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High travel prices and long commutes: How remote work culture affects winter travel
Young man sitting on deck and working on laptop.
In the past, there were clear lines between traveling for work and traveling for leisure. For most office workers, work took place in person at a desk, and traveling to attend business meetings, meet with clients, or attend conferences was the norm. Many people take a vacation or two a year to explore beyond their usual confines, using time off from their jobs — summer and winter breaks are ideal times for families to adjust schedules. There used to be clear boundaries between work time and time spent on vacation, but the pandemic-driven expansion of remote work has changed all that significantly.
According to the Census Bureau, the number of people working from home will triple between 2019 and 2021. As of January 2022, Pew Research found that 6 in 10 people choose to work remotely rather than return to their offices. As more companies adapt to this increasingly distributed world, the travel industry is reaping the benefits, seeing demand—and prices—climb. The American Travel Association reported a steady increase in air passenger numbers, which were 5% below October 2019 levels.
Curious to know what all this means for your travel plans? Bounce has compiled a list of how the remote work culture is affecting winter travel from sources like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg.
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Travel has resumed and people are willing to make up for lost time, even if they have to work while travelling
A businessman rolls a suitcase while walking through an airport.
After a long pandemic that has reduced travel, relaxed restrictions have prompted many to pack their bags and embark on long-awaited trips. According to the New York Times, the rise of remote jobs is cited by many experts as the reason for the extremely high travel demand.
Many newly minted digital nomads plan trips while they spend part of their time working. These blurred lines could change how Americans distinguish between leisure and business travel. Already, the airline industry sees demand even between busy weekends and slower weekdays.
“There has been a permanent structural shift in demand for leisure time due to the flexibility that hybrid working allows,” said Scott Kirby, United’s chief executive. “This is not a lax demand. It’s the new normal.”
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Passengers can expect to pay more
The travel agent hands over the tickets.
Travelers are dusting off their luggage and returning with enthusiasm as the fear of Covid-19 eases. Increased demand, staff shortages, low seat capacity (down 6% compared to pre-pandemic levels), and a 150% increase in jet fuel prices over the past year have resulted in 25% higher prices than airfares. Last year, as per November 2022 Consumer Price Index.
Rampant inflation affects the travel industry as well. According to the US Travel Association’s Travel Price Index, fuel costs increased nearly 50% in October compared to 2020; Accommodation prices have similarly increased by 25%. From food to taxis and entertainment, travelers can expect to spend a lot.
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Long trips that combine remote work with leisure time
Man with laptop and mobile phone working remotely on a lounge chair overlooking the ocean.
The rise of the remote worker has come with “leisure” — a mashup of “business” and “leisure” travel, or the relatively more familiar term “working.” Instead of taking one or two big trips during limited vacation days, employees are packing their laptops, meeting deadlines on the road, and may book twice as many trips, according to Deloitte’s 2022 travel industry estimates.
Zoom, Slack, and similar communication technologies have made it easier for workers to stay connected to workplace events, even when reminiscing with their families. However, this mixed travel experience has its obvious danger: how can one truly escape when one commutes to work anywhere in the world?
Instead of trying to make the best of both worlds, researchers Laura M. Kierge and Caitlin Woolley strongly advocate separation of church and state. Their research, published in the Harvard Business Review, found that people who worked weekends and holidays felt less motivated at work in the long run.
This story originally appeared on Bounce and was produced by and
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