Greece is now welcoming tourists, France will be soon, and Thailand is to follow (see the ever-changing list here). So why, after being grounded in Puerto Rico since January 2020, am I not interested in traveling?
- Destinations: I have been to most places that are ‘open.’ While I would like to revisit many on the list including my second favorite city in the world, Cape Town, I’m not going to repeat a destination simply because there is nowhere else to go. I do have a Country Count List that needs to grow.
- Is it really open?: Each day the ‘open’ country list changes. Countries are added and countries are removed from welcoming tourists. That makes it very hard to plan an epic trip. With the testing requirements, the curfews, and capacity restrictions, I may be better off staying in locked down Puerto Rico (see Another Useless Puerto Rico Lockdown).
- Testing: TPOL has enough problems keeping up with visa requirements (see China 72-hour Visa-Free Transit Disaster (again)). Like my China experiences, I can see myself being stuck getting in or not allowed to return home because I misread the testing requirements. Add in my laziness in locating testing locations here or abroad and the invasive experience itself (see Thanks Donald! My COVID Test in Puerto Rico) and I am more inclined to wait for the magical ‘vaccine passport’ to go into effect.
- Trip Epicness: I don’t go to one or two countries on a trip, book a week’s stay, and plan to unwind. I go to 10 countries in 24 days and burn myself out (see Travel Anxiety Sucks: Can It Be Prevented?) & ThePointsOfLife Travel Philosophy). Incorporating points #1 & #2 above, it is very difficult to book a classic TPOL trip.
- Value: The dollar does not go far in many parts of Europe. That was fine when I was partying in Sardinia and expected to pay to play (see Guns & Butter: Porto Cervo, Sardinia Travel Guide (Party Edition)). But, I’m not motivated to shell out too many euros on gyros just because Greece is open (see Make Corfu Greek Again! How Tourism Ruined an Island).
- Amateur Hour: The most annoying people during COVID are the ones who say that they can’t wait for this nightmare to be over so that they can get back (emphasis added) to travel. Those people never went anywhere before and the only place they’ll be getting back to is the typical tourist destination e.g., Playa del Carmen. Add in that there are only so many places open and everywhere will look like Vegas on Memorial Day. Think long lines, price gouging, and unsophisticated travelers. Or what I like to call amateur hour. Now picture a place like Dubrovnik which was already overrun by tourists even more packed. No thank you.
- Service: Given the limited options, the concentration of people going, and the need to make up for lost revenue, do you think that service will be better or worse? I would not expect to receive an upgrade at a hotel regardless of status. And I doubt my other strategy, complaining, would get me very far (see Have You Ever Not Complained?).
- Devaluation: By not going anywhere for over a year (see NYC Twice: A Recap of My 2020 Travels) I have amassed a small fortune of points. I thought I would be able to find all sorts of deals once the pandemic was over. I was wrong. Airlines and hotels continue to devalue their programs, making those points more precious. I’m not going to blow a night cert on a domestic stay in Chicago because Shanghai is shuttered to the outside world and I want pizza (see The World’s Best Pizza: Chicago Deep Dish Edition).
- It’s Not First Class: Imagine flying Emirates with no shower? Imagine flying Virgin without being able to congregate around the business class bar (see Virgin Atlantic Upper Class DTW-LHR: Party in the Sky). What about not being able to smoke a cigar in a lounge (see Champagne, Cigars, Caviar? The Most Clever Lounge Perk)? Does that sound like fun? It does not. Add in plastic cutlery and I might as well eat hummus and carrots at a Delta Sky Club and then fly a no-frills discount carrier to the aforementioned Playa del Carmen (see What’s the Worst Discount Carrier?).
- No Partying: Some people travel to visit museums. I travel to party. If the club is closed, what will I do? (See The Best Nightclubs in the World.)
- No Socializing: If I’m not making friends at the bar (see Ganbei! The Guide to Making Friends in China), I am socializing elsewhere. How can that happen with social distancing? There is no fun in going to a new country and not being able to interact with other travelers or local people because of social distancing in restaurants, in the streets, or public bathrooms.
I could end this post by accepting my depression and saying that I will cryogenically freeze myself until this pandemic is over. Unfortunately, I don’t see this coming to an end until the world realizes that it has to vaccinate the poorest countries with as much urgency for us to get back to normal. Instead of giving up on travel altogether, I am going to have to travel to places where these factors are not as big of an issue. These include islands in the Caribbean (see Rum Rum Caribbean Castaway) where restrictions are lax, nature reserves where I can rediscover my Bhutan happiness, e.g., Galapagos Islands, and Vegas because some hypocrisy is acceptable (see Come See TPOL Perform in Vegas in June!).