ordering take out from my favorite local restaurants as much as possible. Some a**hole in the comments will inevitably call me a virtue signaler, or a snowflake, but I take pride and passion in trying to source as many things in my life as humanly possible from people and businesses on a small and local level. It’s the same when I travel. I get my coffee from a place that roast beans close enough I can smell them doing so.

As each age and risk group gets vaccinated, risk factors around this awful, truly tragic plague will drop in meaningful ways. Stigmas of fear will begin to go with them, and we can start to look at a better world once again.

It’s not far, it won’t be long, and I really feel that now is the time to take one more last deep breath, have a good pause and plan for 2021 being a year of hope.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I am really sorry, but I just can’t see 2021 being even a bit better than 2020. Especially with everything going on in the UK right now. Would love to be proven wrong though…

    1. No one has a crystal ball, but the new strain is not a game changer in the UK. Brexit, other things may be.

      Just like all the other “new strains” which have popped up, the UK strain problems aren’t really long term problems. There’s a more contagious, but not more deadly strain of the virus. In history, all viruses morph, and typically become more contagious, and less deadly. Historically, that’s always been true.

      This strain will be a temporary problem, and as people are vaccinated, less of a concern at all. We don’t stop the world for the common cold because people don’t die in the historic numbers of covid. If we are able to (through better treatment, vaccine, distancing measures) able to make this awful thing as deadly as the cold, and nothing more, we will see better days. With critical mass vaccination numbers expected by mid year… there’s hope for Q3/Q4 2021.

      1. If only everyone else, and the media, had this attitude and common sense. New strain of a virus isn’t news. More contagious = less virulence. It’s not a headline. It’s all become such a farce, more so as the fatality of covid has been shown to be akin to the common cold. Truly ridiculous. Don’t know how we got to this point.

  2. I think you are correct, Gilbert.
    Living in Tier 4 of the UK, my trip with my husband, who is 88, to see his family in Chile and spend some summer sun time at the end of January is almost certainly off. But I have FTVs for Qatar Airways which I hope to use for our cancelled Autumn trip to Thailand next Autumn (maybe even in QSuites?). And I have already booked a reasonably priced First Class trip with BA next May to San Francisco to explore northern California and Oregon. The rearranged Chile trip maybe in September as the country emerges into Spring.
    And, of course, in the next few weeks I hope my husband will be called for his vaccine. I have to wait a bit longer as I am a little younger.
    Meanwhile, this year we have revisited parts of the south of the UK and enjoyed the autumn colours. Using hotels that gave us Covid security.
    Hope you and your family enjoy a Happy Christmas.
    And thanks for everything this year.

    1. Robert, Just wonderful! Thank you. The same to you and your family. It sounds like a great variety of meaningful trips for 2021, and I hope you’re able to realize them all as you hope. To a better year!

  3. Well if you are a snowflake then so am I. My wife and I are quite a bit older than you but we have tried to be very careful. Always masks on when going out to the store or to pickup takeout. Yes we have taken 2 trips by plane in Oct and Nov but wiped everything down and wore our masks. We even stayed in a hotel on one of the trips.

    I’m hoping that we might be a little higher up in the vaccine distribution based on age and some additional health risks. That might allow us to travel in Feb/Mar but fully prepared that might not happen. Otherwise next big trip planned is end of May to No. Calif and wine country (had to cancel the trip in April 2020).

    Stay safe and healthy and keep up the writing.

  4. Hi! Do you know if there have been any updates on the European travel ban? We’re desperately waiting for a loved one to be able to come back to the US- any glimmer of hope would be appreciated- thank you 😊

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