With every passing day of this global lockdown, I can’t help but think about the future of travel blogging. I mean, if there’s no travel, there’s no travel blogging, right?
Yet somehow, I’m not worried, nervous or depressed.
On the one hand, I know that the travel industry (including travel blogging) is going to take a big hit during this crisis. Personally, my blog traffic has been dwindling, on-going projects have been put on hold and potential assignments postponed indefinitely.
But on the other hand, I believe that sometime in the distant future, we will travel again. Borders will re-open, businesses that survive will emerge stronger and we’ll get our passports stamped. And when that happens, travel blogging – especially the kind that’s rooted in sustainability – will become more important than ever.
Instead of dwelling on the future of travel / travel blogging on my own though, I reached out to friends and fellow bloggers for their insights. Adventurous souls who focus on a mix of solo, sustainable, budget, luxury and regional travel.
- Domestic and regional tourism will bounce back first
- The era of slow travel is finally here
- Creative new revenue streams can help bloggers tide through the crisis
- Meaningful, low impact, sustainable travel must replace overtourism
- Innovative ‘pay now, travel later’ campaigns can help small businesses survive
- Travellers need to reconsider animal activities on the road
- Based on past crises, the travel industry will bounce back and still need bloggers
- What do you think is the future of travel / travel blogging?
Behold, perspectives from around the world on what travel might look like in the future – and how we can prepare ourselves as storytellers in this space:
Domestic and regional tourism will bounce back first
Just like travellers, travel bloggers need to look closer home for new adventures and collaborations
I was dreaming of going back to Iran this spring, and possibly onto Azerbaijan before we found ourselves in a global lockdown. As much as I miss being on the road, I’m trying not to dream of it.
But I’ve been receiving constant updates from friends in the responsible tourism space in India, on the devastating economic impact of India’s lockdown on local communities. Even as nature seems to be healing without human activity, tourism jobs and wildlife conservation efforts are at stake. That makes me long to not just explore the incredible beauty of India’s countryside, but also to support and promote responsible tourism in the region.
Infact, the idea of boarding a long distance flight and getting stuck in a far off part of the world is a scary one. Besides, speaking of the future of travel, some think that when international borders open, there might be a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travellers until a vaccine comes along.
Audrey and Dan of the responsible travel blog Uncornered Market believe the days of ubiquitous dirt-cheap travel are likely over for a while. “Closer to home aligns with a desire for the familiar (a typical response following a crisis) and reduces the risk of a cancelled flight or a closed border. It also supports local, regional and national economies. Long-haul travel will take more time to resume as it will have to adapt to visitor, immigration and border policies,” they say.
Adeline Gressin of the French travel blog Voyages etc concurs: “France will be the first destination I will travel in when everything will reopen. I can’t wait to hit the road to visit my family and friends around the country and do some local tourism at the same time. And then? Who knows.”
The era of slow travel is finally here
Travel bloggers who fly long distance for short travel campaigns will need to realign to this new reality
Until a few years ago, the prospect of waking up in a new country or continent every week or two – flown around by tourism boards – was extremely thrilling. But as I became aware of my personal carbon footprint and a desire to linger longer in every place I visited, that changed.
In the past couple of years, I’ve found myself drawn to slow overland journeys and long stints in (the seriously few) countries that allow Indian passport holders to remain within their borders for 3 months. It’s likely that post Covid-19, that’s what the future of travel will look like anyway. We’ll stop impulsively jet-setting around the world and opt for more meaningful travel.
Keith Jenkins, founder of iAmbassador and the luxury travel blog Velvet Escape, thinks “there’s hope that the global economy will bounce back once this is over but the current signs for a swift recovery aren’t very encouraging. It will take much longer for international travel to recover as people remain cautious. They will conduct more research about the destination and about local healthcare systems before travelling.”
Creative new revenue streams can help bloggers tide through the crisis
Now might be the time to go back to the drawing board to rethink income sources in the short and long term
Although I’ve focused on sustainable travel for a long time, I’ve also slowly been inching towards writing stories on sustainable living. That goes hand-in-hand with my personal transition to veganism, cutting out single-use plastic, using a menstrual cup, opting for sustainable clothing and an inclination towards minimalism.
I haven’t thought about monetizing this part of my work yet, but keeping the future of travel in mind, perhaps now is the time. I’ve certainly drawn inspiration from fellow bloggers:
Kate McCulley of the popular solo travel blog Adventurous Kate is “taking this [lockdown] as an opportunity to create new revenue streams by working directly with my readers. It almost feels like a creative reawakening for me. So far I’ve launched One-on-Ones with Adventurous Kate, where my readers can have a 45-minute private video call with me. I’ve also launched private blog consulting, a mentorship program, and my Patreon will be launched next week,” she says.
And Mariellen Ward, who runs the India-focused travel blog Breathedreamgo, has decided to continue building her new travel site, India for Beginners, saying, “I did not cancel the agreements I have with a couple of writers who are working on content for the site. Things may never be exactly the same again — but we will not be in this crisis phase forever.”
Meaningful, low impact, sustainable travel must replace overtourism
Travel bloggers and influencers need to rethink their values or risk becoming obsolete
Kashyap Bhattacharya, who redefined hostel living on his blog Budget Traveller, thinks “in the post Covid-19 reality, it will be more important than ever to travel with companies that really give a damn about the world and us, humans. I think a new world of more conscious travellers will emerge and we’ll be much more grateful for the ability to travel. So, in a perverse way, we’ll hopefully emerge from this more humble, more sane and grounded – that’s my hope.”
Popular tourist cities like Venice and Amsterdam have been grappling with overtourism for the past few years. But it took nature just a few days to bring all human activity to a grinding halt and start rebounding in these places.
When we emerge from this crisis, we need to ensure we don’t walk into another one. That means the future of travel is all about becoming more conscious of how we promote destinations, reduce our individual carbon footprint and use our tourism money to meaningfully support local communities and businesses.
Adeline Gressin believes that “sustainability in the travel industry will not be a choice. It will be a duty, and we, travel bloggers and influencers will have to be there to deliver this important message for our businesses to survive.”
Innovative ‘pay now, travel later’ campaigns can help small businesses survive
Bloggers must help small businesses in these times of crisis; we can’t exist without each other
The responsible travel groups I’m part of – from India to South Africa – are full of heartfelt pleas. Small businesses that focused both their resources and revenues on supporting local communities, environment conservation and heritage preservation, are slowly sinking.
With no revenue in the foreseeable future of travel, laying off staff and halting sustainable development might soon become inevitable.
Kashyap Bhattacharya thinks “it’s important to pay it forward in times like this. I have a few friends in the hostel industry struggling at the moment, so with the help of two companies, Stay the Night and hostel.consulting, we’re launching a campaign to encourage travellers to Adopt a Hostel by buying a voucher to ensure their survival. Unless we help each other, we won’t survive this crisis.”
Travellers need to reconsider animal activities on the road
Travel bloggers and influencers need to stop promoting tourism activities that abuse or enslave animals
Living in our little cages in this unprecedented lockdown has, hopefully, made all of us think about animals in zoos. Just like us humans, they are social creatures, deprived of their community life and natural habitat. They too, suffer from depression and other mental health conditions when denied access to the world. And we pay to keep them in lockdown forever.
Scientists are in consensus that as long as deforestation, biodiversity loss and large-scale animal farming continue, we increase the probability of cross-species transmission of infectious diseases. Covid-19, Ebola, SARS, bird flu, nipah etc are all zoonotic diseases that jumped to humans through proximity to wild meat, pig farms and poultry farms.
Maybe what we’re facing now is retaliation for all these decades of heartbreaking, inhumane, unjustifiable treatment of animals. And it’s high time we make travel, food and lifestyle choices that are not just more ethical, but also better for our own survival.
Based on past crises, the travel industry will bounce back and still need bloggers
Atleast one tourism board is positive that travel bloggers will still play a key role in destination messaging once this crisis is behind us
I wrote to a handful of friends in tourism boards and airlines for this post. But as expected, in these unprecedented times, the focus for many is on providing emergency support to stranded travellers rather than dwelling on the future of travel.
However, Chaminda Munasinghe of Sri Lanka Tourism was reassuring when he said, “Looking back at incidents such as terror attacks and natural disasters, it is clear that the travel industry gradually bounces back. Even in Sri Lanka, in the aftermath of the Easter attack in 2019, tourism quickly bounced back. We expect a boom in global travel – to destinations that are safe and covid-ready. And to that end, bloggers and influencers will play a major role in the decision making process.”
I certainly hope so. For the sake of an industry that accounts directly / indirectly for 12.5% of all employment in India and 1 in 10 jobs worldwide. Including mine.
What do you think is the future of travel / travel blogging?
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I’m the founder of this award-winning travel blog about offbeat and sustainable travel, and author of the bestselling travel memoir, The Shooting Star.
In 2011, I quit my full-time job, and gradually gave up my home, sold most of my possessions, stored some in the boot of a friend’s car and embraced a nomadic life.
Connect with me on Instagram to hear more about my adventures and personal journey.