Remaking the Travel Experience

20 years after 9/11, we’re still moving forward in a world with Covid
A letter from Carrousel Travel's President

As I was watching coverage of the 20th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks it reminded me that this was the last time the country had unity of purpose and resolve. I mourn the lives lost and the brave members of our military that sought to eliminate terrorism.

At that time, we also had national unity in remaking the travel experience to ensure our own and fellow travelers’ safety. I don’t have any illusions of national unity now but want to draw some comparisons to the stress we face in travel and tourism with Covid and the aftermath of 9/11. Twenty years ago, we lost the ability to meet loved ones at the gate, wear our shoes through security, carry large containers of liquid and not be scanned. At first, we resented the extra time and hassle. Now it almost seems second nature. Not really a huge burden to make sure our flights are safe, and we have the freedom to travel.

Now we are faced with a new hurdle to air travel, especially international travel. I just returned from Italy for an inspection of hotels, restaurants, venues and meeting locations for some future groups. What I found in Milan and Lake Como was a booming region that functions well and keeps Covid infections relatively low. They were in the middle of hosting the city wide design conference, the Formula 1 race and the upcoming Fashion Week, the premier fashion event in the world. They have moved on from a pandemic mentality to an endemic model that acknowledges Covid but doesn’t succumb to it. I also saw Italian cooperation and respect for fellow citizens that gives me real optimism. The pasta with fresh truffles, fine red wine and other Italian specialties were as wonderful as ever.

So, what does this new era looks like? Well currently it is hard to exist or travel in Italy without being vaccinated. Italians need to show their QR code for their Green Pass to enter theaters, museums, office buildings, restaurants, etc. American travelers need to show their vaccine card. I just showed a picture of mine from my phone, so I didn’t have to carry it. Italians currently wear masks indoors, so when you walk to your table in the restaurant or go to the toilet you pop on your mask. To enter and return to the US you need a negative test. I did that in the comfort of my home and hotel respectively with the self-administered Abbott antigen test. Simple and easy. That is really the extent of the inconvenience for now. We are even seeing European countries eliminating all restrictions, such as Denmark just implemented.

The way forward requires a realization that if you aren’t vaccinated or unwilling to be vaccinated, international travel may just have to wait. Some relatively simple public health measures may be required in the short term, on airplanes and in the destinations we all long to get back to visiting. Let’s get back out enjoying the world with patience, curiosity, and a thirst for adventure.

And finally, to quote the late Anthony Bourdain who may have said it best:

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

Neal Kraemer
Carrousel Travel