OPINION: THE NEW ESSENCE OF TRAVEL

 

As the owner of Petite Passport, all things that make me happy have to do with traveling. From deciding where to go to the moment you open the door of the hotel you wanted to visit so badly. From the enthusiasm of the people behind the spots to the messages I receive from readers telling me they had such a good time in Barcelona, Berlin or Copenhagen. Ever since Petite Passport was launched, and even way before, my whole life has been dominated by travel. Until COVID-19 came along.

 

People ask: ‘Isn’t it extra difficult for you now you have to stay at home?’ But I don’t experience it that way. It gives me peace, clarity and time to not only look back at the last ten years, but also to look ahead. What will travel, and especially the places we love to visit, be like after corona? I’m not a futurist, but as I’ve had many conversations with inspiring entrepreneurs and traveled to many future-proof places these last couple of years, I like to share my insights with you.

 

Airline travel

2019 was the year when the term ‘flight shame’ became a thing on every traveler’s mind. Young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg told her story at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York and decided not to fly there, but to take the boat. Her speech made people from all over the world think twice about going to Bali for a weekend. And many of them started looking for destinations accessible by train or car. Now the COVID-19 virus has completely shut down airline travel and we are learning to live in a society where social distancing is the new normal. Will you then gladly drop yourself in the middle seat of Economy Class this summer?

 

Train, car or bicycle

Air traffic will certainly be up and running again, but not in an instant and on a more exclusive scale. Imagine more space or even plastic screens in between seats, more health checks and more interest in business class or private jets – which of course means more expensive tickets. Travelers are therefore challenged to come up with alternatives. Why not make a long journey every five years, and take more time for it? In the coming months travelers will look for places they can visit by train, car of even bicycle. The borders are closed and when they open again you like to stay closer to home. A good development as it brings us back to the essence of what travel really is. And before I explain more, I would like to ask you what travel means for you. What’s the reason you pack your bags and like to explore another country?

 

 

Slow down

When I asked myself this question, I thought back of my recent trips and a feeling of urgency came up. As if we only have a year to live and we need to visit every place on earth and take pictures of it (just google ‘Mona Lisa crowded’ for the extreme version). And because there are so many beautiful addresses in Milan we just have to get going. While this is obviously not the essence of travel at all. The best journeys slow you down. They let you notice things you normally won’t see. They let you taste something you will still remember years later. And they inspire you by a spontaneous conversation with a local or a visit to a museum.

 

Your own backyard

Now is the time to revalue your own backyard. In order to sharpen all our senses for the moment we’re allowed to get back on the road, I invite you to explore your neighborhood with the eyes of a tourist. For example, the Amsterdam canals can feel normal to you as you cycle there every day, while someone from a modern city like Singapore is in awe of all that history. Ask a neighbor what his favorite hidden gem is. Support small business owners. And take the road less travelled, better said: the street you’ve never entered before, to learn more about your city.

 

Discover your country

Apart from discovering your own city, this time also invites you to think about a holiday in your own country. No jetlag, hardly any CO2-emission and a lot more affordable. The purpose of vacation is to rest and that has nothing to do with distance (however it has to do with a distance of your ever-growing to do list, so don’t take it with you ;)). Personally, I have a lot of fond memories of my stay at Atelier Gaasterland in a nature reserve in Friesland (The Netherlands) where you will see deer in the morning. Or of Le Barn in France where you’ll stay in a stylish hotel, but you can see the surrounding forest on a horse. Or of Cabanas no Rio, two architecturally transformed fishermen’s huts with a panoramic view on an hour’s drive from Lisbon.

 

 

Hospitality

Will this then be the end of city trips? Of course not. I do think hospitality will change. It will be smaller, more personal and the community aspect will play a more important role. Chefs who had to close down the doors of their restaurants now deliver their recipes and ingredients to your home, they just don’t cook it for you. In the future I will see more small-scale restaurants such as 212 in Amsterdam, Wolfgat in Paternoster and Maos in London where it feels like you’re in the kitchen of the chef. On a different scale it happens at places like Rooftop Smokehouse in Barcelona or Ostergro in Copenhagen. Think of the idea of a living room where the chef does what he loves the most: cooking for people who are in the mood for a night out.

 

The influence of the farm

The farm brings us back to the place where it all starts before their produce finds a way to our plates. It’s not a coincidence that farm stays, such as Ross Farm, The Newt and Deplar Farm are now so popular. We want to experience nature to see and taste what our hinterland has to offer. That brings us to restaurants in the city that only use ingredients their country has to offer, such as Wilder in Shoreditch. That earthy aspect also makes a way to restaurant interiors: you’ll see lots of wood, earthy colors such as terracotta, sturdy furniture and above all, not too much fuss.

 

 

New perspective on a night’s out

Hospitality concepts can also transform themselves completely. Carousel has been successfully doing this for years in London now. They have a restaurant space that never changes, but the chefs change every few weeks. This means their guests won’t have to fly around the world to see Niklas Ekstedt at work in Stockholm, the so-called vegetable whisperer Toshio Tanahashi in Kyoto or Javier Rodriguez from El Papagayo in Argentina. At Carousel you share a communal table with a select group of people who, like you, want to experience the culinary sensations of the chef of that evening.

 

 

Community

This bringing together of a select group of like-minded people to form a community will grow even more. Before Corona we all lived very individualistic lives and the tide seems to be turning now. We need each other: after all, we’re stronger together. What Soho House does with their rock-solid event program may, in my eyes, travel all over the world. Every city will have a place where a community of people with the same (design) interests come together and you’ll organize a stargazing evening or a bookbinding workshop and you’ll automatically make new friends. No phones, but real conversations. Soho House, Ace Hotel, The Hoxton, The Audo: the ‘design churches’ of post-corona.

 

More than a hotel

Hotels are no longer places where you only stay the night. They have restaurants, a coffee-to-go corner, an exhibition space and while you’re there you can also learn something via a workshop or get some work done. Hotel V in Amsterdam no longer received any bookings for their rooms and now invites local people to work there silently. Birch, just slightly North of London, is also a hotel and co-working space but also organizes ceramic workshops, beekeeping lessons or sourdough making mornings and they have a vegetable garden that supplies the restaurants with fresh ingredients.

 

Micro hotels

Small-scale hotels can also make a difference: because it’s so personal, you’ll be pampered even more, and the chance of getting a scary virus is much smaller than sharing the breakfast room with dozens of people. Look at places like My Home in Porto, with only three rooms, but with a host who takes away all your worries and also makes you a delicious breakfast. Also interesting: stay the night with a designer such as Stephen Kenn in Los Angeles – who now also makes masks in the same army fabric as his popular sofas.

 

 

Wellness

Now that we have to stay indoors and our expansion drive is tempered, we will notice our internal dialogue more. That makes us worry at times, but it also brings us room for new ideas, to clear up all the cupboards, to try out new recipes and to walk ourselves healthy. I’m convinced both mental as physical health will play a major role in our future holidays. The first yoga hotel in a metropolis such as Paris has recently opened the doors. Bathhouse in Williamsburg has the function of an old-fashioned bathhouse, but with a super stylish design. Remedy Place in Los Angeles is not a gym, but invites members to take an ice bath, follow a guided meditation, and try out a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to work preventively on a healthy mind and body. More and more young people are walking the Camino. And who doesn’t dream of a yoga retreat at Mandali at 850 meters above civilization where the air you breathe gives you an instant boost?

 

Shopping

If we turn down the volume of our busy lives, shopping doesn’t really seem that important anymore. Retail stores have been under attack for some time now and you don’t have to travel to see the popular shopping streets anymore as they look the same all over the world. Graanmarkt 13 in Antwerp questions the rhythm of the fashion seasons. How often do you really have to buy something new? Isn’t it better to buy a sweater that might be a little more expensive, but you can wear it for the rest of your life? Instead of a sale, they invite their customers to return their old clothes and resell the items to someone else who might enjoy it for another seven years.

 

1-on-1 service

Personal service will become even more important in a new retail landscape. The owner of your favorite store knows you will fall in love with that leather jacket she just received and gives you a call. You can also take it a step further: is a brick-and-mortar shop still necessary? Now that we have subscriptions for our favorite movies and music already, why not with a retailer you love? I would love to deliver my guides personally, give some extra recommendations and check in with you afterwards to hear your stories. And if we have ‘design churches’ in every city: wouldn’t it be an idea to invite a young designer/artist every Wednesday afternoon? We get to know him, learn the story behind his work which will give a lot of extra value to your purchase.

 

Petite Passport

And what does all of this mean for a platform like Petite Passport? I think we can incorporate all the concepts mentioned above in my site, books, magazine and socials. Staying close to home, going back to the essence of travel, slowing down. Don’t recommend 1000 places, but only the absolute best so you have time to really feel the city in your own unique way. Don’t post on Instagram every day, only if you have something to say. Take time to create and dive deep into learning something new. And make it even more personal: instead of creating for those intangible number of 100k+ followers, I prefer to see the faces of the people I share my recommendations with. I hope to make our community even stronger. Perhaps by delivering those guides personally, perhaps by organizing workshops or events. Who knows: maybe even by doing a city trip together. Or the biggest dream: creating the House of Petite Passport, with a b&b, workshop space, bookstore and a dog – designed by a fantastic architect.

 

Essence

I may have a somewhat idealistic view of the future of travel and hospitality. Maybe the planes will be packed again next month as Ryanair presents an offer we can’t refuse. But let’s go inside ourselves again and again and remember why travelling is so important to you. For me it’s to be there completely, without my head wondering off somewhere else. To enjoy, slow down and appreciate.

 

Take care! Pauline

 

Love to hear your thoughts, share them in the comments section below

15 Comments

  • Stephanie Bonnet

    23.04.2020 at 12:40 Reply

    Thanks Pauline, this is a very good article with a great new perspective on what travel means. I think you are right on many trends and that going back inside, appreciating things near us, valuing smaller places will definitely take hold. And I wish for your project “the house of Petite Passport” to come true, it’s a great idea!

    • Pauline Egge

      23.04.2020 at 13:07 Reply

      Thank you for your kind words Stephanie! Yes, totally agree! As we are now being forced to stay at home, we will appreciate the world on a bigger scale. I went on a walk last week and I don’t know if it was an effect of nature or if I was more in the moment, but I suddenly noticed two blue tits in a what normally is a busy street. It made me super happy, seeing them dance around some cars and buildings. If we take that sort of appreciation to our longer journeys in the future, wow: what will then happen? And thank you also for your feedback on the idea of the House of Petite Passport: I hope it will one day see its existence. Warm wishes, Pauline

  • Esther van Onna

    23.04.2020 at 14:06 Reply

    Lovely write up Pauline! I can’t agree more! Take care! X, Esther – owner Local Hideaways

    • Pauline Egge

      23.04.2020 at 14:21 Reply

      Thank you Esther! You too!

      Warm wishes, Pauline

  • Kim Alderden

    23.04.2020 at 19:53 Reply

    Dear Pauline, it took me a while to find new insights on the future of travel. For me travel is about meeting new people who invite you to their homes and share their life and stories with you. Recently an amazing 63 year old bongo maker in Montevideo, the most amazing surfer in Uruguay and talented chefs who open their kitchens and share taste and passion…. Your story inspires me to open my eyes and look deeper in my own ‘backyard’. Maybe we take our home place a bit for granted? in my case it is just that nomad feeling that tantalizes my soul when I touch down in a new destination.. Thank you for sharing your insights, it helps me define new roads to travel. Love, Kim

  • Helena Bosch

    23.04.2020 at 19:54 Reply

    Dearest Pauline, thank you for sharing your opinion with us. Your way of seeing the travel industry future so positive being also part of it encourages me also to keep positive and thing new ways of communicate what we love the most: hospitality. I send you lots of love from Barcelona and hope to meet you again in The Nederlands or Barça 😉

    • Pauline Egge

      23.04.2020 at 23:02 Reply

      Thank you for your kind words Helena! Yes most definitely: and I’m sure you’ll have lots of work to do when this is all over. Love to see you again in Barcelona or The Netherlands! Stay strong in Spain! xx

  • Carita Sutherland

    23.04.2020 at 14:49 Reply

    Interessant en inspirerend geschreven

    • Pauline Egge

      23.04.2020 at 09:49 Reply

      Dankjewel Carita!

  • Amanda Morris

    23.04.2020 at 20:28 Reply

    Hi Pauline, very much enjoyed your thoughts on future travel. Wondering if you heard the podcast from The Daily (NYTimes) from Gabrielle from Prune about her restaurant. Think you would also find it interesting…

    • Pauline Egge

      23.04.2020 at 09:50 Reply

      Hi Amanda, thank you for your comment and for your recommendation. Didn’t listened to it yet, but will add it to my list. Quite curious now! Thanks! Warm wishes, Pauline

  • Sandra Haarman

    23.04.2020 at 23:02 Reply

    Hi Pauline, heb genoten van je artikel en ik vind dat je helemaal gelijk hebt. Kwaliteit boven kwantiteit. En waarom niet gewoon in je eigen ‘back yard’? Nog zoveel te zien en te verkennen op de achteraf weggetjes rond je eigen woonplek/plaats. Inderdaad goed om in deze rare tijden naar binnen te kijken en voor jezelf te onderzoeken wat reizen voor je betekent. Mij gaf mijn wereldreis vorig jaar vooral het inzicht dat wij mensen deze prachtige wereld aan het uitputten en leegscheppen zijn. Dus ook daar blijkt wel dat kwaliteit boven kwantiteit dient te gaan. Meer genieten van minder en misschien minder ver weg. Je suggestie van slechts eens per zoveel jaar een gewelfde lange en mooie reis maken, vind ik dan ook helemaal passen bij straks het nieuwe normaal. Niet uitputten maar teruggeven, zou dan de nieuwe trend moeten zijn: En daarna terugkeren naar een veilig thuis. Ik wens je het huis van Petit Passport van harte toe, want hoe leuk reizen ook is, het spreekwoord Oost, West, thuis best, blijkt nu toch heel erg de waarheid en werkelijkheid. Veel liefs, Sandra

    • Pauline Egge

      23.04.2020 at 09:24 Reply

      Hi Sandra,

      Dank voor je fijne bericht. Leuk weer van je te horen! En klopt volledig: ik ben nu ook regelmatig in de buurt aan het wandelen. Niet mijn geijkte rondje langs de Maas, maar juist een kant op waar ik nooit eerder ben geweest. Dan kom je erachter dat er in je eigen stad, laat staan land, nog zoveel te ontdekken is.

      Heel mooi gezegd ook: ‘niet uitputten maar teruggeven’. Het is interessant om te zien dat sommige hotels/restaurants al veel doen om hun gasten te verbinden met de lokale bevolking door middel van bijvoorbeeld een kookcursus of het bezoeken van een boerderij waar de chefs hun ingrediënten halen. Die ontwikkeling mag zich zeker doorzetten 🙂

      The House of Petite Passport zou inderdaad geweldig zijn! Ik hou je ervan op de hoogte!

      Veel liefs, Pauline

  • Monique Jansse

    23.04.2020 at 20:27 Reply

    Hi Paulien, wat een fijn mooi stuk heb je geschreven en dit vooruitzicht deel ik volledig met je. Ik verwacht dat het kleinschalige, authentieke en duurzame de norm zal worden. Alles waar massa voorstaat mag wat mij betreft naar de achtergrond. En inderdaad zullen mensen nog veel meer op zoek gaan naar ervaringen die ook daadwerkelijk de ziel raken, zoals waar we met Happy Soul Travel ook al jaren mee bezig zijn. Juist in deze tijd ben ik ook zo blij met De Hoorneboeg, want daar kunnen we mensen nu ook al zulke mooie retreats dichtbij huis bieden. En wat was het daar mooi (en stil) de afgelopen maanden. Ik nodig je graag nog eens uit bij ons voor een koffie in de moestuin om nog eens verder te filosoferen over deze nieuwe wereld!

    Liefs, Monique (Happy Soul Travel en Buitenplaats De Hoorneboeg)

    • Pauline Egge

      23.04.2020 at 15:02 Reply

      Hi Monique, dank voor je mooie reactie. En De Hoorneboeg is inderdaad een perfect voorbeeld: kleinschalig, dicht bij huis en omringd door die prachtige natuur. Helemaal mee eens: laten we die koffie zeker eens plannen!

      Liefs, Pauline

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