Travel in the Time of Corona

Source: The Washington Post

As we settle into our second month of social distancing, a lot of people are starting to get stir crazy. While some are fighting the feeling with ill-advised protests, others are daydreaming about when we’ll be given the green light to travel again. Being an avid traveler myself, I’m itching to book my next weekend getaway or score another cheap flight deal. Of course, social media has become a mirror for these sentiments by creating funny travel memes, virtual tours of historic museums and landmarks, and allowing people to make love connections around the world.

One particularly interesting example is Airbnb’s transition to online experiences. About two weeks ago, Airbnb sent an email stating, “Let’s try something new together” sharing a variety of virtual experiences from meeting dogs at Chernobyl to a class on what it’s like to be an Olympic bobsledder. The experiences range in price, with an average of about $19 and they are incredibly diverse. Perhaps you fancy a meditation with a Buddhist monk or a virtual wine tasting with an expert from Portugal? Airbnb has 75+ of these experiences waiting for you and your family. While they can’t replace an in-person adventure, they are definitely a quick quarantine fix for those of us who are running out of things in our Netflix queue.

The online experiences banner from Airbnb’s website

Humor has also been a popular form of escapism during COVID-19, and as people realize their spring and summer vacations are being canceled, their creativity at dealing with the sadness and disappointment has shone through. On TikTok there has been a new popular trend – the filter challenge. Videos of people swiping through the city-named Instagram filters have been flooding the app with captions like “When your 2020 travel plans don’t work out…” and “How to travel during quarantine”. Others have been showing off their photoshop skills to travel to far away places like Patagonia and Spain. Even one of my friends did this with an Instagram post of her “in” Puerto Rico for the popular #TravelAtHome hashtag. With 77% of respondents in a recent survey sharing that they had canceled or rescheduled travel plans because of the coronavirus, it appears we’re all coping with this the best way we can.

Unfortunately, health experts and governments are still unsure when we’ll be able to travel again. Companies like Scott’s Cheap Flights are not advertising flights before July and many airlines have waived change and cancellation fees for the time being. Some people are hopeful that we’ll be able to travel within 3 – 6 months but only time (and science) will tell. Until then, we can dream about our next getaways… or recreate them in our living room.

About Kayleigh Smoot

My name is Kayleigh and I love all things social media. If I had to pick a favorite, I'd probably go with Twitter, but I also love Instagram (and miss Vine!). I'm interested in how the relationship between social media and technology interacts to shape our lives from day to day silliness to fostering change and revolutions. Follow me on Twitter @KayleighSmoot and on Instagram at @kayleighxamanda
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