It’s Ask a Travel Blogger time again, and this time it’s a question I feel people are asking themselves, rather than writing in to obscure blogs and asking their authors. When will travel be back to normal? I have no idea, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of speculation!
What is Normal?
It’s been 18 months since the world was “normal”, and sometimes it feels like we’ll never get back to that point. Travel, for those with the desire and the funds, was as easy and cheap as it had ever been. You could travel for months in places like Latin America and Southeast Asia on way less money than you’d spend on “living” in most western countries, and that freedom to just travel for months at a time was a wonderful thing for those of us lucky enough to experience it.
What is Travel Like Now?
I’ve been stuck in New Zealand throughout this entire pandemic. The isolation of a country like New Zealand aided it in lessening the blow (total deaths have been less than 30 since the start of the pandemic). But, while the rest of the world slowly opens up and travel becomes a thing again, that isolation means it’s almost impossible to travel overseas at the moment (and you’d be taking a managed isolation spot from someone that actually needs it!).
I’m not looking for sympathy at all, as New Zealand has easily been one of the best places to be in 2020 / 2021. It’s just I have no idea what this new normal of travel is like – vaccine passports, masks, that fear that you’ll test positive and have your trip ruined before it even gets off the ground.
Hope for 2022?
The fact I can’t leave and return to my country, and the fact that there are still heaps of restrictions in heaps of countries, means that travel is nowhere normal yet for me and many others. How will we know when travel is truly back though? It’ll be a different answer for everybody, so here’s mine.
I’ll know travel is properly back when I can book a trip to somewhere like Thailand and then travel overland to places like Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. That Southeast Asia tourist trail was my first proper travel experience and it has been a rite of passage for so many people over the last 20-30 years or so especially.
There’ll be packed markets, streets full of people and food. There will be beach parties and boat trips and plenty of new friends and new experiences. Backpacking around Southeast Asia is awesome, and I feel bad for all those people who had their trip cancelled, as well as the locals who relied on that money.
I can’t stand the term “responsible travel”, but it does kinda apply here. For travel to be back to normal, and for us to actually feel good about travelling in places like Cambodia and Laos, it’ll need to be safe. No one wants the locals of these countries dying so they can drink beer Lao by the river.
It’s a balancing act though. We don’t want to endanger the locals, but a lot of those locals rely on tourist dollars. I’ll only be travelling to somewhere like Thailand when it’s clear the benefits of it outweigh the risks. By 2022 (at some point), I reckon that’ll be the case.
So there will still be masks, vaccine passports and many other measures, but as long as that feeling of freedom is mostly retained, and as long as it’s safe, the Southeast Asia backpacking trail could be back up and running in 2022. And once that’s the case, it should mean that most of the rest of the world is back to some degree of normality too. I have no idea about New Zealand though – at this rate we’ll be the last to open-up!
Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!
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