Post covid Gap Year travel
FIVE WAYS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS CHANGED THE GAP YEAR EXPERIENCE
Travel and education, two sectors inextricably linked to the Gap Year experience, were both completely turned on their head by the pandemic. Whilst online learning and local travel admirably filled the void left by restrictions on movement, they could replace the value gained from face-to-face teaching, social interactions and experiencing new countries and cultures.
As the world rapidly reopens, we take a look at what changes the pandemic has had on Gap Year travel of the future.future.
Travel less and travel better...
After an extended period of lockdown, the demand for travel has hit record levels, the difference is going to be how people travel. Rising operational costs at home and abroad brought about by the pandemic has led to higher prices, and new protocols in airports, planes, buses and hotels involves way more hassle and a lot more planning. Suddenly, short breaks and last minute getaways overseas become less appealing with people instead looking to travel less and make it count when they do.
For Gap Years, this means people spending considerably more time researching their options and seeking out unique travel programs that offer a once in a lifetime experience. As well as that, more value will be placed on assistance navigating the everchanging restrictions and protocols, as well as reassurance that suitable contingency plans are in place in case the unexpected occurs. For this reason, an increasing number of people are looking for the peace of mind experience and support offered by group travel programs as opposed to do it yourself.
Sustainable Travel Trends...
The meteoric rise of the climate emergency into people’s conscious has forced people to take stock of their actions and think about the impact it has on the planet. The pandemic has given the world the chance to stop, rethink and reset the narrative and agenda around environmental awareness. With so much collective momentum around it, people are increasingly able to see how their actions can genuinely contribute to the cause.
In the case of Gap Year travel this means a seismic shift towards responsible travel practices.
More so than ever before, choosing travel programs that have robust environmental policies and which support local businesses are becoming the norm.
Travel and Wellbeing...
If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it is the importance of looking after ourselves better. One of the many benefits of taking a Gap Year is that it is a chance to step off the treadmill of formal education for a year and embark on a journey of exploration and self discovery. The additional stress of the pandemic on students has been immense and the need to focus on wellness, fitness and health has never been greater to help prepare them for higher education and work.
The result of this trend is that Gap Year students are looking for travel experiences that have outdoor education and physical and mental health enhancement built in. Adventures that take people to off grid locations such as rainforests and mountains where they can get far away from the stresses of normal life are becoming even more popular, and for very good reason!
When the world was in lockdown, our lives were transformed overnight as we adjusted to a new way of working and socialising online. Whilst in many ways it was incredible to see how well people were able to adjust to this new way of life, humans are by nature social creatures and the desire to travel and experience new customs and cultures remained strong.
That being said, technology can be a powerful tool for good and travel businesses are learning to adapt and incorporate areas of technology into their business to enhance their customer experience. As well as streamlining the booking process and introducing contactless solutions where appropriate, Gap Year companies are looking at virtual briefing sessions and online theory training for diving and leadership courses, to better prepare students for their program enabling them to make the most of their experience when they arrive.
Where to from here?...
The world has changed and the Gap Year experience is adjusting as it has done so many times before to ensure it meets the needs of the Gap Year student. As priorities change and people look for more holistic experiences to complement their studies and prepare them for higher education and work, more and more will look to a Gap Year as a way to achieve this. Those of us that work within the Gap Year industry will continue to learn and adapt to provide students with the range of experience they seek and continue to help them on their path to becoming global citizens.