Ready Your Bags
By Preston Young, MBA
While I’m sure most of us are tired of hearing the C word that shut the world down for months, it is interesting to see how the pandemic has changed the way we live, think, and operate on a day-to-day basis. It seems like it came all at once, the news of the pandemic stunned the world and the unprecedented impact trickled down through each level of society. The economy came to a screeching halt after a decade long of an economic hot streak. The outlook for the future became a gloomy grey and we were left with more questions than answers. As we now know, this was unlike anything we have seen before, a worldwide halt on the global economy that relied so heavily on growth, consumption and the point of this blog, travel. The travel industry was the first to go as countries around the world demanded a stay-at-home order and declined entry of all incoming travelers.
Ironically, in January of 2021, I was living out my inner child at Disney World. It was at this time the World Health Organization announced a “mysterious coronavirus related pneumonia” was circulating in Wuhan, China. At this time, no one knew the long impact the virus would have on us, and we definitely didn’t know we would be wearing masks, working from home, and unable to travel for the next several months and even years. During the next several months of being in lockdown, we saw kitchens being redone, additions being added, decks being built, and anything else people have been pushing off for years prior. While many people were then able to enjoy their home and the new things they have built, we all missed traveling.
During 2022, it has been beautiful to see family get togethers, people at restaurants, bars, concerts, and my favorite, you guys back in our office. Staying in my house, unable to go to school, see friends, family, loved ones and unable to travel and do the things I wanted to do in my early 20’s really changed my outlook and perception on travel. Just like everyone else, I took on many hobbies during my time in lockdown. While this may not be considered a hobby, I spent countless hours watching Youtube videos about international travel and interesting places to see. While I have only visited a few other countries, I am fascinated by the difference in how people live. Everything between how their houses are built, what they eat, how they spend their free time, the weather, their currency, how they dress, talk, and so on just fascinates me and really gives me that itch to see and travel as much as possible. Having conversations with family, friends and clients about beautiful, must-see places is intriguing to me. Seeing eyes widen as they vividly remember their favorite vacation spot and then proceed to show me photos and videos is awesome and something I missed during our time in lockdown.
My outlook on travel has changed since before we were locked down. Beforehand, I didn’t think there would ever be something that would be able to stop me from seeing what I wanted to see and going where I wanted to go – other than money (money returns, time doesn’t). But life is short and in the blink of an eye, all plans can come to a screeching stop as we saw in 2020. Unfortunately, we saw many deaths due to covid, many hospitalizations and long-term illnesses. My grandparents who before the pandemic were very outgoing and travel enthusiasts, now much slower due to being three years older and unable to do a lot of the things they were able to do beforehand. My point being, take that vacation. See what you want to see. Life is short and you never know when it may be too late.
According to oncallinternational, Travel agencies around the world are reporting an increase in travel reservations that are longer than usual and in luxury hotels. There has also been an increase in the purchase of first-class airline tickets and cruise ship travelers are booking more smaller cruise lines which carry fewer people and make fewer port calls. And according to a recent survey, people have a larger desire to explore new cultures and try new cuisines in 2022. While traveling in 2022 and 2023 may require more flexibility, research and planning due to covid restrictions, testing, document uploading and whatever else is required, the outlook is much more positive than it has been the past two years and it is wonderful we are now starting to see an uptick in family gatherings, social events, and travel. More next time on the beautiful cruise Rachel and I departed on last week!