Mink Machine

The travel bubble in a pandemic

In these troubled times of covid-19, global traveling has come to an almost complete stop after decades of ever-increasing growth. Last year saw a global movement in the climate crisis, even leading to the new term of “flight shame”. While the travel industry was still reeling back from this, covid-19 came in for a sucker punch like a furious Ivan Drago.

In a way, something was bound to happen. The global flights were increasing each year with even darker predictions for the future, so it was quite obvious that such an impact on the environment would have dire consequences.

But it still took actions from activists such as Greta Thunberg to make people slowly come to an understanding of the very real threat we are facing. Some were even more harsh than Greta in their preaching. In the book “Learning to Die in the Anthropocene” from 2015, Roy Scranton wrote that we’re already screwed when it comes to climate change on the planet and made a compelling case of the issues.

But still the airlines kept flying, until covid-19 came along and shut it all down in an instant.

I experienced the infamous “dot-com bubble” twenty years ago and saw firsthand its disruptive effects on the entire industry of software. How will the pandemic state of covid-19 affect the travel industry in the years to come?

Airport I even miss the familiar stench of Frankfurt airport.

Seasoned travelers such as Richard Quest and George Downs describe their travel experiences in this new world order. Their tales are like something straight out of a Hollywood disaster movie, where the face masks and extreme safety measures are a stark reminder of how the travel bubble has been roughly put to the test.

Apart from the obvious disaster situation for airlines and travel-related companies, what does this mean for the travel bloggers, instagrammers and influencers who rely on the travel lifestyle for their income?

Schiphol Lonely times at Schiphol airport.

Many seem to agree that this is a time for productivity in the face of adversity, such as Chris Guillebeau and Rolf Potts sharing their thoughts on the subject.

But the reality is harsh. Pete Rojwongsuriya shares how covid-19 has directly impacted his revenue and Leif Pettersen recently wrote about the death of travel writing.

Most seem to agree on one thing: travel as we knew it is already long gone. The industries of airlines and travel-related companies will most likely continue to suffer for a very long time. But will the travel bubble burst?

Helsinki The glossy facade is fading in Helsinki airport.

Many aspects of travel have to do with people being brought in close proximity with others in confined spaces, such as airports and plane cabins, which is obviously not compatible with covid-19.

Add to this the absence of other popular social activities such as concerts and sport events, and this year is one of the strangest we’ve seen in a generation.

To add insult to injury, all this is slowly turning into the new normal as we are silently shifting our baselines. Being resilient to changes is a human trait, but this summer feels like an episode of Black Mirror that never ends.


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Fever Ray
Kuala Lumpur