Authored by Dawn Greer
In light of our changing world, having wanderlust is not as easy as it used to be. Social distancing and pandemics have created a need to carve out our own space, and international border restrictions are changing almost daily.
Not surprisingly, international plans have mostly been cancelled, but recent numbers suggest that travelers are still hitting the road; they’re heading into the great (local) outdoors in record-setting numbers.
Nature is the best way to ground, renew, and engage with your life in a way that helps through these troubling times. People are seeking solace and sanity by getting back to nature, and finding new ways to travel by re-discovering old standbys.
In terms of how the pandemic has affected travel, we’ve got data you’ll find interesting and all the details on how and why travelers are hitting the road now more than ever!
Numbers Don’t Lie! Travelers Are Hitting the Road Now More Than Ever
Hitting the Road With Your Room in Tow
Airline travel has all but shut down, though travelers still have the urge to hit the road. With no immediate recovery for the airline industry in sight, travel has started trending toward camping; hitting the road with your room in tow.
Whether you reside in Australia, Europe, or America, towing a camper and hitting up local parks has become a global trend as travelers who would have been heading overseas choose to instead explore their own backyard.
Perhaps as a way to buck the ‘stay at home’ mentality, though maybe it’s simply because we all feel better when we get outdoors, breathe in the fresh air, and take in the beauty of nature.
It’s a mental health retreat we can all use right now.
And numbers don’t lie – Yellowstone National Park attendance was down as much as 38% by June this year, according to AARP. Then, in the last two weeks of the month, numbers suddenly increased. In June of 2020, more people visited the park than in June 2019.
Yellowstone specifically has lead the way in establishing safe travel precautions, while still allowing access to explore the outdoors. Physical activity is one of the best ways to keep both the mind and body healthy, but it’s still incredibly important to recreate responsibly, even when in the outdoors.
Parks Gear Up
The other reason parks specifically have seen an increase in (local) visitors all over the world, is the willingness of local communities to support their struggling tourism economies.
Locals traveling at home right now are directly responsible for keeping small businesses afloat, and communities have really come together with a high level of pride in exploring their local regions, and supporting the travel industry.
Due to the surge in visitation, the National Park Services throughout the US have placed extra porta potties for visitors and are implementing plans to help people maintain social distancing and not share facilities in large numbers.
With new protective barriers, a restricted capacity of high density areas, and increased cleaning of facilities, the parks have done well to achieve just the right balance of allowing outdoor fun, while keeping people safe in a COVID era.
RV Sales Are Up
Hotel and motel bookings may be down during the pandemic, but RV’s and camping trailers are reporting massive increases in sales, and many dealers are equal to or ahead of their sales for last year.
According to the Boston Globe, RV sales and rentals have skyrocketed during the pandemic – a massive increase of 1000% in their rentals from April 1st thru Labor Day.
When lockdowns first began, the increase in sales was due to medical staff and other front-line workers looking for temporary housing to protect the rest of their family from contamination.
Then as local border restrictions and lockdowns started easing, the increase swung back towards more traditional vacation bookings, though from travelers who would have otherwise been going overseas, now wanting to holiday close to home.
And this is only likely to continue into the future. According to a US Travel Association survey, 47 percent of people said they were more likely to travel by car after the pandemic subsides, and 42 percent would likely choose destinations closer to home.
You Don’t Have To Own A Camper
Obviously, with sales increased by such astronomical numbers and used campers selling as quickly as the ads are posted in some locations, buying is tough.
You don’t have to own a camper though; RV rental programs have existed for many years and work much like Airbnb except that you’re renting a camper or RV.
Companies like Rvshare and Outdoorsy will deliver a camper to you for an RV trip across the country, and it doesn’t matter where you live. Even if you’re in the heart of a city, i.e. campervan rentals in Los Angeles definitely exist!
Of course, it’s perfectly easy to tent camp without needing a camper or RV at all, though if you’re doing so, it’s wise to make your campsite reservations well in advance, as the recent surge in camping and local travel means sites book out fast!
Face Masks in the Outdoors
Even though the outdoors is the perfect place to socially distance, the face mask has still become an essential item to pack for time in the outdoors.
Wearing surgical face masks in public was already a cultural norm throughout much of East Asia before the pandemic, but there has always been a certain stigma about wearing them in Western countries.
After the Spanish flu in 1918, wearing masks in public became a matter of ethics throughout countries like Japan and China, and this cultural norm was only strengthened by the outbreak of SARS in 2003.
It’s normal for people in these countries to wear masks even if they’re not ill, and seen as a sign of respect, and a sense of security for the people around you. People view wearing a mask as a civic duty.
Even though the science on the efficacy of face masks isn’t there, face masks have already become standard across many destinations, even when spending time at beaches and National Parks.
Have you packed yours?
What do you expect from the travel experience in 2021?