Coronavirus

Fun Travel May Mean Road Trips for the Foreseeable Future

Unless you are especially dedicated to seeing the world and willing to run a gauntlet of hassles to do so, travel is poised to become a more local activity.

|

If you travel in the near future, you're likely to be masked, restricted, and monitored very closely—and despite how that sounds, you probably won't be locked in the trunk of a car. Actually, that's how you're likely to travel if you're not in a car.

Based on regulatory guidance, industry recommendations, and company policies, the only way any of us are getting from Point A to Point B anytime soon without running a gauntlet of additional hassle and expense is to drive our own vehicles. And pick your destination carefully—hotels and tourist attractions may take a while to get back to normal, too.

For starters, if you're like me and habitually chafe at intrusive post-9/11 security theater in airports, you might want to get yourself a tranquilizer prescription—or swear off flying for the time being. The old security screenings will likely be augmented by health checks, restricted service, and delays.

"Travellers at airports will find themselves tested before they fly and upon arrival at their destination airport. They can expect to see social distancing measures at the airport and during boarding, as well as wearing masks while onboard," predicts the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

The World Economic Forum (WEF), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and SimpliFlying, a consulting firm, all see the use of thermal scanners to detect fevers with only those deemed "fit to fly" allowed to proceed. On the same note, the use of symptom-tracking and contact-tracing apps may be mandatory for anybody planning to board a plane.

While acknowledging privacy concerns, WEF predicts the accelerated replacement of standard travel documents with biometrics "where your face and body are your passport" in order to minimize physical contact. Digital contact via biometrics with a vast database on our activities and movements can be assumed. In addition to the usual proof-of-identity, "immunity passports" may be required, limiting access to some destinations to travelers who have already had COVID-19 (assuming that actually conveys immunity).

Everybody expects masks to be required in airports and on flights, social distancing to be enforced, and procedures to take longer. Passengers and luggage alike will probably run through disinfection via fogging and/or ultraviolet light, which will add time and complexity to the process. SimpliFlying believes "people may be required to show up at least four hours prior to departure." And who doesn't want to spend more time in airports? Oh, wait…

In-flight, we can expect limited service even in First Class, additional confinement to our seats, and possibly empty middle seats to reduce the chance for contagion (though keeping that many seats deliberately unsold is controversial, as you might expect).

IATA foresees "more frequent and deeper cabin cleaning," which SimpliFlying says means that "every aircraft, after every flight, will have to be deep-cleaned, fogged and perhaps even sterilised."

All of that is going to mean fewer flights, higher costs, and—after the current bargains fade away—almost certainly more expensive fares as a result. We'll pay through the nose for a sterile and monitored ordeal and may still be turned away from our destinations if we fail a health check.

If you're looking for alternative mass transit, bus and train travel won't feature the same hassles as air travel—implementing all of those screening and sterilization procedures at every bus depot and train station in the country would be impossible —but you can still expect some changes. Greyhound is requiring masks and encouraging social distancing. Amtrak also requires masks and is limiting bookings to 50 percent of available seats.

So, even once your intended destination is out of lockdown and there's something to do upon arrival, you may want to focus your travel plans on road trips, for a while. Traveling in your own vehicle will largely eliminate the poking, prodding, and pure misery that air passengers are in for.

"The consumer mindset about vacations may take a longer-term shift in favor of the outdoors and trips that can be made with just the family or smaller groups of friends," predicts The Motley Fool's Jim Crumply. He sees a boom in demand for recreational vehicles and camping gear that can be used away from crowds.

The revival of the road trip may even kneecap efforts to discourage car ownership and reverse the trend away from driving among younger Americans. Famously resistant to the allure of the automobile, Millennials and Gen. Z haven't even been eager to get driver's licenses. But the annoyance of owning a vehicle is likely to pale in comparison to passing through increasingly intrusive security procedures in order to pay a premium for sterile service in traveling metal tubes. By contrast, owning and driving a car may be seen, as it was in the past, as liberating.

The situation at your destination is less predictable. Hotels and attractions are subject to local rules and conditions. Some will return to business as usual, while others will adopt new restrictions.

"There will be new protocols for check-in involving digital technology; hand sanitiser stations at frequent points including where luggage is stored; contactless payment instead of cash; using stairs more often than lifts where the 2 meter rule can be harder to maintain; and fitness equipment being moved for greater separation among other examples," the WTTC predicts for hotels.

The organization developed protocols for the hospitality industry that include recommendations for the use of masks and gloves, possible health and temperature checks for guests, greater spacing in restaurants and meeting rooms, and more-frequent cleaning. All of that is meant to reassure travelers, but it could be a bit off-putting.

If all of this sounds to you like long-distance traveling is becoming more of a pain in the ass, we're on the same page. I'd suspect that control-freak bureaucrats upset by a mobile population designed the "new normal" for air travel, in particular, to discourage us from going anywhere, except that it's certain to push many of us to our cars. Travelers setting their own itineraries in their own vehicles are the hardest to track, and the most unpredictable.

But we can't go everywhere by car. That means that long journeys—especially international travel across non-contiguous borders—is likely to take a hit for some time to come. Except for those of us who really need to visit foreign destinations, or who are especially dedicated to seeing the world and willing to run a gauntlet of hassles to do so, travel looks poised to become a more local activity than it's been in decades.

Advertisement

NEXT: Rand Paul’s ‘Attack’ on Anthony Fauci Was Actually a Reasonable Point the Doctor Agreed With

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Based on regulatory guidance, industry recommendations, and company policies, the only way any of us are getting from Point A to Point B anytime soon without running a gauntlet of additional hassle and expense is to drive our own vehicles.

    HOW DARE YOU!!

  2. Everything depends on how many people acquiesce in this nonsense. If most just kowtow, government wins, and there is little chance of turning back towards liberty. If people raise enough fuss, it might be a start of recognition that Big Brother is a damn fool and a return to liberty. I am not optimistic in the short term.

    1. First of all, I don’t think these measures will ever happen for domestic travel. They are not happening now. Hard to see how they would be implemented in the future.

      Governments have enormous powers at the border. So, I could see these things being applied to international travel. The problem with that is that people will just stop traveling internationally. When that happens, countries that are worth going to will decide tourist dollars are worth more security theater. So my guess is these things won’t last very long even at the international level.

      1. How about “contact tracing apps” that are totes going to go away once this whole virus thing gets settled. Like the TSA went away after we realized it was both a gross over reaction and completely ineffective theater.

        1. The tracing apps might last. Most people won’t give a shit about that. And no, they would never go away. And yes, they would absolutely be misused.

    2. “”Everything depends on how many people acquiesce in this nonsense.””

      Largely I agree with that. The other is how courts will rule when Govs and Mayors can no longer justify the emergency.

  3. If people raise enough fuss, it might be a start of recognition that Big Brother is a damn fool and a return to liberty.

    It will just mean more people being killed by the police for failure to obey.

    1. It’s already started. You just have to be black.

  4. This paranoia will end in November one way or the other.
    If Biden wins, the media and the Dem state governors will stop their panic and apocalyptic postures.
    If Trump wins, it means the people would have punished the Dems for their extreme measures that destroyed their livelihoods and way of life.

    1. Murphy’s Law dictates at least a “hanging chad” situation.

      1. That seems a little milquetoast for 2020 doesn’t it? Instead of hanging chad, I’m going with Trump is causing the next tsunami/earthquake or they’ll really up it and stage an alien invasion. If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that literally nothing is off the table.

        1. “At least”. War with China, anyone?

          1. In all seriousness, I believe this will be a very real discussion in the next decade. The economic fallout of the shut down and it’s even worse “fixes” will leave the dollar so worthless that a massive global war will be sold as the only fix. They taught me in high school that mass murder campaigns abroad really unite the people and make us unbelievably productive!

    2. I agree, I think the dems are hoping for a great depression to relive their glory days of the 30’s and FDR expanding the state like no other. I think they forget how that decade ended, with the deadliest war in history.

  5. “Fun Travel May Mean Road Trips for the Foreseeable Future”

    There is no Foreseeable Future.

    1. It’s Foreseeable Futures all the way down!

  6. So basically coronacowards have managed in a few short months what envirofreaks couldn’t accomplish in decades.

    1. Never let a crisis go to waste! Apparently the crisis just needed to be more immediate than the decades long melting of ice caps.

  7. Travellers at airports will find themselves tested before they fly and upon arrival at their destination airport. They can expect to see social distancing measures at the airport and during boarding, as well as wearing masks while onboard

    On the plane, however……

    1. A wild orgy of virus exchanging.

      1. “Your wife. Does she enjoy … epidemiology?”

        1. “That’s it baby! Take the mask off. Take it all the way off.”

  8. When I used to travel for work at various industrial facilities I would drive my fifth wheel it made work a lot better not living out of a suitcase in hotels. Get out there and see this beautiful country before the fucking Democrats ruin it for everyone.

  9. We are gambling on it working and have booked a super cheap flight to Bali for October. The key will be if the layover in Hong Kong is available.

  10. They said the same doom and gloom after 911.

    1. Right, and once cooler heads prevailed the TSA was disbanded and all the security theater horseshit was abandoned once everyone realized how ineffective it all was. Wait…

  11. ” travel looks poised to become a more local activity than it’s been in decades.”

    This is good news. The fewer people traveling, the better it is for those who take it seriously. Smaller crowds, less tourism, lower prices: there are many attractive features.

  12. Fun Travel May Mean Road Trips for the Foreseeable Future

    Unless you’re 8 and it’s your first flight, road trips have always been the more fun mode of travel. Both modes (or several modes) have their pluses and minuses but at the very least, the only people who would tell you that air travel is unequivocally more fun are either paid by airlines or get a higher commission from you when booking your trip.

    Full disclosure: I have a vested interest in seeing the price of party buses fitted with stripper poles go down.

    1. “Unless you’re 8 and it’s your first flight, road trips have always been the more fun mode of travel.”

      Sea trips are better. Dancing, gambling, shuffleboard, dining at the captain’s table. It’s romantic and adventurous. Train travel is good too if you have a sleeper berth. Being cooped up in a car for hours on end is not much different from air travel.

      1. Being cooped up in a car for hours on end is not much different from air travel.

        Except when you get tired of being cooped up in a car, you can pull over, get out, and walk around. When you’re in a car, your options aren’t just (not) chicken or (not) fish. When you’re in a car and the baby starts crying, you can tell the parents to shut the kid the hell up. Headphones are more affordable (or not)…

        Air travel is great in that it can convert an 18 hr. car ride into a 3 hr. plane ride, but pretty much any 3 continuous hrs. of the car ride will be at least as good or better than any 3 hours airport-curb-to-airport-curb of the flight.

        1. One thing that mskes long-distance toad trips bearable is roadside stoos at shopping centers.

          The longest continous no-stop drive that have done was to Vegas (4 hrs).

        2. A 3 hour plane ride is much more than that when you consider driving to the airport, waiting 2hours to takeoff, waiting to get your luggage, waiting at the rental car kiosk and finally driving to your destination. I used to enjoy flying pre-TSA but have swore it off since. Road trips rule!

  13. Fogged and irradiated.
    I see the streets, stores, human bodies, and buildings being fogged and sprayed with what caused cancer in laboratory animals (yesterday), and today are mandated…if the corona don’t getcha the chemicals will.

    1. >>if the corona don’t getcha the chemicals will

      shame Robert Hunter’s not around to write a song incorporating this

  14. The revival of the road trip may even kneecap efforts to discourage car ownership and reverse the trend away from driving among younger Americans.

    Nope.

  15. Greyhound is requiring masks and encouraging social distancing.

    Great, so the creepy weirdos will have anonymity when they figure out how to grope you from 6 feet away

    1. Not to blame the victim, but you did get on a Greyhound bus with a bunch of anonymous weirdos.

  16. Meh… I’m taking my whole family on a vacation to South Carolina next week (four kids). The flights from Seattle were dirt cheap, as was the rental car. I’m assuming the airport will be less crowded than normal and parking will be easy. Never a better time to travel!

    This Summer, once the borders are open, we’ll all be going to Europe (Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland), too.

  17. I’d suspect that control-freak bureaucrats upset by a mobile population designed the “new normal” for air travel, in particular, to discourage us from going anywhere, except that it’s certain to push many of us to our cars.

    Which is ironic given those same control freaks hatred of cars.

    1. then comes the Motor Law … Red Barchetta!

  18. We just booked our flights this week to Manila from Chicago for January, 2021 and returning in February. No idea what is going to happen between now and then, but figured that early is better than none. Can’t drive to Manila. That’s Manila, Philippines, by the way, not Manila, West Virginia, Utah, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Colorado, California , Arkansas, Arizona, or Alabama.

  19. It’s Spring . The old gas guzzler is out of winter storage and gas is cheap even here in Illinois . Even cheaper in nearby Wisconsin and Indiana. Have taken a few road trips to Wisconsin . Very little traffic and NO cops on the roads as far as I can see.

  20. My best adventures in travel have all been road trips.

  21. Get customized t-shirts for your friends and yourself before you go on your trip. Customized T-shirts and trips go hand in hand. Get yourself a set of custom t-shirts for your trip curated especially with your designs and quotes. Visit http://www.champu.in today and get a free sample!

  22. Get customized t-shirts for your friends and yourself before you go on your trip. Customized T-shirts and trips go hand in hand. Get yourself a set of custom t-shirts for your trip curated especially with your designs and quotes. Visit http://www.champu.in today and get a free sample delivered at your door step.

Please to post comments