A year ago, booking a last-minute holiday to a destination halfway around the world was something you could do in just a few clicks. Today, the idea of even crossing a land border is littered with speed bumps, from ever-changing government regulations (like the air travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore that burst before it started) to time-consuming health and safety protocols that will likely be in place even when the vaccine finally arrives.
Being homebound has created an overwhelming sense of nostalgia among avid travellers. Where would you be right now if it weren’t for Covid-19? It’s a question that elicits all types of answers on social media: photos of long, lazy lunches in Tuscany; the glistening waters of the Maldives; a glorious sunset on a safari drive. Instagram is replete with images of past trips coupled with captions that demonstrate our yearning to travel and the significant role it plays in our lives.
While there is a collective itch to get back on the road, the giant pause brought on by the pandemic has had a silver lining. It has given nature a breather from human activity, resulting in clearer skies and cleaner air in many countries, and allowed wildlife to reclaim habitats. Being stuck in one place has also encouraged many people to think about the nature of travel itself and how it can be made a more sustainable, mindful pursuit.
According to a pre-pandemic study conducted by Design Hotels last year on travel trends for the next decade, there had already been a shift to a more conscious type of travel, values held close by what they call a "promadic traveller". There were also signs of a rise in eco-travel and travel to remote destinations, but the behavioural changes caused by the pandemic will go beyond choosing a less-trodden path for an active, nature-driven holiday.
We are likely to see a return to slow travel, with many people opting for fewer but longer trips, a decision triggered in part by the complications around mobility at the moment. Travellers will aim for a lighter carbon footprint, which will drive greater interest in uber-local destinations, and there will also be an inclination towards immersive wellness experiences.
As we look forward to travelling once again, we asked global tastemakers from various industries how their view on travel has evolved, and where exactly they are dreaming of going in 2021.