If you had asked me, before the pandemic, which aspect of travel I could most do without, I would have answered "crowds".
It is precisely why I'd rather save up for one far-flung holiday to an isolated shoreline in the Indian Ocean than make regular hops to the Mediterranean coast. It is why I've never visited Venice, much as I have longed to. And it's why Antarctica will always be the most enthralling place I've been.
Indeed, I would go as far as to say that almost every facet of travel, from getting there (terminals, planes, stations, trains) to being there (beaches, forests, museums, bars) is exponentially better the fewer people there are.
A colleague of mine wrote recently that he was dreading what his next city break might look like with all these new coronavirus-related restrictions in place. The masks, the social distancing police, the Perspex screens; all a bit overbearing?
I'll take it. In a world that has for decades battled with overtourism, it is a small price to pay for the once rare luxury of being at least one metre from the next passenger, beachgoer, hiker or sightseer at any one time.
Sticky tray tables, be gone. Photo: iStock
Everything will be cleaner, too. No more sticky tray tables; aircraft cabins will be forensically sanitised. No more absurdly wasteful hotel buffets.
Not only will your odds of catching coronavirus be greatly reduced, but you will also be less likely to come home with food poisoning, or the common cold.
Of course, none of this will come cheap. Inevitably, the cost of travel (getting there and being there) will have to rise to compensate for the reduced capacity – but again, this is no bad thing.
This pandemic has cost us dear in many ways, but it has also forced us to slow down, rein in and re-evaluate. Perhaps travel should be, as it once was, expensive and a treat.
Alone in Venice, at last. Photo: iStock
Last month Matteo Secchi, a Venetian campaigner against overtourism, summarised the situation: "Venice is a five-star restaurant sold as fast food. We shouldn't waste the chance to start again from scratch."
If that is the case, I think I'll finally visit.
The Telegraph, London