Travel is one of the joys of retirement. The chance to see new sights, explore new cultures, even just to shake up your day-to-day routine helps add spice to life. And, travel doesn't have to be exotic, or long distance to make a difference. A long weekend at a local resort, a short drive to the coast or mountains or desert can be just as therapeutic.
Covid has killed and sickened so many. It has destroyed businesses, harmed our youth's education, put unbelievable stress on relationships, even further divided us between mask wearers and those who see this precaution as part of a plot to steal our freedoms.
So, when I write about how travel has been disrupted, maybe even changed for good, understand in the grand scheme of things, the cancellation of a cruise or a week-long stay at your favorite cottage by the sea is inconvenient and disheartening for you, but when considering the big picture, not all that important.
Yet, in one sense, it really is. Millions of jobs are tied to travel. Many local economies are dependent on tourism, both in this country and around the world. Airlines lay off tens of thousands because so few people are flying. Massive cruise ships remain tied up at docks, crews, and those who supply those floating cities tied up in debt and a ruined career.
Heavens, even the most American of places, Disneyland, remains shuttered, while Disney World is open, but to only a fragment of the crowds, it used to welcome. Nearly 30,000 Disney employees at these two parks and the company's cruise line have joined the unemployed.
What is going to happen to all the jobs connected to the travel industry? Estimates range from 150-200 million jobs related to travel will vanish because of the pandemic. Even when travel starts to return, most of them will be gone for years, many permanently.
So, what does all this mean to us? If we can afford travel, what will be our choices? When will we start booking our next great adventure? Assuming the Covid vaccine has made everything feel a little safer, what will our options be?
For our part, Betty and I are likely done with cruising. Not only Covid, but all sorts of intestinal bugs have caused havoc on these 3-4,000 passenger behemoths. Maybe lockdown has caused this mental change, but being with large groups of people is a turnoff. Our month-long cruise to the South Pacific and New Zealand didn't happen last year; at least for now, we have no intention of trying it again.
Going back to England, Scotland, and Ireland is high on our list. We made some friends on our river cruise three years ago who we'd like to see again. They live an hour or two outside London and would be a real treat to spend time with.
We both love small English and Irish towns, a complete change from our normal desert environment. Betty has done enough ancestry work to want to visit some ancestral castles and gravesites from her side of the family. In our dreams, this could happen by next fall.
Betty has never been to Quebec City or Montreal. I know she would love the foreign feel and cafe culture. Those destinations are less than 5 hours by plane from home, which is also attractive. Next summer?
We have some very dear friends in the Portland area that we haven't seen in three years. We are overdue for some hugs and good meals together, though that city needs to settle down before we'd feel totally safe. For whatever reason Portland seems to attract some rather upset people.
A train trip is on my list. Amtrak is not particularly attractive now, and there is word they will eliminate all sleeper cars and long-distance travel over the next several years. Luckily, Canada continues to support, maintain, and encourage train travel. Some routes begin in Vancouver and head east, which excites me.
Oh, I must add Disneyland. Our family has several serious Disney fanatics. When the park in L.A. safely reopens, we will be there!
Unfortunately, all the trips and hopes listed above will be on hold until Covid is no longer a factor. At the moment, the vaccines are being distributed in the U.S. at a rate that will push safe travel back to at least late 2021.
The rollout and availability of shots are so slow that some officials are suggesting everyone receive just a half dose to make what we have go further. How's that for a dumb idea? Only give us half the protection we need just to make things look better. Heavens, I hope that isn't a serious proposal. I have been encouraged by the new administration's full-throated support for attacking the virus head-on with money and a large purchase of more vaccines.
For many reasons, 2021 will be better than 2020. But, travel remains a big question mark. We know where we want to go. What we do not have is a clue about when.
What are your thoughts?