First of all, so many people are tired of being in lockdown and being limited to travel abroad, be it a vacation or a business trip. Or even live a normal life.
True, some international travel is already ok – for humanitarian or medical reasons. I personally know such examples. Some countries, like Turkey are re-opening for tourists and I welcome it. Hopefully more countries will eventually follow such examples.
But for the absolute majority of us, 2020 will still be the year to stay home when it comes to international travel.
I personally think that in many ways, governments have globally overreacted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe because nobody I know, luckily, has been affected by it.
To me, too many governments were incompetent or just panicked, making the outcome of the COVID-19 even worse when it comes, first, to people’s psychological health and, second, to their economic well-being.
Still, this is not the plague: you can’t just lock down the world till this, true, very strong, very severe form of flu will be somehow gone. In this regard, I fully support the Swedish experience; to me it looks like the wisest approach so far.
So I would deny the words ‘have to’ for ‘would like to’. I think, doing all the sensible precaution measures, we’re already ready to travel. Yes, do testing, wear masks when needed, use sanitizers, etc.
But let us be civilized humans, let us obey necessary rules and let us free ourselves from that primitive, primeval fear: we’re all going to die from this flu, bla-bla. Hell, no.
Yes, we may travel now because we’re smart: we have nothing to fear except for the fear itself, like FDR put it brilliantly in times much harder, much darker than now…
Should anybody travel unless they have to?
Absolutely not. The recent news that thousands of people holidaying in Spain will suddenly now have to isolate for 14 days on their return to the UK has me asking myself why anyone, unless they really, really had no choice, would want to travel at all, anywhere. Especially with so many places around the world either experiencing a surge of new Covid-19 cases, or expecting a second wave of some sort.
Yes, I understand that people are very fed up, probably very hard up, and feel very hard done by with what they have had to experience over the last few months. So why not a break to get away from it all, what’s the harm in that? A question for every single individual to consider.
Me and Mrs B can also feel somewhat hard done by, along with everyone else. Our granddaughter has just graduated with high honours at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta, North Cyprus, along with being best student in her year. Both our sons and their families were due over in June to share this once-in-a-lifetime celebration. All cancelled, of course.
Last month, we were due to attend a wedding in the UK, and in September, a family get-together in Malta. Both cancelled, though the point is we decided against those trips long before the flights were withdrawn by the airline. My yearly trip to Jersey to present the annual Jersey Sports Association for the Disabled awards, as a patron, in November is also off, though interestingly, I have been asked to present the awards remotely. That’ll be a first! Our intended visit to see family in Copenhagen for Christmas and New Year is hanging in the balance by a super-fine polyester thread that is almost invisible.
OK, one reason for the reticence to travel is, well let’s be blunt, that I’m an old git, and whilst I wouldn’t (dare) put Mrs B in that category, she will admit to being somewhat past a spring chicken. Sadly, her plethora of auto-immune issues also makes her a perfect example of how being infected with Covid-19 would almost certainly book her an early appointment with Mr. G. Reaper. So our attitude is very much safety first – not just for us both, but in the event we could pass on the virus. It’s just a no-go, and we’re happy with our decisions.
It also begs the question whether those of much more tender years feel somewhat different to us old fogeys. Of course they do, so would we, I’m sure if the positions were reversed. But could it be that some youngsters already feel invincible? They’re young, they haven’t got it so far, (are they sure?), and anyway, even if they do get it, their bodies will cope, so nothing to worry about there. And, be honest, when they get to their destination, are they all really going to socially-distance and not join any crowds, and wear a mask at all times?
I get many messages from people asking me when I think it will be a good time for them to come back on holiday to where I live North Cyprus. My message is simple. Not this year. Just don’t bother. It’s not worth the hassle and risk. Our borders are also open and guess what, we now have an increasing amount of positive cases. What a surprise. Added to that, the Greek Cypriots, are making unilateral decisions whether to allow non-Cypriots across the border. So you could land in Larnaca or Paphos, and not be allowed into the North, or, after your stay, you could be travelling back to the Greek side for your flight home, and not be allowed out of the north.
Many travel web-sites I have looked at suggest that you ask yourself first whether the virus is spreading where you live, and whether the virus is spreading where you want to go. But the answer is no way that straight-forward. Because, let’s face it, nobody knows.
You could easily leave the shores of, say, the UK during a time when positive cases are stable. You could fly onward to a country, like North Cyprus, that also seems reasonably safe, or vica-versa. Within a few days, the situation could have changed for the worse in both places. You’re then stuck with, at minimum, compulsory quarantine on your return, or, much worse, come home with something you really, really don’t want to have.
Don’t do it.
Let’s Play a Game
This is one of those subjects that will change in the next year and we just don’t know what’s going to happen. Should anybody travel unless they have to? I don’t think that will be even a question for another year. But who will need to travel is an interesting question.
I read that about one in five Americans may never go back to work in an office. This is a really big deal. If you don’t need to go into the office, why stay in an expensive city? Why not move to a small town a hundred miles away and bring your big city paycheck with you? Big house, land, maybe even a pony for the kids. For these guys, remote work becomes a life-changing blessing.
How will this change in the way we conduct business affect travel? To quote the Orange one: Biggly. Folks on business trips tend to spend more and travel better. They call it Business Class for a reason. Guys like me eat pressed chicken lumps Alfredo in the back of the plane. My idea of luxury travel is watching last year’s sitcoms on the handy six inch screen on the back of the seat in front of you, between your knees. Will hotels be able to book their nicer rooms? Not to me.
Of course, the knock-on effect here is huge: few travel, so millions who work in restaurants, hotels, airlines, and car rental all get fired. This could a big deal that effects entire nations.
Let’s just pick out one of the above: The mechanics who repair rental cars also get fired. The computer guys who write scripts for car reservations get fired. This can go on and on. They’re people who don’t even think they work in the car rental business who will get fired. The lady in the gas station down the street… gone.
So the people who can travel, like me, don’t and the ones who travel for business don’t. I wonder how many thousand people all those Disney Parks will lay-off next year. Will smaller amusement parks even stay open?
Of course, HSBC don’t give a shit. If you fall behind they absolutely will come for your car. I guess it’s alright as long as this doesn’t affect the precious 1%.
I have written in these pages before that I don’t think Adam-Smith-style Capitalism will be with us long-term. This is yet another broken bone in a long list of injuries to the middle class.
There is a game, Jenga, where you pull out wooden blocks from a tower. We just don’t know which block will cause the entire tower to fall.
Now imagine a game where only the rich are allowed to pull out these blocks and every block represents money transferred from society to the 1%. We keep pulling out blocks without a thought as to when the last factory transferred to China will be one too many. There are now thousands of factories just over the border in Mexico. There are millions of angry people all over the industrialized world ready to smash the entire tower across the table.
It may be that without an answer to our question, Does Anybody Travel, our tower of wooden blocks will not last until the end of the decade. Covid yanked several blocks out and travel was the biggest. The thing is, nobody knows which block will be the last.