With so much uncertainty about traveling as our country opens up again, I have been getting lots of questions from clients. I have compiled a list of the most FAQs and my thoughts on each.
Should I plan a vacation for 2020?
Before making any new plans, the travel restrictions need to be lifted. It is very difficult to predict where and when people will feel safe to travel again this year. Another thing to consider will be where you wish to travel and how you want to get there. It is important to keep in mind that flying again will bring lots of changes and you will likely be required to wear a face mask for the duration of the flight. You may also find that you have to wear a face mask while out and about in your destination of choice. Deciding to travel once restrictions are lifted really depends on your risk tolerance. For me, I am planning to travel as soon as it is possible. I also feel comfortable planning vacations for other families who wish to travel in the US. However, until we know more and travel restrictions are lifted, I am not comfortable planning new trips to Europe for the remainder of 2020. For 2021, I am very comfortable and actually believe NOW is the time to make those plans. People who have had their vacations changed from 2020 to 2021 already have a head start in planning their European vacations, causing space to be more limited.
Can we trust hotels, airlines, cruise ships, and tour companies to keep us safe?
Hotels, airlines, and other businesses related to travel know they have to do whatever it takes to make guests feel comfortable doing business with them. Everything I have heard from my supplier partners is that we will be seeing a lot more cleaning than we ever did before. Typically, the real cleaning aboard cruise ships, theme parks, etc. gets done while the guests are sleeping. I believe when we travel again, we will see cleaning happening continuously at all times. I think most people will welcome the sight of workers following the protocols that are being put in place by the airlines, cruise lines, and tour companies. The more of this we see, the higher everyone's comfort level will be.
Will it be safe to cruise?
I personally think the cruise industry will be changed for quite some time. Travelers have seen the stories of cruise ships not allowed to enter ports of call with high numbers of sick people on board. However, cruise lines are giving a lot of thought on how to keep passengers safe while on-board. The buffets are one thing that I predict will go away, and areas that are not possible for social distancing will likely be closed. Cruising is one of my favorite ways to vacation, so I personally feel comfortable sailing when the cruise lines re-open and already have my next cruise booked. One option for travelers who may be hesitant about boarding a large ship is to sail on the smaller ships like expedition, boutique, yacht, or river cruises.
Will guided tours be a safe option?
Taking a guided tour will depend on your own comfort level. How will you feel about being on a bus with 30 or more people? There are other options, such as a small group tour or a custom tour. These tours are designed around your preferences and include private transportation and private excursions. Will travel insurance protect me if I can't travel? The short answer is- it depends. The bottom line is that a pandemic is not a covered reason under any travel insurance policy. So you shouldn't rely on being reimbursed for non-refundable costs from an insurance policy if you are canceling because you are fearful of Covid-19. However, if you get sick from Covid-19 and can't travel, you would be covered. So the question really depends on the answer to why you can't travel. There is some talk of travel insurance companies offering pandemic policies. We will have to wait and see if that happens and what the coverages would be.
How early should I begin planning a trip for 2021?
Most flight schedules become available 11 months prior to travel dates. Depending on the vacation, you should start planning 12 to 18 months prior to the date you would like to start your trip. Keep in mind that most travelers who had their vacations canceled have moved their plans to 2021, so dates in the spring and summer of 2021 may be filled quickly.
How will travel be changed in the future?
When travel does begin again, most experts believe that people will feel safer by taking road trips not too far from home. There could also be a shift to driving rather than flying and an increase in the use of travel advisors. Bookings through online travel agencies will likely decrease because of the difficulty travelers have experienced when trying to change or cancel reservations through the OTAs. Many believe there will be an increase in multi-generational travel as a result of families not being together for many months. And finally, hygiene and sanitation will be a top priority for everyone.
What types of trips are other travelers planning?
According to a recent survey, here is the breakdown:
- Day trips with no overnight stays - 46.4%
- Regional road trips up to 200 miles from home - 55.6%
- Road trips, primarily by auto - 74.9%
- Trips that include an air component - 58.4% International trips - 38.9%
- Multi-generational trips of 3 or more generations - 27.1%
- Cruises with three or more nights on board - 16.2%
- Train travel from one city or country to another - 13.7%
How will we know when it's safe to travel again?
Read and prepare. Decide what you are comfortable with after you have read the guidelines from the CDC, Department of State, the WHO, and TSA. Get the facts based on where you plan to travel. Use a combination of the things you know and the things you understand and then use your best judgment. If you are comfortable with what you are reading, and you and your family have decided the time is right for you, then please go out and travel. And know that Vacations256 will be here for you when you're ready!