India has a certain allure that keeps drawing Philippa Kaye back in — so much so that she splits her time between there and her home in Yorkshire. It was India where she was when coronavirus hit. “I had planned a trip to Kashmir, Uttarakhand and then the remote wilds of Arunachal Pradesh, but when lockdown looked imminent, I managed to get a flight back to the UK,” Kaye explains. “I was also planning a trip to Romania this year to see wolves, but that idea was stalled too.” Instead of dwelling on it, she is planning her return. Looking to the future is the only way to get through 2020.
This year has obliterated summer holidays — and a drizzly two weeks in Cornwall just isn’t going to make up for the summer in Ibiza you had dreamed of. Instead, think of 2021. Or even 2022. This summer might be scuppered but pragmatists are thinking of 2022 and organising intrepid trips for then.
Luxury travel companies are seeing a spike in advanced bookings. Mark Allvey, co-founder and CEO of Untold Story Travel, has seen a 20 per cent rise in long-term bookings for luxury trips compared with the same time period last year. “Many clients planning 2021 and 2022 travel are booking a series of trips in one go. We are seeing more requests for road trips, glamping, ranches, sailing and private villas and boutique hotels over large hotels.”
While pre-pandemic travellers tended to book trips up to six months ahead, Nicky Kelvin, head of content at travel website The Points Guy, says post-Covid trips will either be booked “very far into the future” or with only a few days’ notice. James Bell, managing director of Turquoise Holidays, adds that there’s a trend in multi-generational holidays and he has seen several inquiries for 2022. “Around 50 per cent of our inquiries for this type of trip at the moment are for a safari and beach combination, whereas the other 50 per cent tend to be looking for larger villa or suite style accommodation within hotels, in the Maldives, the Seychelles, Mauritius or the Caribbean. These holidays tend to be 10 days in length, often with members of the family flying from different parts of the world.”
The philosophy? Adventure. After months of stasis and frustration, there is something thrilling, not to mention liberating, about planning a trip far away. Plotting it out in advance provides delayed gratification — and gives you the time and space to save money. Need some inspiration? For Kaye, adventure will mean returning to India on a cross-country road trip, or the “four K’s” as the author calls it: Kashmir to Kutch to Kanyakumari to Kohima. It’s a trip she’s been dreaming of for 14 years.
“The trip will include the old city of Ahmedabad, the Rann of Kutch, the wolves and lions of Gujarat, the erotic temples at Khajuraho, searching for tigers in Panna National Park and for the one-horned rhino in Assam and its tea plantations and then the wild east and Nagaland with its remote tribes.”
Author Daisy White has settled on doing a road trip of America’s West Coast with her family in 2022. “Our kids are 10 and 13 so a great age for travel and adventure,” she says. “We have settled on a West Coast road trip for the four of us, taking in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park and Death Valley, not to mention a bit of Hollywood. We reckon it will take us three weeks and we will be doing it on a shoestring, but the memories will be priceless.”
Spanning three continents, author Saurav Dutt has been planning his 40th in 2022 for a while — and has even put down deposits on all of the hotels. “I am starting in Switzerland to see Eric Clapton in concert as a precursor to my 40th before heading to the US. My plans are Los Angeles first, Las Vegas after that. We then move down to Memphis and Nashville, I’m a big Elvis, country, rock’n’roll fan, and then we’ll run through Mississippi. The trip will be rounded off by a visit to Tahiti, and Tetiaroa in the South Pacific.”
Privacy and remote natural landscapes will be a big trend as we ease into the new normal, predicts Pelorus co-founder Jimmy Carroll. “Our clients are already starting to plan trips for 2021, with some planning for 2022,” Carroll says. “There is an interest for unexplored and remote destinations such as Gabon where expansive coastlines meet an abundance of natural beauty and the wild unexplored. Chad, one of Africa’s best-kept secrets, is an under-explored land of dramatic scenery, arid deserts and thriving national parks; the perfect opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.”
Should we be booking, or even dreaming about trips abroad before we’re given the green light to travel? A little daydreaming never hurt, and planning travel far in advance has a slew of mental health benefits, too. Psychologist Lee Chambers says booking a holiday can cause a “spike of excitement” as we visualise ourselves at the destination, and confirming the holiday feels “liberating”. Chambers continues: “Booking a holiday is a form of self-care, even though we don’t always see it that way. Having a holiday in the calendar is a motivator in our everyday lives. The anticipation of going on holiday makes us both happier and more resilient. With holidays conjuring up the joy of new novel experiences or the nostalgia of places well-travelled, we frame holidays with a positivity that we so often reserve for special occasions.”
Certainly, the pandemic will change the way we travel. Dutt says he will savour travel more, while Kaye says it has made her think twice about flying. White adds that she won’t take it for granted in the future. “I had the chance to go to Singapore and San Francisco last year and because I was in the midst of writing another book and on deadline I didn’t go. I totally regret that I didn’t just grab my laptop and jump on the plane now,” White says. “The pandemic has been a wake-up call to appreciate what I have and take opportunities and freedoms when they are offered. But to be safe doing so.”