As co-founders of TravelHelix, Danielle and I have traveled the world and have helped our clients do the same. But our personal adventure travel in the past will adapt and adjust to this new present in a coronavirus pandemic — and to whatever the future of travel will hold.
In the past, travel was spontaneous. For the most part, our travel was relatively carefree, spontaneous and open-minded. We’ve always been cautious travelers, but we’ve never had everything planned out, minute-by-minute. We’re firm believers in the idea that the most rewarding travel experiences come from the unplanned and unexpected.
Today, future travel involves much more planning. We no longer have the luxury of cavalier, carefree wanderlust. We still won’t have everything planned out, but we will have better contingency plans for unexpected medical emergencies. Before, we may have traveled if we were getting over an illness; now maybe not so quickly.
Before the pandemic, travel was often destination-focused. We’ve always been big fans of shoulder season and off-season travel. A desire to avoid crowds is a big piece of this but also, we truly value leaving a destination having experienced a unique side of it, knowing we’ve viewed it through a different lens than the majority of others who have visited.
Going forward, travel will certainly be destination-centric, but with a different focus. The destination may change to any place that offers mental wellness so we can get our much-needed dose of travel therapy. A mountain. A lake. A forest. It could be a city, but we don’t want to take any unnecessary risks or impose unnecessary risks upon others. For now, we plan on keeping it fairly local, and completely domestic.
For our clients, we are helping people plan travel if they want, but as far as the services we provide, there’s a whole new level of safety diligence involved. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and set an example for our clients. Here are some recommendations we’ve shared with our clients recently:
- Consider a summer of road trips and national parks. Choose a place you can safely social distance. Consider a road less traveled or a less popular destination.
- Choose a state by its response to the pandemic or its approach to reopening travel. In the United States, Maine and Hawaii have recently rolled out state-issued sanctions implementing a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for all individuals arriving or returning to the state. The common underlying theme: protect the local residents. In turn, this should have a positive impact as far as the public health implications for tourists.
- Choose a country based on the same standards. Iceland is welcoming tourists back in June. Anyone arriving in the country will have to take a COVID-19 test, agree to quarantine for two weeks, or present documentation of a clean bill of health from their home country. Their handling of the situation appears to be thoughtful and cautious, which would give us a higher degree of confidence.
- Explore what’s in your own backyard. Now is a great time to become a traveler in your own home area. You can still come back feeling relaxed, refreshed, renewed with a trip to the local lake.
Now more than ever, our actions as travelers matter a great deal. Travel has started to reopen in the United States, and certain international destinations are on the near horizon. Before we’re let loose on the world again, we’re being given the opportunity — the privilege — to test the waters in our own backyard. Let’s not mess it up.
Adam Aronson, co-founder of travelhelix and Global Rescue partner, designs tailor-made travel experiences and helps clients navigate the complexities of trip planning.