Travel is my hobby. I don’t hunt or fish and only play golf about twice a year. Almost all of my free time and money goes to travel. I am fortunate that I can do a lot of my work from anywhere in the world.
Over the last 18 months, my travel plans had to change some, but I never stopped traveling. Many people did stop traveling. Barbara and I have been on airplanes with as few as nine people. Vandin and I took a subway in January in New York City from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and we were the only ones in the car for 45 minutes. We have stayed in hotels where we saw no other guests the entire stay.
But in the last few months, things have changed drastically. I recently read that leisure travel is already surpassing 2019 levels. But that has created a lot of headaches. Here are my 5 Thursday Thoughts about travel right now.
Everywhere Is Full
Everything is not open yet, but the things that are are full. Restaurants, hotels, theme parks, and beaches are packed. Airlines are adding more routes to outdoor leisure destinations weekly. Last week in San Diego, the restaurants in one shopping area all had two-hour-plus waits or were no longer taking names. I went to San Diego twice during the height of Covid, and it looks completely different right now with the numbers of people out.
People Are Irritable
I have previously written about people being more angry post-pandemic (link here). There are several causes for this, but when you add other frustrations to people at a breaking point, bad things begin to happen. Long lines. Slow service. Lack of availability. Delays. Higher costs. All of it together is causing problems everywhere. Restaurants are putting up signs asking patrons to be patient and kind. Flight attendants are asking for stiffer penalties for aggressive passengers. We need to check our attitudes and be aware that others are very edgy right now.
Businesses Are Understaffed
There is a multitude of reasons for businesses being understaffed. Some of it has to do with extended unemployment benefits. But that is not the only culprit. Some people realized how much they hated their jobs and were just not going back or doing something else. Demand is high, so people are taking higher-level positions at other companies. This shifting in job assignments leaves many entry-level jobs that pay closer to minimum wage open. Understaffed businesses are not a problem that is going to be solved quickly. Most businesses are doing the very best they can.
Experiences Are Different
We went to our first theme park last week. You had to make a reservation in addition to your ticket. There was a long wait at each attraction. Things moved slower than normal. It was just different. Airlines are still requiring masks. Hotels are not offering cleaning services every day. The experience is different almost everywhere you go. Some of it is a new normal for which we just have to get prepare. Some of it is because places are still trying to figure out how things need to work. Your trip is probably going to look different than you planned.
Delays Are Inevitable
You are going to wait. You will wait to get a seat at a restaurant. You will be on hold for hours to change an airplane reservation. Airlines are experiencing more delays. And it is not just in travel. Products can’t ship. Manufacturers are behind. Logistics can’t move the items fast enough. Everywhere you turn, there are delays. If you are traveling, this can be extremely frustrating. Our family missed an entire day in Hawaii due to an airline delay. Two young people in the military were on the same flight and were worried about not making their orders in time. Delays happen. They are just happening a lot in the current environment.
If you like to travel like I do, be prepared for things to look different. But don’t let it scare you. I have found travel to be one of the most life-shaping things I can do.