In the aftermath of 9/11, there was a question as to whether people would ever feel safe flying again. After witnessing such a horrible tragedy, would people ever be willing to board an airplane ever again? It felt risky at first, but in time, and with new security measures in place, air travel grew.
Most people adjusted to the new security measures, showing up to the airport early to get through screenings and willing to face the risks.
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced a whole new set of risks, risks that hit the travel industry hard. People are anxious about traveling, and understandably so. People used to hop on a plane to take a relaxing vacation, but how relaxing is it when you’re worried about your health and safety the whole time you’re traveling?
People who love to travel tend to lean toward adventure and crave new environments and a change of pace. While it’s safest to stay home, after more than a year of dealing with masking and social distancing, some people are balancing the risk of planning a trip to London or an Alaskan cruise with the excitement of finally getting back out to experience the world.
Most people in the U.S. have access to the vaccine, and while the country as a whole has yet to reach herd immunity, some privileged areas are getting closer. The new dangers that have become apparent over the past year and a half or so have been met with new safety measures. Cars have seat belts, the Grand Canyon has guardrails at the most popular views, and airlines have mask and vaccine mandates and advanced filtration systems.
The world is starting to reopen, but how different is it going to be?
What can travelers expect?
While the pandemic is still spreading rapidly in some underdeveloped countries, it is largely under control in developed areas. There are many moral problems with this to be sure, but some underdeveloped countries depend on tourism to keep their economies running.
Where will Americans who feel safe to travel want to go? Most may prioritize countries in Europe or Britain where things appear to be a little better controlled, but what will they find when they get there? Are restaurants, museums, and other cultural attractions open/
What about other countries in places like Asia, Latin America, or Africa? Americans willing to venture to these places must make their decision on a country-by-country basis, but this was always the case. Travelers had to consider whether countries were experiencing civil unrest or were friendly to women or LGBTQ people, among many other factors before choosing to travel. Now, they must also consider COVID numbers and vaccination rates. A vaccinated person can regulate trips by avoiding crowded areas, wearing a mask, and spending time outside whenever possible.
While some travel restrictions have eased with the vaccine rollout and falling case numbers, flying may seem a little more normal than people might expect. With the exception of most airlines requiring a mask, getting back onto a plane and seeing the stratosphere feels both familiar and brand new.
Ultimately, traveling is about freedom and liberation. The things that travelers once loved are still there and ready to be experienced again, though nothing is quite the same as it used to be.
Many people travel for fun, but seeing the world is also a life-changing educational experience, especially after spending most of the pandemic sheltering in place or following strict social distancing guidelines. Being stuck in one city, one state, one country was devastating to so many, and people are yearning to go elsewhere.
At the same time, it’s important to welcome people in.
While we’re not quite back to pre-COVID levels of travel and possibilities, it’s getting easier to see the other side and set out into the world with open eyes and a renewed spirit of adventure. We may have to move cautiously at first, but we are far from where we were a year ago. When the pandemic first hit, many people were afraid to venture to the grocery store, and going to the office was forbidden. Now, the whole planet is a possibility again, even if things are just a little different.