Essential Travel Glossary of Summer 2020
By all means, it’s a baffling challenge to navigate through endless travel updates triggered by the COVID-19 development. Countries are continuously releasing their reconditioned policies meant to untangle the haphazard state of travel and open up their tourism industry. It can go awry - or, if it works out well, we will rediscover travelling as an activity, at least, in the foreseeable period.
While new rules and regulations are lingering over understandable doubts among country authorities, it can be useful to freshen up the Travel Glossary of 2020 to keep up with the new jargon and know your options for this summer.
If you are among optimistic believers looking forward to discovering the world beyond your closest supermarket, check below the travel terms that will determine what might be our future of globetrotting.
Travel bubble & Air Bridge
Simply put, a travel bubble happens when neighbouring countries decide to open their borders to each other, allowing their citizens to move freely within the bubble without needing to quarantine. In other words, it’s an expansion of their quarantine zones to involve more people in the business and travel activities, helping to fix staggered economies. The most likely allies are to happen between countries with a similar situation in handling the COVID-19 cases, particularly, if they managed to contain the spread of the virus within their borders. There are multiple travel bubbles operating already as of mid-May, but the impact of such agreements is yet to be analyzed.
Read more about Travel Bubbles.
Essentially, an air bridge means the same as a travel bubble - it’s a bilateral travel agreement that removes the need for quarantine measures for incoming passengers - but it happens between two countries that don’t necessarily have a border, so the connection is established via air traffic.
Digital health passport (aka immunity passport)
Digital health passport is a certified mobile app which is designed to make it easier for individuals to authenticate their health status and facilitate their safe return to everyday life, work, and travelling after the coronavirus pandemic. The Digital health passport will probably work using a colour system of green, orange and red to indicate whether the individual has tested positive or negative for Covid-19 and, if the person had encountered the virus, his immune system produced antibodies.
Despite being a potential method to prevent further outbreaks, this digital document raises questions about its efficacy. The main disputes concern the privacy issue of the current technology (usually a QR code or barcode) employed in the existing digital health passports, as there is evidence that sensitive personal data and information can be hacked. Several companies around the world are working along with governments to build a more secure and encrypted system that can be integrated into our daily life without a fear of being compromised.
If theory comes to practice, the digital health passport could become an instrumental tool in building up our confidence to freely restart travelling.
Essential & Non-essential International Travel
We have been seeing these terms quite often since the beginning of the lockdowns as authorities around the world were advising against all but essential travel. Interestingly enough, it’s hard to track down a unified definition of what can be considered essential or non-essential travel. Instead, it’s a personal responsibility of each individual to determine whether their journey is absolutely required. This decision can differ from person to person, and it’s expected that an individual takes into consideration official travel advice and the risks involved.
For simplicity, non-essential travel can be narrowed down to travelling to a location, other than the primary residence for reasons that can be postponed or cancelled. As an example, holiday travel is not considered as essential, whereas repatriation or freight transport (including by air, ship, road and rail) is regarded to be ‘essential movement’.
We also highly encourage you to monitor the Coronavirus travel advisories, restrictions and update from your local authorities and government.
New technologies are expected to come along with updated travel regulations, and one of the most visible changes will be, as predicted by researchers and experts, a shift to touchless travel. This transformation will take place across all touchpoints normally appearing on the travel journey, from airport entrance gates to accommodation check-in desks. The main idea behind this concept is to eliminate touching surfaces and personal documents to reduce the risk of transmitting the infection.
How can it be ensured? Very likely, that all touchscreen devices in airports and accommodation venues will be replaced with the biometrics systems with face recognition for identity verification. That can include such journey points as self-service check-in and baggage drop-off, custom control, transfers, boarding, and baggage claim. Other innovations might include gesture control, touchless document scanning and voice commands.
Local travel & Slow travel
By and large, tourism is a driving force for many economies around the globe, and in spite of the unsolved pandemic issues, many countries are willing to open up and receive tourists already this summer.
Those of us who will be brave to depart on holidays when lockdowns are partially or fully lifted up, might consider a more in-depth travelling known as local travel. Simply put, it's a lasting immersion into local cultures, connection with locals during the trip, with a goal to learn and understand more about the place of your visit.
It links together with the slow travel approach that can be applied to any length of travel, but benefits the most when you take a longer trip and can stay in apartments or holiday cottages to settle in for a while and gain an insight into how locals live their lives. Slow travel is an intentional and conscious experience of getting out there to connect with yourself, people around you, and the world as a whole. It’s about slowing down to appreciate the uniqueness of the moments you are living through, and freeing yourself from the pressure of seeing everything in one trip.
Both concepts aren’t new, but they can gain a fresh perspective in the wake of the increased demand for avoiding traditionally crowded tourist paths.
Over the recent years, more and more companies are removing the physical presence of employees in an office as a mandatory work condition and allowing them to work remotely. The last couple of months have only reestablished this practice as viable and effective, with the majority of us being forced to work from home and handling it, to the surprise of many, quite successfully.
So-called workations is a term devised to take remote work to another level and make it even more appealing, yet it’s important to draw a line between “workations” and another hyped concept of “digital nomading”. Digital nomads work remotely independent of their location and maintain a nomadic lifestyle over a long period of time or even permanently, whereas “workations” is a form of short-term remote work from a new location available for full-time employees by mutual agreement with a company.
It should be noted that this concept has both vociferous fans and cynical critics. The former find it advantageous to immerse in a new environment to get invigorated and inspired by the novelty of surroundings while keeping on track at work. The later argue that workations can deliver below average results both professionally and personally: the distraction of a new place won’t let you work efficiently, and the burden of work tasks won’t let you enjoy a new environment to the fullest.
By any means, if remote work is our default option for the near future, then workations can be a good option to combine all - social distancing, travelling, and working - in one and keep your spirit up.