What travel will look like in 2021

January 3, 2021

As the New Year begins, with plenty of stifled demand for travel from 2020 and the promise of a vaccine being widely available, we wonder if 2021 will be a busy year for travel. After all, the world is still full of fascinating places – no matter how hard getting there may seem. We asked some devout travel enthusiasts about what they expect travel to be like in 2021 and beyond, and if they think that travel, as they have known it, will change. We also asked them about the places they’d want to visit this year if they got the chance. Here’s what they had to say:

Adnan Rehmat

 Perast, Montenegro. Photo by John Vincent on Unsplash

In the developed world, including Europe, the Americas, the Gulf and some parts of Asia, I believe that within six months of a vaccine in the market (which should be a few weeks away there at the most) there will be a significant turnaround in the travel industry. But in our part of the world, things will remain mostly messy and unreliable for most of 2021 as most of the population will not be inoculated due to vaccine access and supply issues. I would like to resume where I left off: I wanted 2020 to complete my tally of all 52 European countries visited, by going to Kosovo and Montenegro. I will go if I feel safe enough – and if they’ll let me in.

– The writer is a political analyst and media development specialist. He can be reached at [email protected]

Ali Syed

The Red Sea, Egypt. Photo by Eugene Foschan on Unsplash

Everything will depend on the efficacy of Covid vaccines rollout. The travel industry will change, perhaps for good. Valid vaccination records will be as important as passports or visas. There will be a risk of travel embargo against countries that are not properly vaccinated. Those looking to avoid vaccination will face serious problems in being allowed to travel freely like before. Be ready for flexible travel as the next time any signs of any pandemic emerge, the response will be swift and lockdowns tighter.

Egypt would be my first destination of choice as the country is a crucible of history, both pre- and post-Islamic. It is the largest country in the Middle East with a rich culture and popular cuisine. Plus the Red Sea is an amazing diving destination. As soon as it is safe to travel, we would be on the first flight available.

– The writer is a finance professional based in Dubai.

Aliya Salahuddin

Hawkes Bay, Karachi. Photo by Ali Kazim on Unsplash

They say travelling itself (the plane ride, for instance) isn’t very dangerous – so I think some of it will return in 2021, but it will continue to look very dull. I expect it to be mainly essential travel. There really isn’t any point in travelling for leisure when restaurants and museums are shut in half the world, metro use is considered dangerous and crowds are to be avoided. Once travel becomes possible, I will mainly want to go home to Pakistan. To meet family and friends. No mountains, ski slopes or lovely beaches for me. Just Karachi.

The writer, a former producer with Geo TV, now lives in Italy

Hafsah Sarfraz

Valldemossa, Spain. Photo by Patrick Baum on Unsplash

I personally don’t think the situation is getting any better before the end of 2021 or perhaps 2022 so travel will be challenging next year too. It’s going to take us years to get back to the pre-Covid state (without masks, PCR tests and the fear/anxiety and paranoia involved with taking a flight right now).

Ah, there’s so much I want to see and go back to when things get normal. London and New York where I have lived and spent a lot of weekends respectively, Southern Spain, Japan and a short pilgrimage. But from the looks of it, 2021 won’t be the year for all of this. Realistically speaking, I’m hoping to explore Hunza and Chitral in spring 2021 and perhaps Spain towards the end of the year. Crossing fingers.

The writer is a communications professional, journalist, and photographer

Mehvish Ahmed

Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Sladjana Karvounis on Unsplash

Well, right now I think we all have our eyes set on the vaccines. The fact that doctors around the world have already started receiving their first doses sounds promising. I think aiming to travel by Easter might be too ambitious, but I feel optimistic that by summer more people will get vaccinated and travel restrictions, at least in the EU, will ease. We may still be stuck with sanitisers and masks, but a bit of freedom to go around will be refreshing. How fast the world opens depends on how fast nations are able to vaccinate themselves. The advent of Covid-19 has made me stop fixating on a bucket list. The sheer pleasure of walking around carefree in my own city is all I long for. I want the constant anxiety to end and life to go back to normal. Once that happens, I’ll go wherever life takes me. And if life is kind enough to take me somewhere in the Nordics, I’ll grab the opportunity with open arms.

– The writer is a traveller and runs an Instagram blog called Safarnamay.

Muna Khan

Beijing, China. Photo by Ling Tang on Unsplash

I worry about new health-based xenophobia which may lead to visa processes being determined by big pharma. And Pakistanis, already in the league of worst passports, may be discriminated against if they don’t have the XYZ pharma’s Covid vaccine. While I’d love to see this new form of restriction benefit the “less-travelled nations”, I worry that it might impact their healthcare systems. Do we really want anti-vaccers from developed nations visiting Pakistan and spreading illnesses among the most vulnerable? I think I watched too many grim TV shows during the pandemic which is why I’m preparing for the worst. I’m so grateful to have travelled four times in 2020, twice during the pandemic – all motivated by the desire to be with friends and family. I believe I’ll probably go somewhere within the country during spring break because that’s most feasible. I imagine I’ll take the vaccine by Sinopharm so I’m hoping I’ll be able to travel to China in the summer. I’ve been wanting to recreate images from my childhood in Beijing in 1981 for a personal project and next year seems like a good time to just do it – if the heavens allow, of course.

– The writer has been a journalist since 1995, largely in Pakistan, some in Vietnam and the UAE. She teaches journalism at CEJ in Karachi and is threatening to write a book about her travels

Niaz Akbar

Kilchurn Castle, Lochawe, Dalmally, Scotland. Photo by Connor Morrison on Unsplash

With a number of vaccines in the works, travel may hopefully pick up by mid-2021, once the weather is warmer. But travel itself shall perhaps never be as carefree as it was in the pre-Covid days, what with requirements of vaccine certificates, Covid tests, masks, on-board precautions, no-go zones etc. So, it will probably be travel with some uncomfortable trappings that will take time getting used to. But for the intrepid traveller, that should be no bar. My go-to destination for 2021 is definitely Scotland. I have explored England extensively over the past few years but so far all I have seen of Scotland is the wonderful city of Edinburgh, from where we usually catch our flight back home after driving around England. So, I feel it is now time to give Scotland the attention it deserves: the home of lochs, peaks, castles and William Wallace (remember the amazing Mel Gibson?), Scotland is as historical as it is beguiling.

The writer is a development professional and an avid traveller. He blogs at www.travelpangs.com and can be reached at [email protected]

Rumana Husain

 Paris, France. Photo by Anthony Delanoix

With masks and all other precautions in place, I think more and more people will be travelling in 2021 even though the virus may not disappear any time soon. It has been a most frustrating year for regular travellers and they can’t wait to be vaccinated and get on a jet plane either for business or for leisure. My personal peeve has been the cancellation of our trip to Brazil in July 2020, which had been minutely planned by our son and daughter-in-law. I look forward to our visit to Paris to meet our daughter and her family, as it will soon be a year since seeing our young grandson, who had visited us in Karachi in February 2020 with his mother. I would also like to visit the Chitral valley in the summer, which has so far been an elusive travel destination.

– The author is an illustrator and educator, she may be reached at [email protected]

Shuyeb Gandapur

 Nuuk, Greenland. Photo by Philip Gielda on Unsplash

At the beginning of the first lockdown back in March, people believed it would be a matter of a couple of months, so most adhered to the rules diligently. Vehicular traffic became sparse and the air became cleaner. One observed new birds visiting the garden and the sound of their chirping felt more pleasant with less noise pollution. Nocturnal foxes started roaming the streets during daytime. And I realised how stunningly beautiful the area I live in is. As I took to walking more, I discovered so many new walking paths in the gorgeous rolling hills of Chilterns that I didn’t know existed just a stone’s throw from where I live. It was all lovely for a few months, but then the spread of the virus surged and waned and the urge to fly away kicked back in - the urge to go to faraway places, where the sound of alien languages is heard, where unfamiliar food is sold in the markets, where merchants accept another currency, where different vehicles ply on the roads. With that in mind, whenever travel restrictions ease in the New Year, I would want to travel to a place that is as dissimilar to the UK as it can be, and the names that come to my mind are North Korea, Turkmenistan and Greenland.

 The writer is a freelance contributor based in London. He is an avid traveller and shares stories from his travels on his Instagram @ShueybG

What travel will look like in 2021