2021 dispelled the myth that “no one is traveling”. I, and many of my fellow Travel Advisors and partners (especially those in Europe) are reporting a 2021 that met pre-pandemic revenues. Trends show that, while fewer people traveled, the trips they took were more in depth. Hotels had reduced capacity yet booked all available rooms in many cases during high seasons of late spring, summer and fall. The care and welcomes were extra special as grateful hosts shared their accommodations once again, many that spent the downtime making renovations and refreshes.
Travelers gathered their families and “pods” of vaccinated loved ones, or those who tested negative, and booked private adventures that exceeded their dreams. There were far fewer crowds that allowed for that wonderful feeling of having the place to yourself. The health safety protocols and private travel caused all to comment they felt safer abroad than at home.
I myself traveled last year to Mexico, Jamaica, Italy, Montenegro and Croatia, Slovenia, Tanzania and Uganda in 7 trips abroad to test the waters and report what I was experiencing.
What have I learned along the way traveling internationally during COVID?
In sending clients and in my own travels, I spent much of 2021 and 2020 adding the how-tos of travel in pandemic to my list of expertise. In the face of ever-changing regulations and schedule changes, it is more essential now than ever to use a Travel Advisor when you plan your travel, someone who will protect your investment and knows how to help you travel effortlessly.
- who the innovators are,
- how the face of travel is going to change, and
- what new trends are emerging.
2021 proved that connections and expertise are essential for international travel- and can prove invaluable in domestic travel as well.
Based upon what we’ve learned from 2021, here is the advice I offer now.
#1 Be Flexible in Your Readiness
Be flexible in your readiness to travel if you can. By embracing last-minute trips, you can take advantage of a destination’s COVID safeness by its local vaccination rate, your ability to be outdoors for dining and touring.
I keep track of these things and keep you and your travel list in mind to offer well-informed and timely suggestions.
#2 Be Flexible In Your Destinations
If you can’t jump into last-minute travel at a moment’s (or few weeks’) notice, then have a list of destinations or travel experiences you’d like in the time you can set for vacation.
Let me know when you can travel, and I can recommend where you can have the best experiences at that time. It helps if I know what your interests are or the things you’d like to pursue.
#3 Be Prepared to Travel
The biggest concern to travel is the testing required, and the timing of such testing. Another requirement that is prevalent in these times is vaccination and making sure you are vaccinated at least 2 weeks before you travel. Proof of vaccination is essential to travel to those countries that require it. Be ready to jump to travel. My own readiness includes labs where I can get same-day PCR results, mail-in PCR tests and at-home antigen tests approved for reentry in the United States for my return home.
I have lists of testing options for clients and the knowledge of the appropriate test and timing for every destination.
#4 Travel Requires Preparation
Ok, I am just going to say this here, without judgement:
In these times, travel to countries that require vaccination, proof of recovery, and/or a negative test for entry. These local protocols, and ones on international flights, are the ones my clients and many travelers said made them feel safer abroad than home.
Right now, there are numerous travelers who went to crowded understaffed resorts who are testing positive and have to delay their returns back home.
When I help you choose the right country and experience at the right time, along with the way you travel, you’ll get better service, uncrowded experiences and an overall better vacation with less risk, providing you are taking responsibility for following all recommended protocols.
#5 Visit One Country Per Trip
Border crossings can be tricky, and unless you are prepared for changes, why not consider this a time to REALLY get to know a destination? You can even return to one where you only did highlights and immerse in that culture (think: Italy if you have only covered Rome-Florence- Venice, or only one region such as Tuscany).
Sure, right now I can arrange trips in adjacent countries that have friendly policies to do so. But if you are looking past 1 month from now, surges can happen, and countries respond according to their self-preservation. While I am at it, fly nonstop, if possible, to reduce time in airports and avoid more requirements.
#6 Take Advantage of Any Travel Offerings
Take advantage, while you can, of any travel offerings. There will be no bargain-basement pricing (after all, people have to be paid, properties have to be maintained and improved). But there ARE special deals for extended stays, non-peak seasons, and expeditions like the Arctic and Antarctica.
#7 Give Yourself the Gift of Travel
Lastly, remember that planning a trip is giving yourself the gift of having something to look forward to. It also helps you avoid disappointment.
Case in point: it is VERY DIFFICULT to book in Lake Como this summer- you are competing with rebooked postponed vacations, wedding, honeymoons.
Anticipation can improve mental health and outlook. In these shifting times, it is natural to be nervous about the investment of depositing and prepaying, so NO trip should be booked without proper protection- another area of expertise I have, both in knowing what the terms and conditions are and getting ones most favorable to you, and in knowing the value of a good travel insurance policy.
The bottom line is get ready and be ready to travel by working with a knowledgeable Travel Advisor– especially one who has traveled and continues to do so in these pandemic times. I know the way because I have been there.