Ought to You Book Journey Now For Later In 2021? What You Want To Know
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage worldwide, travel that is not strictly necessary is still off the table. But many budding travelers are hoping for later this year.
“Safety is rightly a top priority for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with the global news of vaccination readiness and approvals, the appetite for travel is growing in 2021,” said Mark Crossey, US travel expert for Skyscanner.
“The events of 2020 underscored the importance of human connection and time with loved ones, and we know from our website traffic and customer behavior that travelers will be looking at it later this year,” he added. “We anticipate that by 2021, many customers will prioritize spending on experiences over material goods in order to create special memories with loved ones.”
But when you start thinking about possible trips later this year, should book things now – or wait until you get a better feel for what’s possible in the future? Below, Crossey and other experts share their advice.
Benefit from good offers that are combined with flexibility.
When it comes to low leisure travel, there are some surprisingly cheap flight options right now. Crossey noted that “tariffs right now are still cheaper than normal seasonal trends.”
At the same time, the airlines reacted to the pandemic and made their cancellation and rebooking processes more flexible. This is why TripScout Co-Founder and CEO Konrad Waliszewski recommends booking your next trip even if you know you may need to postpone or cancel it.
“If you are planning on traveling after the pandemic, book now,” he advised. “It’s unlikely you’ll ever see better rates, availability and perks again – but make sure it’s a flexible booking that you can change for any reason. Travelers eager to wait for the pandemic to stabilize will miss out on this rare opportunity as they compete with the millions of travelers eager to satisfy their pent-up wanderlust. “
Points Guy founder and CEO Brian Kelly echoed that sentiment, noting that there are amazing offers out there. He also recommended booking a trip with airline miles that had gone unused for most people in the past year.
“Almost every airline will give you your miles back if you don’t want to travel because they eliminated deposit fees. So it’s like booking a refundable ticket,” he said.
Although airlines generally stop paying change fees, another reason for booking airline miles instead of dollars is to keep your cash, which turns into airline coupon money if your plans change.
“You can’t pay rent with an airline voucher,” noted Kelly. “I therefore recommend that you book a trip with miles and a refundable hotel. If you cannot use these, you can get your miles back and you will run out of cash.”
Read the fine print.
While airlines and other travel companies have generally introduced more flexible cancellation and rescheduling policies over the past year, this phenomenon is by no means universal, so it’s important to always read the fine print.
“Not all airlines are that flexible, and every airline is different and constantly updating their policies,” said Jeremy Prout, director of security solutions for International SOS. “I encourage every traveler to make sure they read and understand the latest airline cancellation policy. In terms of flexibility, which is long-lasting, we have been in a pandemic for a year and many of us know the risks associated with travel that give airlines and hotels the ability to change these flexible policies as you book them Know risk and still willingly do it. “
Accommodation may also be less flexible. Therefore, please note the booking conditions when you reserve a hotel room or apartment. Melanie Fish, a travel expert at Vrbo, told HuffPost that their hosts have set their own rules, and while many have added flexibility to cancellations during the pandemic, there are a number.
“It really comes down to personal preference,” said Fish. “One reason to wait might be that local government travel restrictions don’t override a host’s cancellation policy. So let’s say the beach you’re about to close doesn’t necessarily invalidate the lease on the house on that beach. Some travelers wait to book closer to their travel date to feel safe that health authority guidelines or local travel restrictions allow them to travel. “
Fish and Crossey both found that their respective travel platforms offer flexible filters for booking policies in their search functions. If you understand and are comfortable with the cancellation policy for your trip, there can be little harm in booking, giving you the opportunity to feel safe at this point.
However, Waliszewski advised being careful about which providers you are using, given the economic impact of the pandemic on the travel industry.
“Avoid booking with lesser-known booking sites and vendors who are at higher risk of short-term bankruptcy,” he noted.
Stay up to date with the public health guidelines.
“We have seen how engaged our community is as the behavior of our website has changed in line with the evolving news agenda and government advice,” said Crossey. “Before planning your next flight, I strongly recommend reading the coronavirus travel advice from your local authorities and governments, as well as the World Health Organization guidelines.”
If you do decide to continue your travel planning process, booking flexible flights and accommodations in advance will give you more time to do in-depth research into the COVID-19 status of your selected destination, as well as any restrictions and risks. During your trip, stay informed of the evolving pandemic situation at home and at your destination and be prepared for any adjustments.
“We are in the middle of a pandemic and we are fighting a new type of virus that we know little about even after a year,” said Prout. “This virus is constantly changing and evolving. This is reflected in recent news about several new and more contagious strains being found in parts of Europe and now in the US. Therefore, we cannot predict whether certain states or countries will be locked again, whether the restrictions will increase in the coming months and more, which can have a huge impact on travel plans. ”
Consider a “flexation”.
“The pandemic has ushered in some interesting new travel behaviors and many families are discovering new and different ways to get away with it together,” Fish said. She noted that Vrbo has seen an increase in so-called “flexcation” which combines “work or school with vacation time, road trips and visits to the great outdoors”.
Basically, families rent homes for extended periods of time and mix remote working with vacation time, often in locations where fishing, hiking, and camping are offered.
“Lots of people are still working from home, and employers are offering more flexible policies on remote working, which means families are free to move around and take longer vacations,” said Fish.
Instead of returning to the same popular spots year after year, she advised looking for secluded destinations. This approach tends to be cheaper, has fewer COVID-19 risks, and “can be a refreshing experience,” she added.
If you don’t want to book, please try anyway.
Even if you decide not to book flights, hotels or excursions, it can still be a nice experience to spend some of that extended time at home looking for travel options and putting together your dream routes.
Psychological research over the years has shown that planning a trip can improve your mental health. Kelly certainly found this to be true even during the pandemic.
“I personally recommend at least planning,” he said. “If I only plan one trip, endorphins will be released, at least for me. And I think it’s a great time to research what your next trip will be like. “