airplane taking off

The Decline in Travel in 2020

Make America Great Again didn’t play out well for travel. Right now, we are at a critical juncture and under scrutiny from the rest of the world. There is a chance that the European Union will deny us (the United States) the ability to travel to Europe in the next few days. So is 2020 where the decline in travel began?

If warranted, this stain will be a well-deserved one, factoring in the current administration’s handling of the global pandemic. I find it quite a shock, but I suppose maybe it is part of the “new normal”  happening all around us. Numerous Americans vacation in Europe each year, and to be stripped of that is dumbfounding.

A Fall Election

I remember November of 2016 very well. The 6th was my birthday, the 8th was the election, and on the 11th, I flew to Europe. It was to be a much-needed break after the exhausting political spectacle that had played out in the months prior. Divisions and hate had already begun on social media, with friends, and even with some family members.

Shellshocked and a little bit jetlagged, I made my way to Sweden on a Norwegian 787 Dreamliner via LA. No issues on arrival as the power and prestige of the US passport facilitated an easy entry into Stockholm.

Sweden and Denmark

In the hostel, which happened to be a former sailing ship that overlooks the old town (Gamla Stan), I was suddenly en vogue and the object of many questions about the election and what was going on in the US. I found this to be a common theme on this journey. “Oh, you are American? What happened with the election? What do you think of Hillary? How did you vote? What’s going to happen now?

After a couple of days exploring beautiful museums (Vasa, ABBA, Royal Palace), stuffing myself with meatballs, hot dogs, and herring, I made my way to Denmark by train. Eventually, I found and met up with my friends in Copenhagen. I was supposed to get off at the airport but mistakingly got off at the central station. Oops! See friends; a travel faux pas can happen to any of us at any time.

I Saw a Sign

Refugee welcome sign after decline in travel
Welcoming sign at a Copenhagen restaraunt

Out for dinner one night, a sign in a street window caught my eye. It said Je Suis USA – US Refugees Welcome! Is this what I have become? So many people, mostly celebrities, had discussed leaving the US if Trump had won the election. Scandinavia wouldn’t have been a bad option. Who doesn’t love Ikea and meatballs with lingonberries?

Airport Security Changes

A year later, in November of ’17, I was in Stockholm flying home from backpacking three months in Europe, and Trump had imposed new security measures for those traveling to the US. Every person in line to check in was pulled aside and asked a series of questions. Where were you in Europe, what did you see, why are you coming to America, are you alone, etc.? This process and Trump’s travel bans could be pinpointed causes that led to the decline of travel. So much for self-check-in, avoiding queues, and getting my boarding pass from a kiosk. An introvert’s dream suddenly turns into a nightmare. The practice continues to this day.

Remember back when travel was easy and fun? Good times.

Modern Day

In today’s world, we aren’t very sure of what to expect. But, I can say for certain that it won’t be getting any easier. A lot of things are still unfolding with each new day. Planning, conceptualizing and implementing all need to take place. The “new normal” will be like this past March (which lasted a decade). It just would not end, and it wasn’t enjoyable.

Airline prices are going to be higher. Even more so on transatlantic routes without low-cost carriers flying, like my favorite, Norwegian, until 2021. Mandatory quarantines, travel bubbles, a possible virus reoccurrence, and more await us if we can get out.

Decline in Travel Today

Domestic flights, trains, car trips, and RV’ing should see an uptick in numbers. However, I don’t think people will want to go very far. Travel will remain, but it will stay safe and be straightforward. People will go to the beach, a cabin in the woods, a fishing or hiking trip not off galavanting to far-flung destinations. Things and places will be familiar and comfortable, just like that broken-in pair of shoes or favorite jacket.

I long for the opposite, yet sadly that won’t be happening for a good bit. We are unwelcome now in many places around the world. Cast aside as the joke of the day and not taken seriously anymore amongst our global peers. Travel has changed; we have to adapt and learn. Maybe the next administration will Make Travel Great Again. I hope that I will see a sign like the one in Copenhagen, but instead, one that reads, Je Suis USA – US Refugees Travelers Welcome!

Get Ready to Book Your Trip: Helpful Links and Resources

Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find and research your airfare needs and to find the best flight deals. It searches worldwide on multiple airlines to help you find the best options.

Book Your Stay is my go-to for finding a place to stay anywhere globally. An outstanding company that I trust and have used for many years. Find accommodation from budget to luxury in cities and countries around the world. If you happen to be backpacking and staying in hostels, I recommend Hostelworld to help you find a place to stay.

Get Travel Insurance
Travel is unpredictable. Anything could happen. A trip interruption, flight delay, lost or stolen items, or personal injury, having comprehensive trip insurance will protect you if anything goes wrong. SafetyWing is a solid choice for most travelers.

Tours, Activities, and Things to Do
Viator (a TripAdvisor company) offers many excellent options to keep you busy wherever you may be, from walking and food tours to sunset cruises and more. Make sure to give them a look and add some fun-filled activities to your itinerary.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend companies and products that I use myself and believe in.


  1. Someday you will be able to get out there and travel again. Hopefully sooner rather than later and hopefully before either of us are too old to enjoy it.

  2. We will see. These months are the longest I’ve been at home since… lol. Safety and family first. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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