TRAVEL has been put on hold in recent months, as the world endured a mass lockdown. With hopes of some restrictions lifting in the near future, many are hoping holidays can be reignited – but is it really possible to practise social distancing when travelling?
With Britons hopes of some lockdown restrictions being eased in the coming months, many might be casting their attention back to holidays. Since the beginning of the pandemic, travel dreams have been shattered as stringent restrictions have meant limited movement and a swathe of travel operators cancelling plans.
However, the way in which we travel, at least in the initial months of life post-lockdown, may be very different.
Borders around the world could remain closed, and the government have suggested that social distancing measures – including a two-metre gap from anyone outside of your household- could become the “new normal”.
With such measures in place, many might be wondering whether travelling will even be possible?
Luckily, there is some hope for future holidays, with travel experts from QualitySource which works with RV and holiday rental vehicles, revealing some ways in which travellers can maximise social distancing.
Speaking to Express.co.uk a Rowland King, director of QualitySource explained: “We think it will be possible for people to practise social distancing when travelling in the future. Of course, this will depend on where and how we plan to travel.”
Unsurprisingly, taking travel into your own hands rather than relying on public transport is one way to go about it.
“Travelling across the UK by car, for example, will be easier to practice social distancing rather than travelling abroad via plane,” Rowland said.
“However, airlines are already discussing implementing long-term social distancing measures onto air crafts.
“Potential control measures include temperature checks, face masks as well as seat design ensuring there is minimal contact between passengers.
“As well as control measures in airports, it is unclear how soon these changes will be implemented, and whether it is for the foreseeable future or until a vaccine is discovered.”
Already airlines such as Wizz Air and Ryanair have explained how wearing face masks onboard could help increase passenger safety and lessen the spread of viruses.
Wizz Air, which recently resumed some commercial operations from Londons Luton Airport, has put in place a number of new hygiene measures.
As part of these new protocols, throughout the flight, both cabin crew and passengers are required to wear face masks, with cabin crew also required to wear gloves.
Upon boarding, passengers will be handed individual disinfecting wipes for use in the area surrounding their seat, inflight magazines have been removed from seat pockets, and passengers are advised to make all onboard payments contactlessly.
Wizz Air UKs aircraft are now also put through a rigorous cleaning regime after every flight, and further disinfected overnight.
Meanwhile, Ryanair boss Michael OLeary told BBC that the Irish-carrier is considering similar methods.
“In terms of once tourists reach their destinations, how effectively they social distance is down to them,” continues Rowland.
“Visiting popular landmarks or opting for city breaks would make practising social distancing more difficult.”
This is why destination tourists choose may be crucial.
“There are plenty of destinations closer to home worth visiting.
“There are national parks, beaches and staycations.
“These are places many people previously wouldnt have even considered visiting,” Rowland points out.
Indeed, staying closer to home might even be the only option in the imminent months, but thankfully there are plenty of lovely holiday hotspots in the UK to choose from – many of which are steeped in nature.
“To make the most out of socially distant travelling, wed recommend spending time outdoors and trying things you perhaps wouldnt have before, whether it is camping, surfing, hiking or something else,” adds Rowland.
“Company is obviously an important factor.
“Some may prefer travelling solo, whereas it gives others the chance to spend time with close family and friends, without breaking the bank.
“There are plenty of cheap and accessible camping parks to visit, and you can even go off-grid to save more money and ensure you practise social distancing more effectively.”
Rowland continues: “We believe there will be a boom in travelling locally, whether its camping sites, RVs or Bed and Breakfasts across the UK.
“COVID-19 hasnt diminished the publics desire to travel, in fact, it may have increased it.”
The latest VisitBritain statistics show that the UKs tourism sector has forecast a 54 percent drop in overseas visits to the UK and a 55 percent fall in spending to £11.6billion.
Industry bosses say Britons could be the vital lifeline needed to revive it.
“Once lockdown is eased, the majority of the public will be desperate for a break,” says Rowland.
“Staying in the UK wont be everybodys ideal destination however, they may not have much choice.
“Much will depend on whether countries’ borders around the world remain closed. It is also thought plane ticket prices will rise drastically, making international travel less accessible.
The main risk with international travel, however, is the potential of a second wave of COVID-19. Thousands of holidaymakers are waiting on flight refunds as it stands, meaning Brits are unlikely to book anything else with the forecasts for July and August unclear. People will also be wary of potentially being stuck abroad if a potential wave does hit.”
Instead, the experts advise people to be wary of international travel arrangements for the next “two to three months”.
“Travelling the UK via RV or even camping allows us to visit secluded areas where we can safely practise social distancing,” they recommend.
“This is also an affordable option for a holiday, as well as being easy to organise last minute and being close to home if we are advised to return due to a second wave of COVID-19.”
However, they remain positive that the fear of a second wave certainly wont quash the nations passion for adventure and exploration.
“We think travellers will make the most out of a socially distant holiday, simply because it is a holiday,” they conclude.
“After such an unprecedented pandemic, people will be glad to have a chance to spend time with loved ones they hadnt been able to see for months.”