Veera is a published Author (‘Endured’ and ‘#LoveBitesLifeHacks’) and Columnist; a passionate Educator and Counsellor; Poet and Philosopher… but most of all, a lover of all things literary.
If you are a woeful Travelista with cancelled holiday plans and rescheduled flights for the year 2020, chances are 2021 may not be too different. The refreshing reprieve of holidaying abroad – a distant reality even now, especially with most countries and Foreign Offices still warning against non-essential travel and quarantine rules – makes most trips impractical.
If you are one whose annual break is as compulsory as filing your annual Tax return and weekend getaways are an absolute essential… if you’re known amongst your jet-set lot as a bit of a cause célèbre just by virtue of your travelogues, then this can be a disheartening time for sure. If a foreign country you’ve visited umpteen times starts feeling like home, when the locals there recognise you, when your favourite cafe there serves you a cuppa on the house, and the immigration officer behind the desk greets you with a smile and a “Welcome back!”, you sure do have that travel bug!
Right now, with the world on standstill, your next holiday probably seems a lifetime away. It’s also clear that your next holiday is likely to be very different from any you’ve taken pre-pandemic! As the travel industry adapts to the new health and safety concerns and tries to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic, a lot will and has changed. While social distancing is the top priority everywhere, we see lots of elemental changes too… Sanitised airports and planes, other modes of transport, PPE suits on aircrafts are now the norm to encourage passengers to feel comfortable flying again. Hotels are redesigning layouts with greater spatial areas, especially in restaurants and lounges, and incorporating new materials that can be sanitised efficiently and easily.
Prior to the pandemic, people travelled for work, play, to relax, rejuvenate or just revitalise. For the ‘Gen-X’ err… Millenial Travelista travelling to new places, exploring, experiencing different cultures, trying out new cuisines, interacting with people from diverse cultural backgrounds, et al, has truly become an intrinsic part of their lifestyle. This passionate generation of travellers is influenced more by the travel posts of their peers on social media, relying on it as an authentic source of reliable information. With travel becoming more accessible and economical, the world is your oyster. The bucket list keeps getting deeper and the destinations, more exotic. They travel to influence, so it is important to capture the best travel stories through videos and photos, inspiring their circle of friends and colleagues to add a new locale or destination to their unending wish list!
Post the Pandemic, the entire travel industry, which was on pause, is slowly inching its way – tiny steps at a time – towards some form of normalcy. Restoring consumer confidence will be a key part of recovery. Initially, people won’t want to venture far from home, preferring long weekend stays and drive-to destinations. Air travel will take a backseat, while people look at more sustainable and lower footprint ways to travel. While train travel may soon grow in popularity in the coming months, road tripping seems to be the most favourable and viable option at the moment, allowing more control of their environment ,avoiding undue exposures and contact with strangers.
The worldly Travelista – the suave one with panache and expertise, is a well-travelled globe-trotter. You can spot her a mile away at any airport, no matter how exotic, obscure, modernised or quaint its set up. You will see her adapting soon enough, with some changes, few compromises and slight tweaks along the way. Instead of her earplugs, sunscreen, moisturiser and slip-on shoes all packed with magical ease in her hip carry-on, she will soon sport novel masks and gloves, sanitizers and perhaps her own personalised branded PPE suit in the times to come.
While the streets of New York, London and Paris are her regular haunts; the isles of Capri, Santorini, Procida are her annual summer getaways; with Maldives and Phuket serving well as peaceful weekend breaks. Her post-pandemic mind-set may have her exploring untouched and hidden gems tucked away discreetly and beyond city-centres and conventional tourist spots. Responsible travel within closer proximity to oceans beaches, hills, forests and islands may take precedence over glitzy capitals and urban appeal. Holidaying in and around your own turf seems the safest bet at the moment.
Growing up back in the 1970s, we had our own little word for staycations – called “Holidays”! Neither my family nor anyone we knew really went overseas. It wasn’t that big a deal back then. The posh set with the zest for travel did venture on those occasional tours provided by local operators, but back then, those too, generally entailed domestic travel. Even the really well-off Bombayites didn’t have the mindset for Seychelles or Bali. And ‘Barley’ was just something farmers grew and a cool aid drink to counter those hot summers.
‘Holidays. Were, by definition, staycations; and the most exciting ones ever. Without apology here, I don’t mean that I disapprove jet-setting off abroad. I love travel – it’s my annually awaited celebratory break. Now with friends and family dotted all over the length and breadth of the globe, our vision of the outside world has become a dreamy possibility, whilst our knowledge of geography and topography – entirely detailed.
Most students, back from summer breaks, boast of leisurely travels to the Cote d’Azur or hectic ones at Disney World…. All the while, we were amply enchanted with lazy summer sojourns in Matheran and spring breaks in Lonavala! This was partly because in our days, elation meant absolutely anything that distracted you from tedious fractions and monotonous history lessons. I am also convinced that holidays were far more momentous back then by virtue of being, at most, one a year. I grew up in a time when there were no minibreaks or motorways, no cheap flights, no Facebook or Instagram posts of people prancing around in Prague or Croatia; we certainly had no ‘Wellness Clinics or Spas’ to boast of, neither rejuvenating experiences nor hundred pretentious pictures of people sipping wine, enjoying tapas in the quaint lanes of the Spanish countryside. Paella, Burittos Galettes, Gyros were unknown… Scotch eggs and French toast was as foreign as most people got!
Maybe Covid-19 will whisk the holidaymaker back to the bygone days of indigenous wholesome fun. Things somehow were more spacious when we went horseback riding to peaks up and about in Matheran or the distances so long in Mahableshwar, all packed in the backseat of that car. As a pack of teenagers, we were lucky to enjoy the surf and sand of local sandy beaches. Aksa, Gorai, Madh Island, Marve were weekend getaways, much like Goa became years later. Enjoying fishy fare and Konkani cuisine from local kitchens accompanied with frothy mugs of beer helped to wash off spicy food, even as those frothy waves danced around our ankles, washing away our cares.
Growing up was available on home territory and I believe it still is. Maybe this year, one may revisit some old haunts and irreplaceable memories. Holidays were certainly not detailed plans of packed schedules and grand itineraries. Air travel was not unknown to us, but the concept of more was! The world was stunning as is and we really did not need to be scudding all over the globe to believe that.