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What’s the Future of Travel Blogging When Nobody’s Travelling?

future of travel, future of travel industry, future of travel blogging

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?

I’ve dedicated almost a decade of my life to this travel blog. It’s my primary source of living, yes. But it’s also my passion, my bridge to the world and one of the few constants in my nomadic life.

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.

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?

future of travel, future of travel industry, future of travel blogging
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Shivya Nath

I quit my full-time job in 2011 with a dream of travelling the world. Two years later, I gave up my home, sold most of my possessions and embraced a nomadic life. I'm passionate about going off the beaten path, solo travel, sustainable travel and veganism. Let's connect!

40 Comments

    • Shivya Nath says

      Thanks! Seems like most countries will bailout airlines – but I hope it’s contingent on them moving towards more sustainable fuels, something very few airlines are voluntarily doing right now.

  1. Sayed Sudip Ahmed says

    I loved this article. As like you, I also pray, hope and believe soon the industry will bounce back and God will give us another chance to prove ourselves.

    • Shivya Nath says

      Let’s hope so! Atleast I hope we’ll learn some valuable lessons through this.

  2. Iamonpinkjourney says

    Don’t you think it’s good that travel is stopped for while. With limited human activity nature is healing so fast. So when we search for less visited places we can think our disturbance is also causing disturbance. I guess it’s time to think about the impact our every step is having on Mother Nature.

    • Shivya Nath says

      Absolutely. It puts so much in perspective. But past crises are evidence that once things go back to normal, people forget. I hope that’s not the case this time.

  3. Has been a joy to read your scripts. Some things you mentioned here are really touching. I am just hoping that post the lockdown, we get to see a new wave of travellers focusing on responsible, sustainable and slow travel and the ones who are used to hip hopping just like that open their eyes to reality.

    • Shivya Nath says

      Thanks Shilpa! We definitely share that hope 🙂

  4. Kamakshi says

    Travel will never be same again is how I feel and will take atleast half a decade to bounce back but too early to comment. Happy for the fact if consumerism in Travel and social media take a jolt though

    • Shivya Nath says

      Half a decade?! Whoa. I sure hope it’s sooner than that. Considering 1 in 10 jobs worldwide are related to tourism.

  5. Travel industry is indirectly linked with a lot of other industries like Food, Hospitality, Adventure services, So, A bash on this industry means these industries fail as well. Strategies should be made starting today by the Travel Boards , political support must be given. I have done surveys where few people are eager to travel international as soon as the lockdown is over while others are too sceptical and afraid

    • Shivya Nath says

      Yes, the economic impact will be unprecedented, is what most economists seem to be predicting. Let’s hope this is somehow behind us soon.

  6. Thanks for writing this Shivya.. I for one am longing to travel whenever it is safe to do so. But I also agree that the way we travel needs to change and will change for the next few months at least. I have family abroad who I want to meet desperately but I don’t know when that will be possible. However, whenever I start traveling again, it will be to local places and while practising sustainable travel options. Let’s hope for the best 🙂

    • Shivya Nath says

      I can totally understand that longing, Prachi. Let’s hang in there, hopefully we’ll able to hit the road someday soon!

  7. We all need to be prepared for the strict norms which would be implemented after the travel industry resumes, which are more importantly required also for our own safety.
    Untill we really fine a vaccine to covid19 this fear would always be there in our minds.

    • Shivya Nath says

      True, and that might be the only way to protect local communities as well. Unless a reliable antibodies test comes along. Let’s see what the future holds!

  8. I started my blog, Not a Tourist, simply reflecting on my business travels and the lessons I learned from them. Although not like yours or many travel blogs that refer, encourage or scout out destinations, there is quite a lot to blog about. Many of your blogs also provide things to think about whether traveling or not. Of course, I would love to travel more, but travel and travel blogging will change (as will much of our living).

    • Shivya Nath says

      Absolutely – I think travelling is not just about exploring the sights but so much more than that, and writing about it is essential too. Will check out your work – and yes, let’s see how travel, blogging and other things change in the near future.

  9. Nina | Lemons and Luggage says

    Great post, Shivya, as always! I am also trying to remain positive. I think that this crisis will show which travel writers have what it takes to stick around and who was only in it for the money.

    But I’m not sure if overtourism and cheap flights will really stop. I have a feeling that the opposite might happen as airlines and other companies in the industry will try to recover. Maybe even cities like Venice and Barcelona will now be begging for tourists.

    I see the danger of this with the German newspapers writing headlines like “Will Corona destroy our summer vacations?” It seems like people in wealthier parts of the world are waiting to get back to travel soon. Provided they have not lost their jobs. But if airlines capitalize on this and make good offers travel might be back immediately after restrictions are loosened.

    I also see that some countries that depend on tourism seem to be focused mainly on getting back tourists in their fight against the pandemic. Here in Greece, where tourism makes up 20% of the GDP they are already discussing measures to check tourists at airports even though it’s not even allowed yet. They have also banned hospital staff from talking about the pandemic and the conditions in hospitals, while keeping numbers very low by only testing extreme cases. It seems that the main focus here is making the country look safe so that tourists come back as soon as possible.

    So while I hope for a more sustainable future for tourism, I think that as long as the system of capitalism is still around there’s a danger of even more unsustainable practices.

    • Shivya Nath says

      Wow, I actually hadn’t read much about Greece so far but this is quite alarming. I really hope that the world doesn’t go back to its usual materialistic ways once this crisis is behind this. If this won’t wake us up, what will?

  10. Very thoughtful post. I certainly agree that local based, leisure travel where we perhaps stay longer in one or two places may become the new norm once we can travel again. I also liked the part about animal activities on the road and have thought for some time that we should be a lot more concerned, and also educated, about how we treat animals in the tourism industry, but also how we still can enjoy them in their own environment. Stay safe!

    • Shivya Nath says

      Thanks Linda. I sure hope we’ll learn to treat animals better as we bounce back from this crisis – and protect their habitats in order to ensure our own survival if nothing else!

    • Shivya Nath says

      Thanks Cornelia; always appreciate your thoughts 🙂 I hope we’ll all get through this. I hope you’re staying safe and all is well with your family and friends.

  11. I totally agree that this pandemic is a warning sign from nature to change our ways. I’ve only recently started travel blogging and during this time one question that started rankling in my head has been that how to ensure that the place that we explore and bring to our readers doesn’t go the same way as many other destinations have. It is a time for introspection and making a greater effort to not only travel responsibly but also educate others on how to do so. That should definitely be a focus going forward.

    • Shivya Nath says

      I’m so glad you’re thinking about this too, Suchi. I think responsible travel blogging is the only way forward!

  12. I think we probably need to see how things look a year from now to really get a true sense of the picture – everything is till evolving and the world is adapting as we go along, but I doubt people will ever lose their curiosity about other parts of the world, so reading travel blogs might become more popular while we can’t get away…..travel bloggers probably need to get more creative with their content in the meantime.

    • Shivya Nath says

      I agree – and actually quite enjoying brainstorming ideas to get creative with my content. And yes, it’ll be a while before we’ll see how things really evolve in terms of travel (and travel blogging).

  13. Ranjan says

    Very well articulated Shivya 🙂 As I am very much hopeful that this too shall pass, but it’s high time we introspect our choices and learn from it to create a better future for us and generations to come.

  14. ‘Nice one Shivya!

    What do I think is the future of travel / travel blogging?

    I’m a British expat in Berlin.
    In Germany, I’m known as a travel expert & I’ve been asked about my views on travel in the future. Sadly, they’re similar to yours.

    Local travel first as people are nervous and anxious, and then international travel come 2021 as people have short memories!

    I’ve cancelled all my international travel for 2020! I’ll be supporting my local region of Berlin & Brandenburg and then working my way around North Germany & East Germany as they are the regions closest to me.

    However, you’re right. Something has to give as most destinations can’t cope with over-tourism, or are sick of it re-high prices, disrespect to local culture, customs and even to the locals themselves.

  15. Nicely written, Shivya! You mentioned you wanted to visit Iran this year, and having been to Iran and communicating with people who were hardest hit by the virus, I think what would be interesting for me is to meet the people on the ground and understand how they dealt post-pandemic.

    Beyond that, I think after staying at home for an extended period of time, the coronavirus may have underscored a lot of things that we take for granted. Silence, Solitude and Nature would no longer be looked at the same way. I hope people may choose destinations that far-away from the crowds — afterall “social distancing” is something we learned and maybe they could put it to good use by choosing experiences that offer new perspectives and learning. After cycling in Kyrgyzstan and writing about it in my blog, it has opened my minds to the staggering truth of human inequality and a planet in peril. Travel is probably the best way to open up our mind and doubt it will stop, but it will definitely be changed like what you said!

  16. Krashmita Agarwal says

    I loved the way you keep your thoughts on your blogs. It was my last semester this year and after that I decided to be a travel blogger as travelling for me is meditation. But I don’t know how to start it. How to take a first step? Can you share your views about the time when you started blogging? I also don’t know with such circumstances when will I be able to start my career in travelling.

  17. Thank you, Very good article, Shivya. I recently started a travel blog and during this time the travel crisis has affected me and everyone badly. I hope that it will pass and that things will get better.

  18. I am not worried but there is a little concern and I just wanted to ask this to many travelers. That in this era, in which every one trying to be an traveler and wanting to get paid for this. Is it easier to survive as an travel blogger?

  19. Hi Shivya. Thanks for such a thoughtful article, I’ve just discovered your blog and I love it. I work for a small cultural tour operator and having just been put on furlough, I am worried too at how hard this is going to affect smaller businesses in the industry. I completely agree that domestic tourism will be the first part of the industry to pick up, and this is certainly what my company’s sales were seeing during the unfolding of the crisis. This has inspired me to start up my own travel blog, with the aim of inspiring others to rediscover their local surroundings and perhaps provide some more recommendations further afield for when this is all over. I hope that 2021 will bring renewed interest in “staycations” and the like.

  20. I have noticed people and companies are very scared and now that the curve is flattened where I live, there is so much push to go back to “normal”. The crazy news of this week is Wizzair announcing reopening some of their routes starting with May, with all seats full, including flying to Milan. We will see how this whole thing will develop, since most countries do not allow tourists in yet.
    My hope is that this money grabbing business model will stop or at least be limited, and people will travel more for internal development, mindfully, not just to tick off destinations, because everyone else went there as well. And I really wish that we all start treating our tourist workers better in the process.

  21. Andy says

    I liked the idea of “slow travel,” although I was quite put off by the first line – “I mean, if there’s no travel, there’s no travel blogging, right?”

    Current convention tells us that travel = tourism. It’s fine, it’s an industry that helps tons of people. But perhaps we may need to think deeper about what travel means. If we choose to see it as a journey — that romantic word journey — then I think we will have more inspirations from which we can draw writing ideas.

    And staying in the topic of blogging – I see it as a genre of non-fiction writing/storytelling and much closer to its journal-written-on-the-internet form than its current context related to marketing etc. I think we have to reflect on that idea so we can somehow deflect the impact of the pandemic. I say this because I’ve been seeing a lot of bloggers and influencers struggling because of loss of ads – it’s as if they built their empires on house of cards–algorithms that can be manipulated not even by them, or companies that do not even care about them.

  22. I firmly believe it’s time for all of us to realise how important it is to travel sustainably, and make it the common way of travelling. Hopefully we’ll be able to travel soon and when we do, we need to be more mindful of the way we do it. Great article, Shivya! Enjoyed reading this one 🙂

  23. My hope is that not only will traveling resume soon, but it will do so with a great flourish as a result of people dealing with months of pent-up frustration. I agree it will likely be domestic travel rather than international, but what better opportunity to explore one’s home state/province/country. I’m always astonished when friends admit they haven’t been to popular sights that are literally a 2-4 hour drive from home; maybe this will be the impetus for people to learn more about–and appreciate–their homelands.

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