Is now the right time to plan for travel?

You may be able to plan a future trip at a deep discount while waiting until you’re comfortable to take your vacation.

Is it too soon to think about traveling again? That’s a question you might be asking yourself as more people get vaccinated for coronavirus. You’re not alone. On the day Pfizer’s vaccine was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration in December, the number of hotel bookings suddenly climbed.1 RateGain, a company that runs bookings for travel websites, said it was the largest jump in daily bookings since March 2020.2
But how soon is too soon to travel? It’s still unclear when the U.S. and other nations will reach a point where travel feels safe again. But planning now for travel sometime in the future could be an option, especially if you invest in travel insurance or take other steps to help ensure you’ll get a refund if you end up not wanting to take the trip when the time comes. And it could also yield some big savings to boot. Some hotels, airlines and cruise lines are offering better deals now than ever before, with assurances that you won’t need to travel until 2023 in some cases to take advantage of those bargains.

How to avoid losing money if you have to cancel

If you’re thinking about taking advantage of a great deal now, be sure to take precautions to protect yourself in case your trip is canceled. For example:
  • Look for flexible terms. Since the pandemic, airlines have increasingly become more consumer-friendly by waiving cancellation penalties and letting travelers rebook trips without fees. That also includes airlines extending their deadlines for using credits. But it’s important to review the cancellation policy fine print before booking a trip. A recent Department of Transportation report showed problems getting refunds was the number one complaint about airlines.3
  • Pay with points or frequent flier miles. According to travel experts, now could be the time to use those points. That way, not only are you avoiding spending cash, but if you’re forced to cancel, it’s unlikely you would have been able to use those points anyway. Also keep in mind that once travel returns to pre-COVID-19 levels, you can expect a drop in the value of points should airlines and hotels increase their point thresholds for tickets and rooms.​
  • Consider paying by credit card. Using your credit card to book a trip offers financial protection compared to cash. That’s because if a travel company goes out of business and you’ve already paid for the trip, you can dispute the charge with the credit card company. Some creditors also offer a variety of travel protections, including perks that cover cancellations, delays, interruptions, and lost and damaged bags.
You may not be able to travel anytime soon. But it may not be too early to at least start planning for it. “If people could travel, they would,” says Perry Flint, spokesperson for the International Air Transport Association. “We saw that throughout the year with spikes and falls in reservations as countries lifted and then reimposed quarantines.”

Vaccines boost hope for travel in the future

Source: Reuters Health

Options for easing back into travel

If you have wanderlust but are hesitant to be around others, there may be ways to ease yourself back into traveling.
Consider road trips. Traveling shorter distances in your own vehicle means you can avoid airports or other forms of transport that have a lot of people in a smaller area.
Sanitize while you go. Check with potential hotels to see what their policies are during these times. Are they doing extra cleaning, or not using certain rooms to help with distancing? Consider bringing your own sanitizing wipes to avoid contact with common-area surfaces, and wash your hands frequently.
Look for open areas. National parks and other outdoor spaces may help you avoid crowds and give you plenty of distance to spread out while enjoying a new locale.
For the latest on best practices while traveling, the Centers for Disease Control offers updated information and tips.

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