Look back at what may seem a lifetime ago to some, to the horrendous day of 9/11. Our world came to a standstill. People were afraid to travel. New regulations were set in motion for our safety. And in time we all adjusted.

Fast forward to our present-day world. Pandemic strikes, and again life as we know it comes to a screeching halt. No leaving our homes, let alone traveling to different countries. COVID-19 has not only infected our bodies, but has infected and affected our way of life. So what impact will it have on future travels? To be honest, I don’t think there is a single soul out their who can say with all certainty what changes we will have to adapt to in order to resume our freedom to explore other nations.

I, like so many others, was forced to push out travel plans in recent months. I had hoped to take a group to the Maldives for some luxurious liveaboard diving this month, and for my husband and I to return to Iceland in June for the Summer Solstice, but countries have not opened their borders yet for those trips to be possible. So I did for myself what I had to do for my clients – I contacted the airlines to request credit vouchers and reached out to my tour companies to push these trips out to 2021.

Now I wait with optimism for my first upcoming domestic trip since the shelter-in-place orders were enacted. No gatherings for fireworks in many places this year for the nation’s birthday, but I hope that 4th of July weekend to travel from San Diego to Salem, Oregon, to visit my stepson’s little family for a some sorely needed R&R with loved ones. Going stir-crazy staying put in SD is an understatement for someone with a travel bug like mine.

So what do we face in future travels in these “New Normal” times? Here are some possibilities…

Doing our best to keep abreast of the ever-changing travel restrictions and immigration rules.

Ours’ is a big world, and health situations are at a different stage for every nation. This leads to a myriad of different travel restrictions. This pandemic is uncharted territory for humanity and deciding what is best for each nation can be daunting. Bit by bit we are seeing travel restrictions ease, but changes are unpredictable. They may be updated monthly, weekly, or even daily. At this time many nations’ borders are still completely closed, while others are beginning to open with restrictions, or at least projecting a future date for foreign visitors to be allowed to travel to their country again.

It is and will continue to be the responsibility of travelers to know exactly what will be required of them to enter a country. Some nations may ban travelers from “infection hotspot” countries all together, or they may enforce a 14-day quarantine upon entry into the country. Others are requiring volunteer testing in order to bypass the required quarantine. Take that one step further, and some countries are looking at requiring a vaccination card or an “infection-free” certificate from a doctor upon entry.

If keeping up with all these different requirements seems baffling to you, I highly suggest you contact your travel agent. They are doing their best for you to keep apprised of the latest requirements.

What is an “Immunity Passport”?

Some governments are looking at introducing what they call “immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” to enable individuals individuals who have recovered from the coronavirus to return to work or travel based on the detection of antibodies in their systems. Such documentation is based on the assumption that antibodies will protect them from a second infection. This is still up for debate.

For those without such documentation, many countries will continue to rely on taking temperatures at security points. Others will require proof of good health from a doctor in your own country, or by their own health organization upon entry into theirs. Even with such a certificate, a number of countries will insist on travelers completing a tracking information document or agree to accepting a tracking app in the possible event they should experience any symptoms during their visit. Taken a step further, and hopefully many countries will not follow suit, Dubai recently carried out blood tests at the airport for passenger screening. Eventually details will be ironed out, and travelers will need to adjust to the “new normal”.

Will PPEs be a traveler’s best friend forever?

By now most everyone has heard the term PPE – Personal Protective Equipment. In short, for travelers, this means carrying with you a face mask, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes for surfaces you may come in contact with. As you have seen from various news outlets, airlines and hotels are really stepping up their game with sanitation practices, but if you still don’t feel comfortable, you’ll have your own personal wipes available for a quick wipe down. In addition, facial coverings are required nearly everywhere in public these days, including airports and airplanes. These requirements are their to remind us to be responsible for our own health and safety, as well as the safety of others. Will these be with us forever? Who knows. But for the time being, that’s a big yes.

What will the future of air travel look like?

Airlines have been hit hard by this pandemic. The majority of their fleet is on moth balls for now, and those flights that are still scheduled are not packed full like days gone by. They are being forced to adjust to the harsh reality that protecting their passengers comes before protecting their bottom line. There are changes in the works for assigned seating – like no booking the middle seat – I know we all won’t miss that. But you will also experience changes to boarding practices – YEAH to boarding from the back to front – as well as food service procedures. Some airlines may even be adopting the practice of you having to ask the flight attendant if you can use the lavatory – welcome back to elementary school.

Like I said before, we all adapted to the changes 9/11 threw at us. How many changes will be coming to our travel routines post-pandemic and be here to stay?

My packing list always includes packing your patience and a good sense of humor. I think we’re really going to need it now.

Travel was never the same after 9/11, but we came to cope with the changes and they just became old habit. Now we are faced with many more unknown changes. Whether is be temperature checks, good health certifications, vaccination records, mandated temporary quarantines, or whatever else governments can throw at us, finding the joy in the journey to that long-awaited destination may be difficult.

Let’s face it, the airlines may be working with travelers right now, but when borders are re-opened and restrictions lifted, only the strongest of airlines will have survived. What does that mean to us? Less competition and higher prices. Who knows when, but the writing is on the wall.

And if you thought the time it took to get through security pre-pandemic was a pain, I don’t see the hassle getting any quicker or easier as new guidelines and restrictions will come to be enacted. When the world opens up again, as a frequent world traveler, if you haven’t already, I highly recommend looking into getting Global Entry or Clear.

With all that being said, don’t let this discourage you. Don’t slam that door on your dreams to travel. A true intrepid traveler will not be put off by these obstacles. We will persevere. We will experience our world. We will view it from many different perspectives. We will learn from our adventures and enrich our souls. And we will do all this with no regrets, no matter the challenges we may face. Travel on.

So while we weather this storm in hopes of return to some sense of normalcy, try to remain positive and keep these words in mind…

Oh! And shameless plug…take the stress out of planning. Rely on the knowledge of your travel specialist to get you there.

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