The pristine beach at Cuba's Cayo Coco. According to a new American Express survey, people are feeling 'anxiety' over being unable to travel. Credit: Dave Makichuk for Asia Times.

It’s September in the Great White North, which means, it’s time to go online and look for travel deals to the sunny Caribbean.

Cuba is a wonderful country with great people and a fascinating history, and while I can’t afford to go every year, I sure try to get down there during Canada’s cold winter months.

I savour the Hemingway daiquiris at the Floridita in Old Havana, the home-grown Cubano music of the Buena Vista Social Club, and the elegant pool at the Hotel Nacional — not to mention mojitos and cigars at the Churchill bar.

I also enjoy hitting the ballparks to take in some top caliber Cuban baseball, one of the best leagues in the Caribbean. A ticket is only $3!

Alas, this year is different, very different. I simply can’t go. Cuba has shut its borders to tourists because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and I don’t think there are any flights down there anyway.

Not only can I not travel to Cuba, I can’t go anywhere, not even to the United States of America, with its nutbar president and wacky politics.

Not unless I have a very good reason, and I don’t.

And if I go to Europe, it’s an automatic two week isolation period — but no hotel wants an isolated customer who may have Covid, so it’s a travel Catch 22. I’m a prisoner of sorts, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Personally, I thought it was just me suffering from this lack of travel, but according to a new poll, a lot of other folks are feeling this frustration as well.

According to the 2020 Amex Trendex, a trend report from American Express, people miss travel so much that it’s taking an emotional toll and affecting their well-being, Travel + Leisure reported.

American Express released its poll results after surveying 2,000 people nationwide that are considered “general population travelers” with a household income of US$70,000 a year or more.

The famed Floridita bar in Havana, which was a favourite of literary giant Ernest Hemingway. Credit: Dave Makichuk for Asia Times.

The survey found that nearly half (48%) of respondents felt that not being able to travel makes them feel “anxious and stressed,” the report said.

And, three in four consumers (78%) noted that traveling is “one of the top activities they miss the most right now.”

But, just because they want to travel doesn’t mean they will. As the report added, just 10% of consumers surveyed were planning to travel over the Labor Day weekend, the report said.

When the time comes that it’s safe to resume travel, 67% of respondents said they’d still keep their travel group small, either traveling within their family or quarantine pod.

And once travel resumes, people will also seek out direct access booking options so they can speak to a human about travel restrictions and what to expect upon arrival, the report said.

Beyond the ability to talk to a person, travelers also listed flexibility and cleanliness standards as their top priorities.

The pool at the grand Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba. Credit: Dave Makichuk for Asia Times.

People are also willing to go on extended vacations if the perks align. And we’re not just talking about a few extra days.

According to the survey results, 50% of respondents said they’d be willing to move somewhere new for an entire year if “given economic and health incentives,” the report said.

Luckily for them, there are a few destinations considering offering exactly that. Take Barbados as the prime example.

In July, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced the country is considering a 12-month “Barbados Welcome Stamp,” which could allow tourists to spend extended time on the island.

“Covid-19 has presented tremendous challenges to those countries that are tourism and travel dependent and we have reached a position where we recognize that part of the challenge relates to short term travel,” Mottley said.

“So, if we can have a mechanism that allows people who want to…take advantage of being in a different part of the world, of the sun, sea and sand, and … a stable society; one that functions well, then Barbados is a perfect place for you to come.”

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