“Protocols are changing so rapidly — it’s so confusing to travelers,” said Mr. Berklich, who usually logs 200,000 miles a year. “Their minds don’t have enough space to worry about regular travel essentials when they’re worried about whether they’ll get into a country or be allowed to leave.”
Dr. Wang said that traveling engages what’s called “prospective memory,” or the ability to remember to perform a task in the future; say, bring a passport to the airport or pack sunscreen for a beach trip.
“With some prospective memories, once you lose that well-exercised routine, you may need to more consciously monitor your packing,” she said. “Before, when you were so used to it, you almost didn’t have to think about those things.”
William Rademacher, the general manager of The Wayfinder Hotel, in Newport, R.I., recalled one business traveler who had stayed at the hotel regularly before the pandemic.
“On his first stay back with us in March, the front-desk agent asked him if he needed help with his bags,” Mr. Rademacher said. “He looked around and said, ‘That’s weird — I never leave my luggage in my car.’ A few minutes later he came back in, walked up to the same front desk agent and said that he had forgotten his bag — all of his clothes and toiletries — at home.”
Then there’s the degree to which Covid — and its mind-boggling requirements for international trips — has dominated travelers’ attention spans.
“We had clients so nervous about all the Covid testing and protocols that they forgot all about the other vaccines needed for travel and arrived in Kenya without their yellow fever vaccine,” said PJ Scott, the chief operating operator of ROAR AFRICA, a luxury safari company, referring to the country’s vaccination requirement. “Clients are so focused on Covid protocols that everything else seems to go by the wayside. Luckily, after much persuasion and discussion with immigration, they were allowed to enter.”