Road trips after lockdown: Will our travel habits change?

For many, summer holiday plans near and far will have been scuppered for 2020 as a result of Covid-19 - but might this unprecedented global situation change the way in which we travel and holiday in the longer term too?

With the ease of each restriction that was set out by the UK government at the start of lockdown, things are slowly reopening week by week and month by month. Once-a-day exercise became unlimited outdoor exercise and essential travel expanded to include adventures further afield. Slowly, pubs, restaurants and hotels reopened their doors.

It was with the lift on travel restrictions and the tentative reopening of the leisure and tourism industry that had many dreaming of a break away from the humdrum of lockdown life. While flying to far flung destinations feels a little further away, road trips have become a more attractive prospect to many looking to get a taste of a summer holiday. Rental service Zipcar have even reported a rise in weekend car hire of 36% since restrictions have begun to ease - so things are looking up for a UK adventure.

During the peak of the pandemic, air travel was down to a record low worldwide. Even though it's on the increase again, we’re still a long way off our pre-lockdown peak and many people are still reluctant to book flights.

While it may have become a bit of a cliché to say the coronavirus pandemic will transform the way many live forever, it's certainly not unreasonable to suggest it will in the short-term. Experts are even predicting that we might initially shy away from public transportation in favour of car or motorbike travel - with the potential for a jump in the number of short trips within a safe driving or riding distance of peoples’ homes for the time being.

Dr Robert Winter told the LA Times people will naturally be looking to car travel as opposed to air travel for a while:

“If traveling with others in a car, one would assume you know the person that is sitting next to you and you know their health status.

“Car travel has to be safer than airline travel when you factor in controlled boarding/exiting processes, number of people on the airplane, unknown health status of people on the flight, uncooperative children sitting near you, etc.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies also suggested that the use of public transport after lockdown could be discouraged to limit the spread of the virus - so road-tripping via your own means seems like it could be the best and safest option.

Preparing for an adventure and exploring the British countryside on a motorcycle or even in a van or car is certainly an attractive travel option for the remainder of this year. Whether this is the case for years to come will certainly be interesting to discover - and many people might well be desperate to rekindle their travel plans and revisit their bucket lists after a year off. Still, 2020 could well be the year of the staycation as we take our first cautious steps into the wider world - with cars and bikes key to setting the parameters for this year’s holidays.

With not being able to travel for a while, your vehicle may have been sitting in your garage or driveway with nowhere to go. So ensure you're fully insured, give everything a spruce up, carry out all your safety checks and plan a 2020 road trip to remember.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.