For most of us, it’s been a while since we’ve even entertained the idea of long-haul travel. Google searches for the term ‘staycation’ increased by over 500% in the last year and the number of people staying put in their home-country rose rapidly, too – closed borders and a global pandemic aren’t exactly conducive to world travel.
Whilst we’re by no means in the clear, some glimmers of normal life are returning and more people are daring to dream again. Searches for long-haul travel are on the up and the phones are certainly ringing more for most travel companies.
But why is now the right time to start travel planning?
1. Having future travel plans is good for your health
There’s been a lot of research into the health benefits of travel in general and it’s been proven that it helps to reduce stress and improve our cognitive function. But even just planning or booking a trip can be good for us.
Of course, the anticipation of something exciting like a big trip is nice to have – especially after a year of little travel – but having something to plan and talk to friends about has benefits, too.
Humans are social beings at their very core and so our brains associate travel plans as something to talk about and bond over. This stimulates the amygdala, the part of our brain that reacts to fear or excitement. The act of socialising in itself is good for emotional intelligence and reducing stress levels (depending on the person, of course…) and travel plans encourage these interactions.
Read more on the correlation between travel and better mental health in our blog post here.
2. Support developing nations that rely heavily on tourism
The hit on tourism has had a huge impact on countries that rely heavily on the industry. Travel not only benefits hotels and tour companies but many parts of a local economy – think of all those local restaurants, shops, markets and museums that you may visit when abroad. Without tourists, many of them are forced to close. Locals may not be able to afford the same prices as visitors in some destinations and they often remain empty.
Guides and porters across the world have also been devastated. Many of their roles exist solely because of tourism and many have had to scramble to find alternative income sources, in some cases moving away from their families to find work.
In destinations like Cuzco, Peru, 92% of people working in tourism had lost their jobs. Cuzco is an example of somewhere that has been hard hit by the pandemic. Planning and booking trips to places that rely so heavily on tourism, like Peru, can inspire hope.
It’s thought that many will continue to travel domestically over the next year so if you are privileged enough to be able to travel safely internationally, it’s also worth considering where your money will have the most impact.
3. Guarantee availability for that must-do experience or dream hotel
The cabin fever that comes with over a year of lockdowns and quarantining is set to cause a bottleneck of people looking for new experiences in new places. National Parks and areas of natural beauty have already seen huge spikes in visitor numbers as people crave more open space. Many national parks and popular hotspots are limited to just a handful of hotels and so booking early will save you from disappointment.
Popular bucket list experiences are also set to book up fast. The Inca Trail, for example, has been closed for 16 months and has just reopened at 30% capacity. If you heard the rumours that it was hard to get a permit before, things are only going to get that little bit more exclusive.
Other National Parks such as the Galapagos Islands were already operating on strict visitor numbers. Before the pandemic, it was best to book places that had visitor restrictions in place at least a few months in advance. It’s now recommended to book between 6 months and 1 year ahead.
4. The UK travel industry still needs you
With the current traffic light system in place, there is still too much uncertainty for both travellers and the industry. The chopping and changing of Amber and Green status countries makes it challenging for people to make plans confidently, resulting in reduced bookings.
Many travel firms still have a large percentage of staff making use of the government furlough scheme. Yet despite the devastation to revenue, are being expected to now contribute to payments for these staff, which is putting more jobs at risk.
It’s estimated that 307,000 jobs have been lost or are at risk in the UK travel industry. Around 50% of UK travel firms surveyed by travel association ABTA claimed they couldn’t survive more than 3 months in the current circumstances. That’s 50% of an industry that accounts for around 11% of all UK jobs and around 10% of the UK’s total GDP.
We hope that continued action from the travel industry will encourage things to improve but the industry needs more support from both the government to inspire confidence from the UK public.
5. There’s no time like the present
If the last year has taught us anything it’s that nothing is for certain. So seize the day, get planning, and treat yourself to the trip that you deserve.
If you’d like to talk to us about your next trip then please give us a call.