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  • Writer's pictureTania Wee

Travel Trends: Malaysians travelling into 2022

What does travel look like in a post-Covid19 world? As the world opens its borders once more, albeit cautiously, we see an evolved mindset and travel style of holiday-goers in Malaysia which may translate into how we see and explore the world when international travel is permitted more freely.

Statecation & Staycations

Something about being kept indoors for almost two years has shone a light on how we see our own country. Passport-free, domestic travel surged with the opening of interstate travel and even through Malaysians can travel abroad with SOPs, that surge has yet to fade out.

Popular local destinations such as Penang, Genting and Langkawi are seeing hordes of local tourists flocking to their streets and attractions with the roads and parking lots packed to the brim with cars. People are keeping their trips simple, short and intimate with family and friends and usually taking up a weekend. The key to a short staycation is the quality of the experience and the social interactions that travellers have been deprived of for so long.

Travel Less, Travel Better On the other hand, if the opportunity to travel abroad does arise, travellers will be taking longer and more enriching trips spanning between 10 days to two weeks. This is because of the tedious process of travel restrictions and health protocols. They want to get their money and time’s worth of experiences. People want easy access, no-hassle travel.

One such experience on the rise amongst travellers will be small-ship cruising. Smaller ships are vastly better for the environment and local communities you’ll visit when compared with travelling aboard a large vessel, reaching smaller, less-visited harbours that aren’t overwhelmed by cruise crowds. Ponant for example takes you into the stunning island gems of Seychelles such as Descoches Island, Grande Soeur and Praslin Island.

Apart from a unique travelling experience from destination to destination, small ship cruising also makes for a much more enjoyable experience for travellers too. Many small ship cruises are accompanied by experts in subjects that range from photography to marine biology who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and skills.

Secluded Holidays

Say goodbye to holiday destinations with large crowds as more people are in need to escape to places devoid of people. Shopping malls, theme parks, large hotels and bustling cities will most likely be low on the wishlist as travel reopens for Malaysians. According to Conde Nest Traveller, more travellers will be turning to quiet coastal, lakeside, mountain and rural locations. For those who can afford them, the more isolated the better. This means sea voyages, hotel takeovers and island escapes.

The Maldives is the ultimate destination for seclusion. Unless you are on the mainland of Male, their luxurious 5 star hotels and resorts are on their own islands offering minimal interactions with anyone outside of the resort and absolute bliss on an island heaven.

Dream Trip planning

After two years of lockdown, travellers will be planning for more once-in-a-lifetime adventures in the next few years. Living through a pandemic has seen people re-evaluating their priorities and mindset towards travel and how they see the world.

The time spent locked at homes has been spent planning and envisioning the bucketlist you would never consider post-pandemic. Those who can afford it will be looking to more exotic destinations and unique once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as taking the Grand Trans Siberian train from Mongolia to Russia or even taking a cruise to Antarctica or the Arctic.

Iceland in particular has seen a high demand in visitors to see the Northern Lights while many are realising that the Canadian Rockies is best viewed from the comfort of a train moving along the countryside.

The Return of Travel Agents

Once upon a time, the era of mobile apps and connectivity might have led to the demise of travel agents. But in a post pandemic world, there is a resurging demand for travel agencies and consultants. Thanks to fast-changing Covid-19 testing protocols, border restrictions, shifting airline schedules, rental car scarcity, and limited hotel inventory, even the most confident jet-setters are turning to the pros for help.

Travel agents are ones with their fingers on the pulse of travel and one ear to the ground with connections to airlines, hotels and on-ground tour operators. The Langkawi Travel Bubble in particular has placed the local travel agents at the forefront of business with eager travellers from abroad wanting to return to Malaysia.

From the standpoint of a traveller, it’s always an assurance to have someone to sort out your travel arrangements should anything go south. With the constant changing procedures and emerging new variants, frequent change of plans seem to be part of the new norm of travel.

Whichever kind of traveller you are, it’s without a doubt that travel is no longer just about the destination or just getting somewhere. Coming out of such a long period of constraints and limitations, 2022 will be the year we wring every bit of richness and meaning out of our experiences and how far we are willing to go to make this happen.

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