Talking wistfully about travel amid the pandemic can seem tantamount to downplaying the severity of its impact on our lives. When so many others have lost loved ones and jobs, it sounds a little insensitive to grumble about how much you miss going out.
The truth is, extended restrictions on our mobility really do hit a sore spot. Experiences make us happier than possessions. And in an age where reducing material consumption is acknowledged as the socially responsible thing to do, travel was emerging as the perfect way to enjoy living.
The casual tourist can soon look forward to regularly shopping at Changi Airport, going on a cruise, or even just taking a road trip to local attractions. But many business travelers are probably less than enthused to resume their migratory lifestyle.
The good news is that the pandemic could actually change the way we do business trips and make them something to anticipate.
The grind of business travel
For someone who follows travel blogs and accounts on social media, drawing up lengthy bucket lists faster than they can cross destinations off them, business travel might seem ideal. On the surface, what better proposition could you get than getting paid to do what you love?
Of course, you’d probably anticipate the downside of not having full control of your time. After all, that’s why people still pay for their trips. They don’t have to plan their itinerary around a workday full of meetings and deliverables.
Even so, you’d think that the resourceful traveler could somehow manage to squeeze some pleasure into a business day abroad. The truth is, living on the road is a lifestyle that takes a toll on you in unexpected ways.
Every business traveler can expect to feel the acute effects of travel-related stress. This can stem from various sources.
Your quality of rest can be compromised due to lengthy or irregular hours. Constantly thrust into unfamiliar surroundings, you’re forced to be more alert, sapping your energy. You’re less connected to friends and family while paradoxically having less time alone. And all these factors make it even harder to stay on top of your workload.
A pandemic-induced change
For these reasons, business travel can be far more stressful than the inexperienced would expect. No matter how carefully you plan your day, you’re always walking a fine line. Do too much, and you lose energy, potentially impacting both job performance and your ability to enjoy your personal time.
At first, you’d think that the pandemic could only worsen things for business travelers. And the industry was indeed hit hard, and our experience changed in negative ways.
Most companies canceled non-essential trips and shifted towards remote work, which brings its own stress-related factors into play. Many destinations have closed indefinitely or opened intermittently over the past year and a half. Those who continue to travel for work must ensure compliance with new regulations for health and safety.
Yet the pandemic is also predicted to spark change within the industry.
The reduction in volume isn’t forecast to recover anytime soon. That forces businesses to adapt, improving the quality of the experience, which is good news for their patrons.
Biometric systems will make airport checks flow smoothly. Companies will shift business travelers’ expectations from being ‘road warriors’ to digital nomads with extended stays and less time pressure. Businesses in the host country will focus on improving real-world attractions and amenities, knowing that the last thing most travelers will want to do is face another screen.
It all amounts to a new, revitalized experience for your future business trips.
Building a pod
And there’s something else you can do to step out of the grind. Learning from the pandemic, many tour organizers are creating ‘travel pods’ to offer improved group travel safety.
The idea is that multiple people can agree to share an itinerary, take Covid-19 tests, and strictly follow the necessary precautions. This allows the pod to take advantage of some things that solo tourists can’t, such as booking an entire resort or venue or getting discounted rates for groups.
If the future of business travel will effectively thin out the numbers and require strict compliance with safety measures, it places you in exclusive company. Reach out to your fellow travelers, and if you can all agree on house rules and shared values, you can form a pod of your own.
As long as you can be certain that your group is sticking together and observing the protocols, you can enjoy some fellowship as you go about your business. That can help alleviate a lot of the social isolation you’re bound to feel in an unfamiliar destination.