Excited about touring in 2021? Give you a Plan B for lockdowns
If you are planning on going somewhere soon, here’s some advice: don’t listen to the advice.
It’s out of date and maybe dangerous. The travel rules for 2021 have changed. Ignore the talking heads. You don’t need travel tips for the next year – you need a survival guide.
“Anything can happen while traveling,” says Daniel Durazo, spokesman for Allianz Travel.
But nothing has to happen to you. Taking some precautions and planning ahead can avoid most problems. You need the right insurance and backup plan – and you need to book with the right companies.
How will you travel in 2021?
Here’s a travel survival guide for the next year:
Caution. This is the advice of Melissa DaSilva, President of Trafalgar. “Do thorough research to make informed decisions,” she says. “The world is not taboo and the local economy needs your support more than ever.” But it is important to be accountable and educate yourself about all the policies, restrictions, and health procedures required along the way. “In other words, 2021 won’t be the year for an impromptu trip. Not yet with the pandemic with us.
Plan ahead. “That’s the key,” says Linda Bendt, owner of Pique Travel, a travel agency in Minneapolis. “We have two years of travel time in six to nine months – assuming things start to pick up in the second quarter of next year.” She says that at peak times, flights will be full, hotels will be fully booked and car rental companies will run out of vehicles. If you don’t plan, you’ll be stuck with another stay.
Learn how COVID-19 affected your goal. If you think Coronavirus used a number for you, then you should check your destination. “Most people probably don’t think about how much the downtime has hurt the economy in places that depend on tourism,” said Mike Hallman, CEO of medical transportation and travel security company Medjet. “It has had an impact on crime in many places.” If you are unsure about the place you are visiting, Hallmann recommends reading the latest US State Department travel advice, which includes detailed information on potential dangers in other countries. Official tourism websites are also good resources as they usually list the current travel restrictions for these destinations.
Read the fine print on your travel insurance. Most American travelers don’t know that their health insurance will only work overseas if they take special precautions, says Christine Buggy, vice president of marketing at Travelex Insurance. “Most US health insurance companies don’t offer insurance outside of the country, which can result in a traveler being billed large in the event of a medical emergency,” she says. She recommends looking for coverage that treats COVID-19 like any other disease and doesn’t rule out the pandemic.
Expect more bans. Do you have a plan in case you get stuck somewhere? Your 2021 travel survival guide should include one. “Travelers should consider trips that can be planned to stay with friends and family, with the option of staying at hotels later,” advises Christina Tunnah, general manager for America at World Nomads. Her tip: Sign up for hotel and airline newsletters so you can find the best price on accommodation and transportation if another pandemic hits.
Know when to go – – and when to stay. If there’s a vaccine next year, there won’t be an instant cure. Some parts of the world will recover faster than others. “If you’re planning on traveling, your best bet is to visit areas with low levels of COVID-19 activity,” said Zulfah Albertyn-Blanchard, health intelligence analyst at WorldAware, a security company. “This will make it less likely that you will infect someone else or infect yourself while traveling.” How do you find out if a place is safe? Start with the State Department and CDC travel advice. And if there’s a travel ban, that’s a good sign that you should wait.
Have a backup plan. Before the pandemic, many travelers took vacation without Plan B. Don’t do that in 2021, advises Sherry Sutton, vice president of marketing and communications at Travel Insured International. “Have a backup plan,” she advises. This includes a checklist of what to do if you get in trouble, from emergency contacts to direct numbers for your travel insurance company. And when your destination closes, you know what you’re going to do to save the vacation.
Surviving 2021 not only requires new skills, but also the right attitude. Hit the streets with a 2019 attitude and you might regret it, travel experts say.
“Traveling in the near future will require flexibility as we continue to manage this pandemic,” said Jessica O’Riley, a spokeswoman for Travel Iowa. “Pack your patience.”
The best of traveling in 2021
The best airlines and hotels: those with flexible policies. “Make sure you have a problem with anything you book,” says Kirsten Peterson, owner and senior travel advisor for the Peterson Travel Group in Chicago. “Situations and conditions change quickly.” For example, airlines like Southwest Airlines have a well-earned reputation for being transparent and free of onerous charges.
The best travel insurance: “Cancel for any reason.” That’s the opinion of Jeremy Murchland, President of Seven Corners, a travel insurance company. You can cancel your trip for any reason. “If you are required to cancel, you will be reimbursed up to 75% of the non-refundable travel expenses,” he says. Cancellation for any reason is a little more expensive – between 10% and 12% of the travel cost, about twice as expensive as regular insurance. But if you have to cancel because of another outbreak, it’s worth it.
The best plan: One from a professional. Experts say your 2021 travel survival guide should include a professional travel advisor. An agent can help you overcome the uncertainty of traveling for the next year. Whether you’re traveling out of state or out of the country, a professional can make sure that all of your records are in order. “You may need to have negative test results on hand to enter certain states or countries,” said Andrew Williams, executive director of Travel At Will, a Houston travel agent. “Other destinations may have mandatory self-quarantine times on arrival.”