Staycation or vacation? What exactly is the new travel normal?

Don’t judge me but it’s time to confess I find the current shake-up in the travel industry interesting. It is no surprise this year’s vacation has been replaced to a large degree by the staycation.

Whether we have chosen to holiday from home and enjoy our local spaces, limit our travel to the UK or risk quarantine to leave the country, there can be no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the way we all think about our travel and holidays.

The figures are still presenting themselves but make interesting reading. IPS (International Passenger Survey) data collection was suspended on March 16th 2020 so overall comparisons with 2019 are tricky but there are a few nuggets of information out there.

  1. Demand for flights in April 2020 was 94.3% less than April 2019
  2. 49% of people in the UK aren’t planning to go on holiday at all in 2020
  3. In June/July 46% of people in the UK said they would feel unsafe travelling by plane this compares with 54% for rail travel and 48% for ferry travel

Since March I’ve spent far more time exploring from my door and appreciating Devon (my home county) than I did last year. It has been an enjoyable experience and one I intend to continue. I am obviously happily situated here in the South West but even so, in August 2020 I chose to take the risk and travel outside the UK.

I found it interesting to examine my reactions to this decision both before and after my trip. Beforehand I was more  worried about my impact on the environment than I was about catching or spreading coronavirus or the possibility of a post-holiday lockdown. Despite this I took even more precautions than I had been taking at home. I was travelling to an area of similar infection risk but even so, to be flying seemed to throw up a lot of issues in my head.

For someone who’s been avoiding shops, cafes and just about any indoor space, travelling was interesting. My ticket had been rebooked from a cancelled trip. I approached the whole thing with caution but not intrepidation and went everywhere armed with hand gel, gloves, masks and plenty of paperwork. Some of the paperwork was examined, some of it wasn’t.

I don’t think I’ll be considering another overseas trip for a while but if you are, please allow me to reassure you it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. Where people were confused there was explanation, and to answer your burning questions.

  • Yes we were discreetly temperature scanned on entering both airports
  • Yes we did have to wear masks in the airports and on the planes
  • Yes we were allowed to remove them briefly to eat or drink
  • Yes the plane was full
  • Yes we did have to exit the plane in an orderly manner
  • Yes there were a few general lapses in social distancing protocol (but far less than I have been seeing around Torbay

During the holiday we stayed at our accommodation for the majority of the time and enjoyed sunshine, cooking and relaxation opportunities. Could we have done that at home? Well of course. Could I do this on a UK trip? Absolutely. Will I be travelling abroad again soon? The jury is out on that one.

I’m not sure I believe in new normals. We humans have after all always been really good at adapting. The coronavirus pandemic however has made me rethink my approach to holidays and travel. Fundamental thoughts perhaps for a travel writer. Like I said earlier, I’ll be very interested to see what happens next.



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