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Time To Plan Up

When all the pent-up stay-at-home angst finally lets loose, boy, look out. These travel trends are here to stay…

By Doug Wallace

Few could argue how strong the urge to travel is when it’s not booked on the calendar. I find that I always need some kind of adventure to look forward to, save for, anticipate and then embrace. Buy the T-shirt. And while we can’t go much of anywhere right now, there’s nothing like some armchair travelling to get you in the mood for the journeys down the road. After all, planning is part of the fun.

Looking past ourselves and our privilege and those curbed travel plans, the collapse of tourism has brought vulnerable communities and conservation projects to their knees, desperate for the return of travel dollars. Get yours ready to spend when there is once again foreign land underfoot. Wherever you’re headed in the hopefully not too distant future, it’s time to lock onto the trends that matter most.

Bring on the bucket list
The first thing that will have to change is your mindset. It will take a while to cycle off staying at home and feeling confident enough to travel again. As we will very likely travel less frequently in the beginning, each trip will need to be more purposeful, yielding maximum benefit.

Meaningful travel will be at the top of everybody’s list – a you-only-live-once treat for being made to stay put for so long. Plan it hard and live it large: French Polynesia, Thailand, Uruguay, Greenland. It’s almost as if you should put your finger on a spinning globe with one eye shut.

Travel will be more sustainable, too, with tour companies looking for innovative ways to lessen the giant travel footprint. Think: train travel, cycling adventures, more hiking, less polluting.

Get out the cooler
In addition to the “travel less, travel better” credo, the slower method of travelling we’ve been enjoying combing through various parts of the province is here to stay. Rural Ontario could still be your oyster. Last summer, it was like we had forgotten how fun road trips are. Those who aren’t ready to fly yet this year will be back in the car, this time with more purpose. Your road trips this year will be better planned and better executed, capitalizing on all the practice from last year.

Those who are reluctant to revisit the airport when it opens will take baby steps – adventures across town, more city green space exploration, overnights in local hotels for the hell of it. I haven’t been on Highway 400 for so long I’ve forgotten where it is, but the lake district is brilliant fun. Prince Edward County and Niagara are always awesome; there’s always something new to see. Ever been to Lake Erie’s north shore? Neither have I, but it’s on my list. For those looking to book RVs, get on that now to avoid disappointment. The number of campers available for rent in Ontario is finite.

Hunker down and party on
Privacy is the new luxury. Those who have saved their pennies will be eager to spend them once again on isolated beaches no one’s ever heard of, private villas with two dishwashers, remote islands, desert, forest, wilderness—basically, wherever everybody else isn’t.

Private marine adventures and small-hotel buyouts will become the norm for family get-togethers, special occasion celebrations and the like, as multigenerational travel groups and gangs of BFFs let loose in their controlled bubble packs. Hotels themselves will be creating their own bubbles, offering different tiers of privacy depending on how comfortable their guests are about sharing public space.

Connect with the relatives
Get out the vacuum, because quality family time is about to amp up. Everyone you missed seeing last year – kith and kin, from the grandparents who aren’t getting any younger on down to the new babies you haven’t yet kissed – will be near the top of this summer’s list.

Familiarity is calming in times of chaos, and your family – and friends who are like family – will be the soothing balm. Eightieth birthday, wedding anniversary, annual family-cottage weekend, postponed-from-last-year wedding – all will be in line for reacquainting. Better make sure your suits fit. Mine sure don’t.

Rethink the workplace
Now that so many have gotten used to working from home – your boss included – the digital nomads will start to roam. What if it turns out your office only needs to see you once every two months? Or not at all? See ya! You’re working remotely from San Miguel or Bermuda, Jasper or Fogo Island.

If your office no longer has a downtown address and everyone is at home, what a great opportunity to create a work bubble somewhere else. Okay, this isn’t really travel, but it could be a life experience worth investigating, one that doesn’t have to be expensive. Hotels have already cottoned on to this and are making big plans involving longer-term rates and programs to entice this yearns-to-wander market.

Travel doesn’t have to be resortified all the time, either; I could live in a shack on the beach if the Wi-Fi was good. Apartment in Berlin? Sure. Condo in Costa Rica for a couple of months? Absolutely.

Don’t be afraid to wing it
While I realize this flies in the face of planners everywhere, and planning is often extremely important, sometimes you just have to say what the hell. Just like the finger-on-the-spinning-globe mentioned above, winging it has its sexiness. Pending quarantine reductions and such, last-minute may be not just a frivolity but a necessity, as travel restrictions change so rapidly and randomly.

I’m not really a winger, but I could try it if the company was good (and it always is). Who hasn’t wanted to just go to the airport, look at the departures board and decide on the spot where to go? Sounds like a movie waiting to happen and you’re the star.

DOUG WALLACE is the editor and publisher of travel resource and podcast TravelRight.Today.

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