It may not be surprising these days, but the state of travel in 2021 remains ever so fluid. While vaccination numbers are increasing and people are ready to hit the road again, much uncertainty still exists in the world of travel.
If you are considering planning your own ‘vaxication’ trip in the near future – here are some top tips you should keep in mind:
Start planning NOW. Travel is back and demand is soaring. Many destinations, like US National Parks, are booked for the summer already, while others, such as the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii, are quickly filling. For the best rates and availability, do not wait until the last minute to book your trip.
Understand the protocols. Travel protocols differ between counties, states, and countries – and are constantly changing. Make sure you are up to date on the latest entry requirements for your destination and are clear about how any COVID restrictions will impact the quality of your trip. For instance, masks may not be required in your town, but be prepared for strict mandates elsewhere. Looking to travel outside of the US? Remember you will need a COVID test to return, regardless of whether you are vaccinated or not.
Know your booking terms. While most airlines and hotels are maintaining flexible booking options, not every fare or rate is the same – so buyer beware. Make sure you have a clear understanding of all cancellation policies before locking yourself into a booking. Travel insurance is always highly recommended to protect your travel investment.
Have a plan.Travel today isn’t the same as pre-pandemic, so you will need to think through your entire itinerary down to the smallest detail. The rental car shortage is real, so don’t arrive in Maui or Jackson Hole this summer expecting spare cars to be around. Many restaurants still have limited seating capacity, so be sure to make dining reservations in advance to avoid last-minute frustrations. Need a COVID test for travel? You should plan to book those in advance as well to ensure you can get your test results in time. Looking to enjoy your hotel’s pool or gym? Yup, some resorts require reservations for access – so check ahead and plan accordingly. Trust me, you don’t want to show up to your much-anticipated getaway to find that everything is already booked up!
Remain flexible. While you need a detailed travel plan, beware that your plans will likely change a handful of times before you arrive. Flight schedules have been constantly changing, local regulations are always shifting – stay vigilant and just go with the flow!
Forget the past. Though you may be able to travel again, the world is still a very different place than before. Don’t compare your past travel experiences to your current trip. Everyone is adapting to the new normal of this world, so some things may not be as they once were – but that’s ok. Just because some hotel amenities have not returned, or housekeeping is no longer daily, it doesn’t mean the trip will be ruined. It is also important to remember that the majority of hospitality workers were let go from their jobs at some point over the past year, so rehiring, retraining, and getting back into the flow of this new environment can take time. Many places (especially airports and airlines) are not staffed to the levels of 2019, but demand is even higher than before – patience is going to be crucial. While service levels may not be what you envision, try to remain grateful that at least after a very long year+, you are not serving your own dinner or making your own bed!
Work with a Travel Advisor. Feeling overwhelmed about all of the above? Traveling these days can be a lot, I know. Navigating this new normal can be ambiguous and time-consuming, but travel advisors are traversing through this new environment daily – so utilize an expert! Having easy access to countless booking websites and blogs can often provide the false impression that travel should be a DIY task. Trips are an investment – if you would trust a financial advisor with your investments or an interior decorator with your home décor, why not turn to an expert for your travel? Don’t leave your precious vacation days and travel budget to chance.
Overall, the return of travel is an exciting time and something wonderful to look forward to. Though there may be more planning to think about, and a few hoops to jump through – getting back to exploring the world again with those you love is sure to be worth it!
Andrea Schubiner is the Founder of Wanderful Journeys, a boutique travel advisory service that specializes in designing unique itineraries filled with enriching, off-the-beaten-path experiences, coupled with luxury service. Wanderful Journeys was founded as a vehicle to share Andrea’s love of traveling with others. A true citizen of the world, Andrea has journeyed across 95 countries and has visited over 250 cities on 6 continents. A native Detroiter, Andrea has been fortunate to also call New York, Chicago, Johannesburg, and London ‘home’ over the years. After receiving a BBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Andrea has turned her experience as a marketing professional and as a management consultant at Bain & Company, into an entrepreneurial endeavor. Her passion for adventure and severe wanderlust has molded her into an expert on all things travel.