YOUR FIVE BIGGEST TRAVEL QUESTIONS ANSWERED
The When, Where and How To of post vaccine travel
Theresa Jackson, Travel Expert
Hi and welcome back to the world of travel anticipation. Well, for many, TRAVEL has already begun! But you may have waited- for the vaccine, for more clarity on logistics, or for more of the world to be open.
The fact is, there are still a lot of questions you probably have. Fear not, while the world took a break, travel experts like me never did. I spent the year like this: first to help clients return home when the pandemic hit and borders closed. Then to postpone trips (multiple times) and work on refunds. Then… study. Study what effects the pandemic was having and how my industry was responding. I kept on top of every detail that was changing seemingly day-to-day, and the new policies and procedures that were emerging. Now, I see the fantastic changes that have come about to protect the Traveler. But there are many, many minute details I also had to become an expert in, and so here I answer the most common questions I am hearing now- plus a BONUS answer to a question I am sure is nagging you. I even have a gift for you to at least start the dreaming with those you love!
- Is there really an uptick in travel?
Based upon my own experience and that of my colleagues, YES. Remember, many travelers have money tied up in postponed trips, and they want to get back to them as soon as possible. Plus, people are definitely feeling more confident as the vaccine is rolling out even faster than anticipated and by summer more than half of our population in the US will be vaccinated. More and more countries are opening for travel, and soon the US will be off everyone’s red list. People are getting the jump on that news and booking for the summer and second half of the year. We are seeing increasingly higher levels of online searches for summer travel and beyond. Is this you?
As reported today in the New York Times, Mindy Alena echoes the sentiment of all who have been socially distanced and deprived of family and friends for so long: “We will literally go anywhere, we’re so desperate to travel.” Even more telling are the reasons for travel; yes, people missed vacations, but those vacations MEAN EVEN MORE: “My husband and I are both like: “What are we waiting for? Life is too short’”, Ms Alena stated. Not only are travelers looking for short getaways, they are moving their bucket list wishes to the front of the line, rather than waiting for “some day”. And since the more complicated trips to parts unknown take more lead time to plan and execute anyway (for most), people are reaching out to me to begin that process.
- Is now the time to snap up bargains and deep discounts? Subtext: Airlines and accommodations must be desperate for my business.
Here, the answer is yes (airlines and accommodations- heck, whole countries are eager for you to travel), and NO- prices aren’t going to be low, low, low. It is simple economics- supply and demand. As demand goes back up, so will prices. The discounting after the crash of 2008 taught the industry a big lesson- discounting to bring in tons of people is too hard to make up in the long run while diluting the brand. Think about what the travel industry, one of the largest in the world, has suffered in the past year: a 75% (!) unemployment rate and huge loss – billions- in revenue. My friend Ashish Sanghrajka of Big Five Tours and Expeditions and a business mentor put it this way: “Every year of discounting takes the company 5 years to make up lost revenue.” OK, no deep discount. But will there be short term specials? Yes, and I have some fantastic ones – but they are only for the near term, and not farther out into 2021. The idea is to help and reward those willing to travel now.
But wait, there is a silver lining: The industry loves you, and what I haven’t seen are price increases above what 2021 levels would have been, and many of those are holding for 2022 as well. So, I am asking you to love the industry back and don’t expect it to lose even more money into the future. Those businesses and countries need your dollars not only for recovery but to continue to give the great service they for which had been known. What you will get (and I have experienced this myself in my travels in summer, fall of 2020 and into this year so far) is extreme kindness and gratitude. Your accommodation hosts, your guides and drivers will be so happy to see you and offer you their great service.
- OK, assuming I am ready to think about traveling again, WHERE can I go?
The good news here is that there are places opening up almost every week. Of course, you can start right here, right now in the US and explore all those places you’ve always wanted to. In fact, THIS planning should be done … yesterday… as the bookings in domestic travel are already surging to all-time highs. Those trips to the West, national parks, the coasts, history touring with kids and grandkids…. Time to contact me to do them in private ways for social distancing.
Beyond our borders, there are over 30 countries welcoming US visitors, and more and more are not requiring quarantining once you get there now that PCR and antigen tests are readily available (more on that later).
These are wonderful bucket list places:
Closest to home for those quick getaways: Mexico and Belize, many Caribbean islands
Central America (Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala),
South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru)
Europe: Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia
Middle East: Dubai
Africa: almost all (here there aren’t the record numbers of virus infections- large open spaces create the ultimate in social distancing) *A note about Africa: now IS the time to go if you want to experience safari as it was 20-30 years ago! With few tourists, you will (literally) have safari experiences all to yourself. I took advantage of this in November 2020 and will again twice this year!
Exotic Islands: Maldives, Seychelles are open, as is Tahiti (at the time of this report).
- If I book now, I am worried about the pandemic surging and my trip being canceled. Am I protected?
Remember how I said I have been following all developments in the industry? Well, I align with partners that have new practices to protect my clients. A great travel advisor always knows the cancelation and change policies and can offer proposals to destinations that will not jeopardize your travel investment. As you are aware, many travelers were left in bad situations where they assumed they should get a full refund if they decided not to travel before the airline cancelled their flight, or the country closed its borders. It seemed harsh to use old policies in the wake of a pandemic, but at the time, those were the only terms and conditions imagined. Now for the foreseeable future, cancelation policies can be extremely liberal ad advantageous to the early booker. So, Early Birds are rewarded, as in the fable.
- Here’s the Big Question: Must I Be Vaccinated to Travel?
Right now, many countries are NOT requiring proof of vaccination (and vaccinated doesn’t exclude you from taking the PCR Test to travel). But as more countries are opening up, the trend seems to be they will require proof. There is even talk of a “vaccine passport”. As in the past, children who are too young to get the COVID-19 vaccine are not required to be inoculated from it to travel.
Now, I have heard complaints about this. Is this a brand-new thing, to have proof of being vaccinated? No, indeed. In fact, there are plenty of countries that in the past have required proof of vaccination for such things as yellow fever.So, I can only put it to you this way: yes, getting the vaccine is a choice. But so is travel. As with other required vaccines, I hope that you comply so that you can travel.
Here is your bonus question: WHAT IF I CONTRACT COVID-19 WHILE TRAVELING? MUST I QUARANTINE FOR 14 DAYS BEFORE RETURING HOME?
Remember I told you that I have kept up with all developments in the travel arena as new things develop? Well, here is the good news: normally you DO have to mandatorily quarantine until you test negative (countries won’t release you and airlines won’t accept you should your test positive) BUT THERE IS A WORKAROUND. There is new Covid insurance that will evacuate you home should your contract COVID-19 while traveling. Chances are great you won’t use it; but like a safety net, it is there in case.
TRAVEL ADVISORS, THOSE PROS THAT NEVER STOPPED DURING THE PANDEMIC, ARE MORE IN DEMAND- AND VALUABLE TO YOU- THAN EVER BEFORE
Of course, my best advice is to use a Travel Advisor. Those in-the-know before pandemic understood we save time and your money, add exclusive value to your investment (we increase VALUE, not oversell), and we provide peace of mind. But now we are also the experts in the landscape during and post pandemic. People are using us now for all the details of the hows and wheres to travel safely in the manner and style they want. I can guarantee that once new people work with a good Travel Advisor who is their Global Local in post pandemic times, they will continue to use one going forward in the new landscape and mindset of travel. There is just no substitute for expertise.
So, I hope I have answered at least the most pressing of your questions as we face the future in travel. If you have more, please reach out to me; I promise to provide the most thorough and up-to-date information you require.
Here’s that gift:
Studies have shown that just anticipating a fun life event, such as travel, lifts mood and increases your positive outlook. Why not live in happy anticipation- even if you don’t yet have set dates to travel?I have a fun online platform that can be your tool for looking at destinations on your “wanderlist”, collecting and saving ideas, sharing with other you want to travel with, and have them collaborate as well! It is FREE and will give you a huge head start when you are ready to begin planning. Let’s dream together with Virtuoso Wanderlist. It’s fun, easy and free.
- Discover best of the best travel ideas.
- Add favorites to your travel wish-lists.
- Dream with friends, family and me.
Grab your access here