The Coast News Group
Experts predict that small-ship adventures will increase in popularity. Examples of these are trips offered by Adventure Canada on the Ocean Endeavor, above, a 198-passenger, converted Russian ferry whose annual itineraries focus on Northern Canada, Iceland, Greenland and the Arctic. Photo by Jerry Ondash
ColumnsHit the Road

Hit the Road: Post-vaccine, travel likely to change

The big news last week (and maybe for a while to come) is that there are vaccines for COVID-19 and that one is coming to a clinic/doctor’s office/drugstore near you.

It may be a few months before a vaccine is readily available to those of us who aren’t front-line medical or essential workers, residents of nursing homes, or persons at high risk for complications of the virus.

But for those who love to travel, the news of the vaccines offers hope, light at the end of the we-can’t-go-anywhere tunnel, and a cautious optimism that one day we’ll be able to pack a suitcase and really go somewhere.

The arrival of a vaccine also means that the travel industry is attempting to predict where consumers will go and what they will want to do once freedom of movement is restored.

In recent weeks, my emailbox has been filled with missives with subject lines such as “Discover the Magic of Alaska on a Future Trip,” “How to Get the Most Out of a Future Visit to Texas,” and “Inspiration for Your Future Food-Focused Expeditions.”

“Future” seems to be the operative word here … and now the future is almost here. And as we wait, we are seeing a new vocabulary around traveling emerge.

One term that has popped up frequently is “doorstep travel.” This refers to traveling via RVs or other self-contained camping vehicles – that is, taking your home with you.

Many see this as the safest way to go because it eliminates the need for a hotel room and some of the worry about contamination. In truth, hotels probably are cleaner than they’ve ever been, but if travelers feel more comfortable in their RV bubble, then they should go for it.

When it comes to cruising, going small is fast becoming a favorite option.

Many cruisers are forgoing the so-called “floating cities” – ginormous ships that carry several thousand passengers and crew – and choosing instead riverboats that carry less than 200.

This mode of transportation and sightseeing was experiencing a surge in popularity even before the appearance of COVID-19 shut down European tourism, but now it seems even more likely that an increased number of riverboats will be cruising the Rhone, Rhine, Danube, Seine and other rivers.

“Even when most of us are vaccinated, the desire to avoid large crowds will likely remain,” predicts Adam York of Sublime Public Relations in Missoula, Montana, which promotes vacations in less-traveled locals like the luxury resort Red Reflet Ranch near Ten Sleep, Wyoming.

York spoke with travel-trends experts who told him that “… with many families unable to see their relatives during COVID, (we should also) expect a surge in 2021 in multi-generational travel.”

This pandemic has also given rise to the socially distanced vacation. Travelers have turned to searching for remote destinations and experiences, like hiking and camping in crowd-free national parks.

Some that have seen more visitors than usual but still are mostly overlooked include Shenandoah (Virginia); Black Canyon of the Gunnison (Colorado); Capitol Reef (Utah); Lassen Volcanic (California); and North Cascades (Washington).

If travel for the holidays is a must and you’ve decided on the train, know that some planning is required. Between Dec. 23 and Dec. 28, Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner requires reservations for all travel between San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. This helps manage capacity and allow customers to socially distance. Also, the Rail 2 Rail program will be suspended during this period, which means monthly Metrolink and Coaster passes will not be accepted onboard Pacific Surfliner trains.

May you and your family have a happy and healthy holiday and maintain a sense of optimism for the coming 2021.