My 2020 Travel Year In Review? It was a dumpster fire. It was the disappearance of the dinosaurs. It was an entire civilization wiped out by disease. It was meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife. Thanks, Alanis. The entire multi-billion dollar travel business essentially went OUT of business in nine months. Why? Because we were all at home trying to figure out how to log on to our children’s online school platform(s).
If you think I’m making fun of the millions of people directly or indirectly affected physically, emotionally or financially by the Coronavirus, then stop reading right now because you don’t know me very well. I am heartbroken by these circumstances. Human suffering tests my faith in God and in humanity on an almost daily basis. I am a father of two young children, I am divorced, I live in one of the most expensive states in the United States, I own my own business and I travel for a LIVING promoting how wonderful it is to travel! Suffice it to say, when I say the travel industry has been decimated and the true repercussions of 2020 won’t really be known for at least five years, I know what the hell I’m talking about.
Hotels went out of business, shop owners closed their dream business, resorts shuttered, restaurants stopped serving, airlines stopped flying, cruise ships stopped sailing, beach towns were empty, a lot of people lost their jobs because the entire travel infrastructure was crushed under the weight of regulation, reality and fear...much like my bathroom scale and most-likely worse.
But I know you’re not complaining and neither am I. I have it so much better than a lot of other people worldwide. A lot. I’m grateful for what I have. I am grateful I can sit here writing this Year In Review in good health, in good spirits in the comfort of my home office surrounded by my children, family and friends.
What makes 2020 even worse is it was right after 2019. That was one of the best years for the travel and tourism industry. But the foundation was beginning to crack long before the pandemic. We started hearing whispers of “too many people in Venice because of the cruise ships”. “Really, it's THAT expensive to go to Walt Disney World?”, “Are you kidding, my ass is wider than the seat I bought in coach”. “Tainted booze in Mexico?” “All the crappy dog food I can eat at this all-inclusive?” and so on. Some travel companies in the travel industry turned a blind eye, shoveled out sub-par products, services and experiences and kept raking in the profits. Each and every company (and you know who you are) that didn’t put humanity, its employees, our planet and the customer first in every strategic decision is hurting right alongside every other travel company that did.
Oh, and we participated in this too. We took those trips. But, some people (not you, of course) got kicked off airplanes for fighting, got drunk and fell overboard on a cruise ship, littered in a National Park, trashed a hotel room, went off roading in a Nissan Sentra rental, claimed your precious dog was a service animal, tried to game the system, went deeper into debt by charging a vacation, died falling off a cliff for a selfie, took more than what was fair, wore flip flops on a commercial flight, disrespected someone else’s culture, were rude to customer service agents, talked during a live theatre performance, didn’t tip the doorman, the server, the bartender or the housekeeper, were entitled, do I need to go on? Travel is for everyone but in my opinion a lot of people made some really dumb decisions while on vacation. Fortunately, it's a small percentage in the big travel picture.
The whole thing was a dumpster fire in 2020 which was set ablaze in 2019.
Good news...2021 is upon us. I’ve dedicated my entire life to travel and I couldn't be more excited for what is on the horizon. Because like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, travel will return, bigger, stronger and better than ever. Travel as we KNOW it, is dead. So long. The new travel normal is one we will all define. I’m certain we’ll be discussing expectations of both travel product providers and the public in the coming weeks.
For now, enjoy the holiday season and let’s buckle up for a fantastic 2021 in travel!
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!