Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Plan Your Bucket List Trip
Why Now is the Perfect Time to Plan Your Bucket-List Trip
Travel will be back. And when it is, you'll be ready...
This week, it occurred to me that adjusting to this new way of being feels a lot like working through the stages of grief outlined by psychologists Kübler and Ross. First, there was denial (this coronavirus thing can’t possibly be all that serious, can it?), followed by anger (I’m so furious that we are all having to endure this horrific situation), depression (I’m not equipped to handle everything this pandemic is throwing at me – physically, emotionally, or financially), and bargaining (surely it’s ok to see friends as long as we meet outdoors and keep a safe distance?). The final stage – acceptance – is a work in progress for most of us.
Personally, I found myself feeling resistant towards acceptance, as if accepting this situation is at odds with hope. But the key is actually to soften into this new life – which looks like it will continue for quite a while – while still embracing moments of joy, big belly-laughs, and silver-linings.
It’s been heartening to hear how many of you are imagining the places you’ll go when this is over. Our travel advisor, Chelsea, has been helping clients adjust their trips in light of the pandemic, and rather than canceling, some are opting to go bigger, bolder, and further afield. If coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that every moment of life should be savored. The concept of making a travel bucket list never felt more apt.
This week’s interview is a nudge to start planning the trip you’ve been dreaming of for years, with the people you love most in the world. Jacqueline Hampton is the founder of Portico, a tool that helps you pull all your trip inspo – from restaurants to culture articles and reservation details – into one place, then organize and map your itinerary day by day. Once home, users can create a sharable story of their trip with notes and photos (super useful next time a friend asks for recommendations). We spoke to Jacqueline about planning a bucket list trip and the future of travel post-pandemic.
FTT: How is your quarantine going in Boston?
Jacqueline Hampton: For me, it’s like, how do I stay calm in this craziness? Frankly, being a CEO of a company, I need to figure out how I keep centered in order to keep the team centered to keep us moving forward. Because there’s important stuff that we can help people with.
FTT: I definitely think Portico can be a tool people use right now while they’re getting excited about traveling in the hopefully not-so-distant future.
JH: Yes, when all this is over, the world is going to need us to travel. And some of that travel is to just to your local restaurants to help give them business again, and then some of that travel is around the world – in some countries 20-40% of their GDP is based on travel. We need to get back out there and experience it. So part of what Portico is talking about now is – in this time when you’re at home, and you start to cook a bit more, and you read more, and you watch TV more – you can also dream more about what you want to do when the pandemic is over. Because none of that dreaming is for naught. If you're sitting down and reading stuff on Rome, you can save all your ideas in Portico. You can even map out your entire trip. It’s acting on the hope that there’s light at the end of this tunnel.
FTT: I’m desperate to go to Japan. It’s been on my bucket list for years and years and years, but it’s a big trip from the US. So now I’m thinking what better time to plan, given that a vacation to Japan might take me six months to organize!
JH: What better time is there?! On Portico, you can save everything in your ideas section and tag it by venue type or theme – like ‘dinner restaurants’ or ‘museums’ – to make it easily searchable. When you’re researching, sometimes you want to save the whole article, and sometimes there’s just a few facts you want out of it. So we also have a scratchpad where you can jot things down. It’s also great to look back on what you did after you’re home. I love to travel, but I forget. I have friends who remember every detail of a trip, but by day three I can’t remember what I had to eat on day one. I have one friend who can remember our entire route around Sicily 10 years after the trip and the names of all the towns we visited, whereas I could just point to some stuff on the map. So a piece of inspiration behind Portico is to aid my memory and the memories of people like me.
FTT: Do you have any theories about how COVID-19 will change the way that we travel?
JH: I think COVID is bringing us closer together with people in the digital world, so I wonder if there will be more small group travel when this over. I know there’s been a whole movement towards solo travel, and I’m sure some of that will continue, but I feel like a piece of this is going to be wanting to share an experience with someone else.
FTT: That’s such a good point. I’m hearing from a lot of people that they’re catching up with friends on big group calls, often for the first time in years. So it makes sense that people might start planning an IRL reunion with those friends.
JH: Yeah, it’s so good to reconnect that it makes you actually want to see them in person when this all over. I also think in the short term people will make changeable plans – some of the pre-paid things will disappear because people will be a little bit nervous. I hope that people will appreciate travel more and the ability we have to do it. But the biggest thing is going to be, what demands are we going to place on the industry? Are we going to see slower turnarounds on flights to account for more thorough cleaning of planes? Will there be technology to detect our temperatures at airports? The policies around cleanliness at airports and hotels and on planes will definitely change a lot.
EB: Are you planning a trip right now?
JH: My mid-June trip to San Sebastián is a bit of a question mark because even if we can travel by then, I’m not sure whether Spain will be recovered enough. I’m supposed to be going to Cape Town and Namibia in late September, but I haven’t booked my flights there yet. Those are the two on the docket for this year, plus a trip to Italy once travel restrictions are lifted so we can visit my partner’s parents, who live in Milan. But Tokyo is on my list too!
EB: I’m so tempted to buy a flight now for the fall and hope it’s ok to travel by then.
JH: I was thinking about that too. Lots of airlines are offering rescheduling and cancelling flexibility. I would also advise anybody booking ahead for the future to stay at hotels because the hotel policies I’ve seen are allowing anybody who books by the end of April to change or cancel at any time, even with pre-paid rates. And I’d almost feel good about it because they need our help right now.
EB: Finally, what was a recent piece of content that brightened up your day?
JH: The London-based sports commentator Nick Heath put up a couple of instagram posts where he’s commentating on sights from the local park – the four women with strollers walking or two dogs playing – as if it were a competitive game. It’s awesome and very funny.