What will travel look like in 2021?
It is a loaded question, since the path towards getting out of the COVID-19 pandemic is still unclear. Sure, there will be tens of millions of doses of the anti-virus vaccine to be administered this month. There are more vaccines coming, I suppose. That is, as long as the transition between Administration in Washington is civil and coordinated.
When we do get out of this pandemic, can we get back to normal? Can we travel again without resorting to extra cautionary measures that we had to deal with in 2020?
This subject was brought up early in the pandemic. This is not the first time that air travel had to be amended for the safety of passengers, travel providers, and supporting staff. This time, the volume of arguments increased on whether we should travel, if at all – especially around the holidays.
After all, I did take a few roads trips this year. One of them was a huge success, despite the risk involved in executing it.
Mask-wearing does prevent the spread of the virus. Social distancing helps, too. With the cases on the rise towards new records in this country, one wonders if no one cares whether they live or die in this pandemic – just because they need to see their family hundreds or thousands of miles away. Let alone visiting them in locations where in-home gatherings have been restricted down to who is required to be there.
Right now, air travel does not seem like a good idea personally. I’m not sure if I can wear a mask for two or more hours while flying somewhere, even if the air has been filtered throughout an airliner’s cabin. On top of that, wearing a mask with my glasses on without fogging them up.
I am optimistic, however. I can see the days ahead when it is OK to fly for work without worrying about masks and paperwork proving I do not have any traces of the virus in me. I can also see the days when work travel will return so we can cover auto shows and let more people attend media events again.
One can still consider their options. For example, what can I do to create travel content through experience?
There are a few ideas in mind. Let me see…
The success of the Mid-Continent Road Trip to Omaha, Kansas City, and Wichita opens up to an encore. If the idea is to visit new places, then Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis appear to be the most likely set of destinations for the next epic drive. Out of the three cities, Cincinnati would be the better story. It is the place where my mom started growing up in the 1930s before moving to Los Angeles sometime before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Another road trip would take to some familiar places, but also some new destinations. For example, I would love to visit the Gilmore Car Museum complex in southwestern Michigan, along with the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana. Stringing these three museums together would be a great story to tell you. Heck, I might even throw in a stretch drive to Detroit.
These two road trip ideas would follow the same formula as this past July’s road trip: A night at each city and a focus on specific stops at each destination. These trips would also include stopovers along the way to ease the stress on driving.
Looking at the idea of when we can fly again without all of the guidelines in place, the idea bank opens up even more. One trip idea was a driving tour of New England and Upstate New York. That would require me to fly into either Newark, New Jersey or Boston, Massachusetts, pick up a vehicle at either airport, and try to hit every state in New England. Oh, and some extra time in the Catskills and along the Hudson River.
Trips like these require a lot of time, planning, funding, and bridging of resources. It also takes stamina to actually do everything on these trips.
That brings me to my biggest concern – my health. Over the past few years, I’ve had some challenges both physically and emotionally/mentally. While these adventures require some fitness along with an ambitious and curious mind, I have to be in that space to execute this without any concerns about my wellbeing.
Then again, I can only dream about the moment when we can travel freely again. To not worry about masking, quarantines, and restrictions. To finally explore places I have been wanting to visit – unfiltered and unfettered.
For now, it is only a dream.
All photos by Randy Stern