By Angelica Bottaro 

Being bitten by the travel bug could have been a great experience—if only it didn’t happen to me during the COVID-19 pandemic! Maybe it’s because I know I can’t travel, or perhaps it’s because I finally got to the place where a decade of career labour has finally paid off enough to even think about leaving it all behind for two weeks. Who knows why it happened, but it did, and now I’m right there with the rest of the travel-loving crowd, gazing longingly at maps and booking sites.

There’s so much of the world to see, and as the minutes go by, there’s so much less time to do it in. I, for one, would love to fly away to a far off land and see all the beauty of the world, but am I ridiculous to think that it’s even a possibility right now? Between the latest variants of the virus and fresh lockdowns to contend with, it seems that the dream of boarding a steel bird and experiencing adventure is further away than it ever has been.

Lockdowns And More Lockdowns

I live in an area that went on lockdown pretty quickly after the first cases of the virus started climbing. That was in March of 2020. Since then, I’ve felt stuck in a perpetual state of teetering between going rogue and resisting full-blown lockdown and thoughts of ‘some things are open but do I want to risk my life to get a new pair of jeans?’ Just thinking about how I can’t go to a restaurant down the street for a meal with friends has me questioning my sanity about the feasibility of doing that in another country.

Considering the current measures prevent me from going to the next municipality, let alone crossing a border into Somewhere-Else-Ville, it’s not looking good for a 2021 vacay. When the lockdown lifts will that really change anything? There will still be this virus affecting the entire world. I’m not too sure, but from where I’m standing, the near future of travel is looking pretty bleak.

Vaccination Anyone?

One thing giving this grim black and white picture a little pop of colour is the vaccine. If I were in the first tier, which I’m not, I would be jumping to get pricked by the little needle—and I hate needles. My conscience wrestles with the privilege of getting the vaccine when other not-so-lucky people are literally dying in their millions. I’m not sure I can justify taking a vaccine from someone who needs it more than I do so that I can have a little holiday away from home.

Sure, eventually the vaccine will be for everybody and the entire world will be safe to return to business as usual—or as close to usual as possible after a devastating pandemic—but do I think that will be this year? No, I definitely do not. That time will come eventually, but I’m not holding my breath.

New Strains, New Problems

I’m sure much of the world has heard about the new strains of the virus that have been popping up in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. But what does this mean, really? Well, according to the American Center for Disease Control (CDC), this means that a quicker moving COVID-19 is out there in the world. We all know that more cases mean more restrictions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the restrictions and saving lives. How deadly the new strains are in comparison to the first is still uncertain. To me, this means that the entire world is virtually back to square one. So far, research has shown that the vaccine can recognise the antibodies created by the new strains, but there are still too many known variables, and in this case, what we don’t know can hurt us.

What Are The Travel Experts Saying?

According to reports, travel experts are much more optimistic than I am when it comes to 2021 travel. The industry leaders say that not only is international travel in 2021 feasible, but it’s also inevitable. They go so far as to declare that increased leisure travel will begin as early as May. 

The two main factors for consideration are testing and vaccinations. Unfortunately, these aren’t being approached uniformly by every country in the world.  The caveat here is that for things to work out, countries need to work together better. A global approach is the only way forward to kickstart the travel industry again.

So, am I getting too far ahead of myself thinking about spreading my tourist wings this year? Probably. Am I going to stop dreaming about that perfect vacation and hoping that this whole COVID-19 global protection and prevention plan works? Definitely not. You have to have hope, after all.