The world has changed a lot in the last 12 months, not least of which has been our ability (or lack thereof) to explore it thanks to international border closures resulting from the global COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, if there's anything this past year has taught us it's been our incredible ability to adapt to new and unprecedented changes to our very way of life. While the pandemic has had an impact on almost every aspect of our lives, there's no denying it has hit the travel and tourism industry the hardest.
So as tourism bodies clamber to incentivise you to book a trip, many would-be travellers are left wondering if now really is the right time to travel. Although there are some concerns regarding travel at this time, there is also plenty in favour of taking a trip. We weigh up the pros and cons of taking a holiday in the new COVID normal to help you decide if it is worth travelling right now.
Explore Your Own Backyard
For so long, Aussies have looked to foreign shores when planning their holidays. Seeing all of the amazing attractions and experiences that our own country has to offer was always at the bottom of the to-do list, something that they would eventually get around to. Now with international travel off the table, holidaymakers are beginning to discover just how much Australia has to offer. Whether you desire unique landscapes, ancient culture, historic landmarks, breathtaking natural beauty or bucket list experiences - Australia has it all! There are so many great Aussie alternatives to overseas destinations so you can still enjoy everything from tropical getaways to incredible wilderness journeys right here in your own backyard.
Better still, we're seeing the return of the classic family roadtrip. A holiday here this year is a wonderful opportunity to deepen your relationships with family and friends by spending quality time together. Too often a 'family holiday' turns into dropping the kids off at the kids club while mum and dad enjoy a bit of well-deserved relaxation with a massage or a few cocktails around the pool. While this is certainly enjoyable for all, it does miss the mark when it comes to spending meaningful time together - and isn't that what a family holiday is really all about? Many of us have fond childhood memories of packing up the car and heading to the annual family holiday destination where we'd catch up with those familiar, once-a-year families who became friends. Now is the perfect time to share this experience with your children and create those lasting memories in their minds.
Your Holiday Will Help
Research has shown that Australians feel the need to justify their holidays and that 28% of people experience guilt for taking a holiday. Now there has never been a better excuse to go on holiday and feel good about it! Even before the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, Australian holiday destinations were facing challenges of their own. Between devastating bushfires and destructive floods, smaller towns that rely on tourism to strengthen their economy were suffering. Your holiday can help a lot more people than just you and your family. It's the perfect way to support your own city, state and country - the battlers who, without the support of the local community and the patronage of visitors, may not survive this difficult time. In fact, while your holiday may seem like a small drop in the ocean to you, it can have a dramatic ripple effect that benefits many people down the line.
By booking through your travel agent, you not only help them but also the hotel where you choose to stay. It doesn't stop there either, your visit then goes on to benefit the local tour operators, the hospitality staff at the hotel and in the surrounding bars, cafes and restaurants. All of those little neighbourhood shops where you browse and pick up mementos or souvenirs. All of these people are helped by you choosing to book even just a weekend away. Of course we mustn't forget our friends overseas. There are many holiday destinations that have been a favourite with Aussie tourists for a very long time that rely heavily on tourism and are currently doing it tough. They've always looked after us so well when we visit, that when international travel resumes we can't forget to support them where we can. Many would-be travellers still have credits for trips they were unable to take and rebooking your Fiji holiday will mean so much to the small but hugely friendly communities who are struggling.
A More Personal & Intimate Experience
As we're all well aware, COVID restrictions have been placed upon pretty much everything and in many instances this has felt like a loss. However when it comes to travelling, there is actually much to be gained by capped capacities and social distancing requirements. By limiting the number of people allowed on certain tours and inside certain attractions, you are actually guaranteed a more intimate experience. Smaller groups mean more personal and attentive service, a chance to ask the guide any questions you may have and less chance of some wayward fellow traveller photobombing your perfect shot. It's peace and quiet to enjoy and absorb the serenity and significance of the experience. It also means our most iconic national landmarks and attractions are free to be enjoyed without pushy tourists asking silly questions.
You're Less Likely To Get Sick
Wait, what? Yes you read that right. Believe it or not, travelling during a global pandemic means you're actually less likely to get sick. How often have you come home from a holiday only to come down with a cold or some kind of bug? Whether it's from being crammed in a plane breathing in your neighbours air or touching the handrail as you climb the steps of the Opera House (along with the thousands of others) there's so many opportunities to pick up germs. Despite our best efforts to avoid getting sick on holiday, travel has always had a bit of a reputation for testing our immune system.
However now more than ever, hygiene is at the forefront of everyone's mind. Masks are now mandatory on planes and in airports. Many businesses are adopting contactless check in and touchless solutions for interactions including ticketing, payment, vending, booking and menus. In order to operate, every business and public space must have an approved COVID-safe plan in place that includes the availability of hand sanitiser and the frequent cleaning and wiping down of surfaces with disinfectant. Everything is now done to a higher standard and we are all more vigilant with our own hygiene as well. By implementing COVID-safe principles, we can all stay safe and healthy while on holiday.
Travel May Not Feel Like A Priority
At a time like this, you may not prioritise a holiday over other things like an upgrade to the house. It can be very tempting to spend any spare cash on 'stuff' rather than invest in the kind of experiences that travel offers. However after being stuck at home for the majority of the last year, cabin fever is no doubt setting in. 22,000 Australian students were required to learn at home since the pandemic reached Australian shores. If you were one of the parents who were forced to home-school, then you well and truly deserve a break! Maybe it's time to leave the kids with their grandparents and reset with an adults only holiday - no judgement here!
Perhaps previously a shiny new toy may have been all the reward you needed, however the world has changed and the distance that was forced between us has helped us to appreciate our relationships and connections with people and places over material things. Anyone who took lockdown as an opportunity to Marie Kondo their home will understand the importance of keeping the clutter of stuff out, while inviting the joy of travel and new experiences in.
My Work Situation Was Impacted By COVID
This is a tough one, and no one understands the impact the pandemic has had on jobs and income better than those in the travel industry. Whether your income and hours were reduced or your situation simply changed and you now find yourself conducting business from home, there's no denying that COVID-19 has affected everyone financially in one way or another. Whilst we would never advocate for spending above your means, we also know how creative we've become with budgeting throughout this process and that creativity can definitely be applied to planning a holiday.
While you may not end up taking the holiday you were originally planning, you can still reduce the length and luxury of your trip without sacrificing your getaway completely. If your work hours have been reduced, then you may as well leave your leave in the bank and use these extra days off to do something rewarding in your downtime. Better yet, if you're working from home who says 'home' can't be a holiday home by the beach? Imagine the look on your colleagues faces when they realise your Zoom background is ACTUALLY the beach.
Again we would never encourage you to spend money you don't have but if you've got a little bit saved up, all you need to book a TravelOnline holiday is a $200 deposit. Our layby holidays mean you can pay the rest off in affordable instalments.
Border Closures Make Me Nervous
As Australia's COVID situation has continued to stabilise, we have been a lot luckier than many others with the restrictions that have eased and borders that have opened including a travel bubble with New Zealand. With that being said, we still need to take the appropriate actions to protect our communities and keep people safe, so there will be times when further restrictions are needed temporarily. Although this can be frustrating if it impacts your travel plans, holiday providers are much better equipped to deal with these situations now more than ever before.
Added flexibility gives peace of mind, ensuring you won't lose your money if a snap border closure effects your holiday plans. In most cases you will have the opportunity to amend your travel dates at no cost, or retain a credit on file for use at a later date. TravelOnline has also introduced a COVID Refund Guarantee to ensure that if your travel plans are affected by the pandemic, you will receive a full refund. Entry requirements can change based on public health directives and your travel agent can help with guiding you through all of the relevant information and any declarations you may need to complete.
This is the new normal that we find ourselves in and unfortunately we don't know when things will be different. It's been a tough 12 months for all of us, and we all need something to look forward to. With all the stress we've been under, holidays can do wonders for mental health. Even the act of dreaming and researching your next getaway can have you feeling much more positive.
It's not worth waiting to see if things will change. They will eventually, but we don't know when. We all deserve to start feeling better now and one of the best ways to do this is by planning a holiday. Whether it's a weekend away to de-stress or a grand adventure, once you allow yourself to think about what is possible and start planning, you'll feel so much better about life and the future. When you actually get to go and have your holiday, the sense of accomplishment will be huge.
After everything we've been through in the last 12 months, isn't that worth it?