Holiday travel is an essential ingredient in quality of life. However, the contribution of holidays to quality of life could be improved in two ways: by optimising the decisions people make when planning and undertaking their holidays, and by travel industry testing and implementing innovative experience products which touch customers' emotions.
But how can we improve our quality of life if we still can’t travel? And how could or should we plan our upcoming summer holidays? We asked our colleague and Experience Lab researcher Ondrej Mitas and he came up with the following ten tips on planning a holiday in pandemic conditions.
1. What do you need from a holiday?
The fact that you may not be able to holiday they way you are used to, or the way social media says you should, is an opportunity to reflect on why you go on holiday in the first place. What about your daily life makes you need a holiday? What needs to happen on that holiday for it to be a success? In answering these questions, it's easy to give very superficial examples of things that aren't possible, like ’go to a rock concert’, and get depressed. You need to dig deeper. What is it about a rock concert that you miss? Hanging out with friends? The inspiration of new music? Forgetting about the daily shit? Because those things are still possible – just in a different context than a rock concert.
2. Accept uncertainty and the new normal
It's hard to predict what the summer will bring. There will be social distancing and face masks. Stay used to that. It's hard to predict what else will be possible. Stay used to that, too. Resisting it will only cloud your decisions.
3. Dare to dream
Imagining things you long for, whether they are possible or not, can help you identify your own priorities and determine scenarios. How much are you willing to put up with hassles, to pay, to wait? You have to dream in order to figure these things out. But once you have identified your priorities, stop the daydreaming and make realistic choices.
4. Fewer choices
A hidden blessing of the pandemic has been to reduce the choices we have in our holidays. Wait, what? That's right. Research by thesis student Olivia Niemeyer has demonstrated that in pre-pandemic conditions, the travel industry confronted potential clients with far too many choices. The fact that possibilities are limited actually increases the chances that you will be happy with the choice you made – as long as you focus on the experience you are having, rather than restrictions that made other experiences impossible.
5. Plans can change
You may have to wait to depart, depart suddenly when conditions improve before they worsen again, or return home early when they do worsen. That is the risk of holidaying during a pandemic. Accepting this long before the holiday begins will help you focus on the experience itself once it's here.
6. Trust no one
If haven't been infected or vaccinated yet, a COVID-19 infection would make a terrible holiday souvenir. Remember––this is a disease of social contact in enclosed spaces. So, avoid social contact in enclosed spaces. No matter how much you love the person you want to kiss or chat with for hours. There is no amount or love or trust that can defend against transmitting the virus. Instead, meet outside, keep distance, and mask up to show how much you care for each other's well-being.
7. Get a vaccine
I really wish it were as easy as that, but it will be a while before enough vaccines are produced and distributed to be available to us all. If you have the opportunity, though, don't hesitate. For a time, a vaccination certificate is likely to be an important ’license’ to get us across borders and into activities.
8. Behave yourself
Holidays are an opportunity for us to let go of daily routines and worries. We spend the money we've saved, eat greasy sticky food, stay up late, and generally relax. However, we destroy the treasure we are enjoying––the destination, and the people who live there––if we also relax our sense of respect, our empathy, and our compliance with local laws. This also counts for the pandemic. Different countries have different approaches to combatting the virus. Follow the regulations in spirit, and to the letter.
9. Make changes permanent
Recognise that over the long term, the climate crisis will bring back some familiar restrictions from this pandemic. We can't fly halfway around the world every year. Now because of the pandemic, tomorrow because of the climate. People are picking up new habits. We exercise, we get to know nature, we visit cultural heritage nearby and get to know our own country. Soon, there will be more options. Don't lose the positive new habits for the sake of doing anything and everything that's possible again.
10. Go on holiday
Even in the strictest lockdowns in this country (the Netherlands), some form of tourism experience has always been allowed, thank goodness, and safe. Don't write off the idea of holidaying just because it can't be ’as usual’ this year. Everyone benefits from shifting out of the daily grind for a while. Do it.