We thought we were mostly done with it.
We thought that with three different COVID vaccines available in the U.S. for free, we would get mass “shots in arms” fairly quickly across the country. We fought polio, smallpox, rubella, measles, diphtheria, and so many other diseases; wouldn’t this be the same?
We thought people would return to semi-normal life with more gratitude, more empathy, and more caring about one’s community, after all the trauma we’d gone through as a nation and as a planet.
Will travel ever be the same?
For one thing, a lot of us have lost a lot of faith in our fellow humans, and it will take quite a while to get it back.
I am normally a positive person, but my tolerance for traveler rudeness, petulance, and selfishness is down to zero.
Hell yes, I want consequences for that passenger who was so mad about being asked to buckle her seatbelt on a Southwest flight that she punched a flight attendant and knocked out two teeth. No problem at all to duct tape that woman to her seat on American Airlines, after she tried to open a plane door in flight. I am not one to pick a fight or play “tough guy,” but I dread the next time someone is a jerk near me on a flight, because I have NO patience for any of that anymore, and I will go off.
Certain destinations are starting to get crossed off of my travel list because not only are they dangerous hot spots thanks to low vaccination rates, but the message I’m getting from such places is that the people there have learned nothing from the last year of suffering. I do not want to be around such callous and uncaring folks, frankly. My time and money are better spent elsewhere and I expect to continue including the “local jerk factor” into my travel calculations in the future.
Eventually, the hospitality staffing shortages, airline fuel shortages, lack of hotel housekeeping service, mask-wearing, passport processing delays, international travel upheaval, and other unexpected travel industry recovery issues will sort themselves out and come to an end. The overcrowding in our national parks, for example, was getting to be a problem even before the pandemic. When you try to help by looking for the least-visited parks, you find that many of them are pretty isolated, so duh, of course they aren’t overwhelmed like the others. The blessing/curse is that many fine state parks are getting a lot of attention, instead.
My new habit of getting a lot more takeout meals won’t go away. Neither will ordering most groceries for curbside pickup, or looking for independent small-town shopping opportunities and unique local places to eat when I do travel. I expect merchants to have rudimentary e-commerce capabilities now, and it’s exciting that we can shop and buy from locals in other countries through innovative cultural startups like Local Purse, in addition to stalwarts like Etsy.
Flying has completely lost whatever charm it used to have, so I will be more likely to drive or look into train service for future trips. If I can’t avoid flying, I’m more likely to upgrade to get a little more space away from fellow humans.
I’ve never taken a cruise, and now I’m not much inclined to do so unless it’s on a small vessel, or maybe a river cruise. Those big behemoth ships with thousands of people are less appealing than ever.
So, will travel ever be the same, or have we permanently lost some sort of traveler innocence?
Most of what was normal will return, but many of us in this pandemic generation will now always have an edge of skepticism (cynicism?) in addition to our gratitude for surviving.
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