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  • Writer's pictureBryan Jun

the travel BOOM

I haven't gone anywhere since my trip to New York ended on Monday, but I thought I'd take some time to reflect on the travel industry as a whole and our generation's (beyond the post-COVID boost) obsession with "exploring oneself" and posting Instagram stories with a unique location tag.

Many sociology and anthropology experts describe our generation (by our, I'm just talking about "young people" - I think you can be 40 and still be stuck in this mindset) as the experience-obsessed generation. I'm not going to bring up any statistics here, largely because I don't know any off the top of my head and most of what I'm about to talk about may be factually wrong, but the perception is that we are hyper-focused on the experience rather than building equity. We're more likely to spend our paychecks on living in AirBnb after AirBnB rather than investing in house, be okay living paycheck to paycheck as we go from one rooftop bar to the next, and have more subscription based expenses than 401k contributions (which I would assume is factually not true given our sudden obsession with personal finance and the FIRE movement, but perception is still one part of the truth).

It's hard to avoid the COVID conversation - we've been cramped up in our highschool bedrooms with both internal fears (if you're someone that's been hyper sensitive about COVD, which frankly I never was), external reputations (people pointing fingers if you're traveling at such an "unprecedented time," which I actually think has merit, but also a topic for another post), and literal infrastructure limitations (remember when the world was actually shut down unless you were in Florida?) I remember back in October a man deeply rooted in the stock market told me that the only investments he was making centered around travel and leisure and recommended me to look at airlines and cruise ship companies, noting that there's no doubt in his mind that these will come back, if not boom even more than before because of how much people missed traveling (if I listened to him I probably would've retired by now). In hindsight this recommendation was so obvious - of course the world would bounce back, people would get sick and tired of putting on masks and staying six apart, but hindsight is always 2020. I'm not surprised that the people that were the most anal about keeping CDC restrictions a year ago are actually those that travel the most now - but as I said before, that's for another post.

Bottom line, an era of intense travel and vacation is upon us and it probably won't stop for awhile. The widely accepted and enforced work from home policies will only aggregate such trends, as people are no longer bound to their offices and can go on work-cations where they are "online" but facing the beaches of Hawaii while on Zoom meetings (and their surreal view virtual wallpapers are actually not virtual). Many people took advantage of this even before the vaccine distribution, making use of record low flight prices, incredible AirBnb and Hotel deals as well as the lack of people in general in touristy places without the need for long waits and frustrations. As we now fully enter the "end of COVID" since the CDC, Anthony Fauci, Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo all of a sudden told us it's okay to go outside without masks, we'll all jump on the travel train and almost feel like there's an obligation to go on vacation.

I do think there's a point where the boom will plateau and as with most things in human life, we'll settle down from the high of "we took travel for granted" and return to our ungrateful lives. It's the very nature of human beings that we're never fully satisfied and we're always looking for the next thing to excite us - and it's truly relative. I remember exactly a year ago, my favorite activity of the week was going to the local grocery store and picking up a box of pasta, as it was the only "going out" activity I could partake in. As restrictions go away, so do our tendencies to be satisfied at lower stake activities, and I think this is a perfect reflection of life in general and how we progress (or regress depending on how you look at it) as we move up the ladder (at least financially or in regards to "power.") There will always be things we strive to achieve and by the time we've achieved it or partook in what we projected to be the "end goal" of satisfaction, we'll be too busy looking for the next big thing.

I know you probably expected a post describing all the fun plans I have for the summer and it somehow burst into a philosophical discussion of humans being never satisfied (perhaps my blog will never satisfy you either!) I'm planning to have one long vacation with my parents in typical resort-at-the-beach style and perhaps a golf weekend with the boys in the East Coast. I sincerely hope all the variants that Fauci is mentioning doesn't hit too hard because I'm not looking forward to being happy with a weekly trip to Trader Joe's again. Let me know if you have any travel recommendations.

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