I first heard the term “Revenge Travel” this week, as CBS Sunday Morning did a segment on the anticipated travel boom this summer. National Geographic contributor Heather Greenwood Davis defined the phrase for CBS.
“‘Revenge travel’ is the idea that, after a year of being at home, people are gonna get back at the pandemic, and actually get out there and live their best lives while traveling,” she said.
She told the network about the “gray wave” of vaccinated seniors 65+ cranking up their travel plans and anticipates the same wave for younger adults.
I don’t dispute her, but I also don’t like the term “Revenge Travel.” I don’t think it’s getting even with COVID. If anything, I’d compare it to feeding the piranhas at the zoo, or the super weird Zion Dance Party in The Matrix — a frenzy of euphoric activity when the opportunity presents itself.
Or as one friend put it:
I am annoyed that COVID has taken so much but I do just want to enjoy the things I used to enjoy.
What do the numbers say?
A New York Daily News ‘Revenge Travel Summer 2021 Survey’ said that 68 percent of respondents indicated they would travel this Summer, including 25 percent that would “Revenge Travel,” or “travel more than before COVID-19 once the pandemic is officially over.”
My own Google poll of friends and family asked this question: “Do you plan on taking a major vacation this summer? (Summer 2021) Defined as a day’s drive or more, or a plane flight?”
Eighty-three percent said yes and a little over 16 percent said no.
When I asked about what they’d done the summer of 2020, it was about a 66 percent yes/33 no split.
For those taking the leap this summer, their vaccination was a primary reason for more travel. Others didn’t feel like they were in an at-risk demographic.
Some people have been comfortable all along — “Flew several times last year and did multiple trips to Florida beaches,” said one respondent.
It seems that beaches will be a popular destination this summer, along with resorts that tout their ability to provide adequate social distance. A trip to the mountains ran a close second.
Flying was not a concern for the majority of respondents. That seems to gel with what CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg told the morning show. He also addressed the coming price increases.
“[Ticket prices] got to the point of stupid. A month ago, a one-way fare from Los Angeles to New York, nonstop on American, was $90. Today, it’s $203. Next week, it’ll be $278. And by three weeks from now, we’ll be right back to 2019 levels.
For those spending another summer at home, COVID is the main culprit. Although lack of funds, perhaps related to COVID, was also given as a reason.
“I still have a lot of respect for the virus and we will continue to wear masks and minimize the risks we take,” said one respondent.
People still desperately miss travel
This longing to travel again is no surprise to me because I feel it too. Multiple people mentioned the freedom and “just the feeling of being away.” Seeing family was important too.
Now people say that the lack of spontaneity in trip planning dulls some of the previous joy, but they understand the necessity. The ongoing uncertainty of operating hours for attractions and stops is also something that requires more planning, and flexibility.
One respondent looks forward to indoor dining reopening at fast-food restaurants — “During the road trips we’ve taken most have been closed making it inconvenient to stop and eat and go to the restroom.”
Uncertainty is the wild card
In parts of the U.S. and in the world COVID numbers are still very troubling to experts.
A Yahoo News report cited Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from the World Health Organisation who said that for the past eight weeks, COVID totals have been rising, particularly in Brazil and India.
“Last week, new cases of COVID-19 increased for the eighth week in a row, with more than 5.2 million cases reported — the most in a single week so far,” Ghebreyesus said at a press conference.
U.S. states with concerning COVID numbers, according to Yahoo News, include New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Michigan where Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has recommended another state “shut down.”
Still, for vaccinated travelers France will start lifting travel restrictions for visitors from the United States starting next month, French President Emmanuel Macron told CBS News. Yahoo News reports that the Canadians are probably going to extend the closure of their border with the U.S. for another month, but they anticipated the border to be open for summer.
Multiple news reports give the number of currently (completely) vaccinated Americans as 1 in 5. I think that it is this number come summer that will determine a travel boom, vengeful or otherwise. What do you think?
For those who do plan to travel, here are some resources to help you plan: