Pursuing your travel goals when you can't travel

Travel is about discovery. A world of adventure—and meaningful connections that allow you to experience surroundings in new ways—is appealing to many. In a survey conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, baby boomers said they expected to take between three and four domestic trips and one or two abroad in 2020. 1
 
But in these unprecedented times, most of the world is staying home. That’s especially frustrating for anyone who has been planning, saving and dreaming about the perfect getaway. If you have travel already scheduled, your first step should be to determine what your options are for rescheduling your trip or getting any money back.
 
Still, the times we live in offer new opportunities. You can grow your travel funds by continuing to save and invest. And to fill the void while you’re at home, take advantage of digital experiences that can allow you to make deep connections with people, art, music and food from around the globe.
 

Determine your options for current plans

 
What happens if you already have a trip booked that can no longer happen?
 
Start by reaching out to your travel provider to figure out your options. That means contacting the specific airline, your travel agent, or a third-party booking agency.
 
Each will likely have different policies about things like refunds, elimination of cancellation fees or flight credits for future use. Because the pandemic remains a fluid situation, you should contact your travel provider sooner rather than later.
 
If you’re considering future travel, you may be able to find great deals right now on flights all over the world. However, keep in mind that every region of the globe may be recovering at a different speed, so make sure you build flexibility into any new trips you book—this may also be a good time to consider travel insurance.

How the coronavirus is affecting travel plans

53% of Americans think they will delay their next vacation until 2021 due to concerns over the coronavirus.1
*Represents average durations given by survey respondents
1COVID-19 Travel Industry Research, ustravel.org, as of May, 2020
2"Travel Changed After 9/11; Here's How It Will Look After the COVID-19 Pandemic Finally recedes", CNBC.com, 2020
3"Poll: Americans Are Wary About Traveling After COVID-19 Curve Flattens", Forbes.com, 2020

Boost your travel savings

 
Life changes typically require revisiting your budget. You may be spending more on groceries but less on eating out. If you’re delaying travel plans, you may be able to use money you’re saving in other budget areas to increase your travel savings. Consider the time frame in which you expect to use the money when deciding whether to save it in an interest-bearing savings account or CD or invest it in the market.
 
For example, if you want to build toward a milestone anniversary trip a few years down the road, investing may give you the chance to grow your money over time. If, however, you want to take a trip as soon as restrictions begin to lift, you may decide on an investment like a CD, with less risk. Your TIAA advisor can help you determine how to best pursue your goals.
 

Explore the world at home

 
While you’re at home and increasing your fund for future travel opportunities, feed your wanderlust creatively: Of course, you can read books about far-flung locales—from the wilds of the Serengeti to the Great Wall of China—but technology also provides ways for us to experience the beauty and majesty of other places and cultures.
 
You can tour 2,000 famous museums from the comfort of your living room. Google Arts & Culture  can connect you to everything from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands (the largest collection of his paintings, drawings and letters), to The Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City—and even the Museo Botero in Bogotá, Colombia.
 
Likewise, many musical acts, including Neil Young and the Berlin Philharmonic, have already livestreamed concerts or scheduled special sessions on YouTube to perform for fans. Search for your favorite performers to see if they have upcoming shows or simply to relive memories of your favorite concerts from the past. 
 
Finally, since we’re mostly staying home, and travel continues to be limited, take the time to be a tourist in your hometown. Take long drives on winding roads in the country. There are plenty of apps that will help you find nearby trails and hikes you didn’t know existed. After returning home, try a new recipe from the place you plan on visiting next.
 
Even if your travel dreams are on hold, you can still make smart financial moves to help make your next trip a success. And the experiences you can have from your own home may encourage you to try an entirely new adventure in the future.
1Boomers Have Big Travel Plans in 2020”, aarp.org, 2020
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