It’s no secret that we could all use a vacation. But is it safe? Where should we go? Today, Christina Vieira, Travel Advisor and owner of Showcase the World is breaking down the answers to all your travel questions. Christina specializes in planning personalized trips for modern families. And fun fact: she was the first mom we interviewed for our Meet a Mom Series when this site launched in 2019. Read her interview here then keep reading for her guest post below.
Planning a Return to Travel
If you like to travel, the odds are high you’ve had to cancel or postpone a trip, or several, due to the risks and travel restrictions imposed due to Coronavirus — you’re no doubt disappointed.
I also had to reschedule several much-anticipated trips, including a twenty year in the making, once in a lifetime charter of the Greek islands.
But now, as vaccines are rolling out, you may be looking forward to the summer months and beyond and are wondering, “Should I think about booking a trip for a future date right now?”
Should you travel now?
It is all up to your level of comfort. Restrictions still vary widely across the world, and even stare by state. It is possible to travel domestically and even internationally to some locations. The CDC continues to recommend against travel right now, but I have seen a huge uptick in client trips for the next few months. Most returning clients have felt safer at their destination than in their local grocery stores.
Air travel is still cautioned by the CDC because of the unavoidable contact with other people in airports and aboard flights, although there are very few documented cases of on board transmission. The advanced air filtration used on commercial airliners–plus mask mandates on planes–has drastically reduced the risk. It is important to note that many airlines have resumed booking middle seats (except Delta which will begin May 1.)
Understand Cancellation Policies
The very first thing you should do before you book anything is to make sure you know the cancellation and change policies for all of the components of your vacation. Start by asking how much of your deposit is refundable and know what date you need to cancel by to get your money back. New flexible booking policies with airlines make it pretty easy to reschedule, but airlines have lost a lot of money because of the pandemic so they’re not making it easy to get a refund. It’s best to book with the knowledge that if you have to reschedule and you might be left with a voucher. Hotels are often more flexible with refunds available up to 24 hours prior to check in.
Know What Travel Insurance Covers
Travel Insurance is not one size fits all. There are as many nuances between providers and plans as health insurance. Before you click the box when you are booking and add whatever your cruise line or tour operator offers make sure you know what it covers. It is an added cost, a standard cancellation policy costs about 7%-10% of the insured trip cost. I really recommend working with an Insurance Agent to find the right fit. It is important to note most travel insurance will not cover global pandemics, acts of god, unrest and much more, that is why adding a CFAR waiver is becoming more popular. CFAR or cancel for any reason allows you to do just that. It does add an additional 3-4% for that flexibility and protection.
Don’t Assume your credit card has you covered even if the taut travel protection. Most credit cards don’t provide trip cancellation or built-in medical coverage, nor will credit cards reimburse for inconveniences caused by travel delays. Your credit card may cover some costs associated with baggage delay or damage, but only if you purchased your trip with that credit card.
If You’re Planning any Post-Pandemic Trips, Book Now.
It’s unlikely you will ever see better prices, availability and perks again, just make sure it’s a flexible booking that you can change for any reason. If you wait until the pandemic has stabilized will likely miss out on the vacation you are dreaming of. There is over a year of pent-up demand for travel, availability will be limited and with demand outweighing supply and suppliers trying to make up for a year of loss, prices will rocket! I am already seeing some availability issues for some places into 2022. Even if you are usually a last minute traveler, you may want to consider starting to plan now.
Make Sure You Are Comfortable
You may be inclined to rent a house or book an AirBnB to have your own space, away from others, but with no regulation on owner rented properties, there is no way to ensure proper sanitation has occurred between guests. (They are also less flexible when it comes to cancellation.) This is not the time to look for the best “deal” at a no-name resort. You will want to spend a little more on airlines and accommodations that you know are adhering to safety protocol. Many resorts in popular destinations like Cancun and Aruba are offering COVID tests right at the hotel to make re-entry into the US even easier.
Know the Restrictions and Requirements
In a great many cases, you will need a negative Covid-19 test before you travel. It is a good idea to know where in your hometown and in your destination you can get the test you need by appointment. The time frame for getting a test before departure varies by destination and there can be requirements around the type of test or the testing provider, as is the case for Hawaii. Not every destination requires a test. For example, Mexico has one of the world’s most relaxed travel policies. The country currently does not require testing or quarantine for international arrivals.
Even beyond testing you will want to know what restrictions are in place in your destination. Attractions and activities you may have been looking forward to may be closed or modified. CNN has a great breakdown of the current restrictions in each state.
Don’t Forget Your Safety Precautions
Vacations have always been a great way to forget your worries and leave everything behind. It is important to continue to be aware and keep up the practices we have all adopted to decrease risk. Vigilant hand hygiene, social distancing and mask use are should be continued. Also avoiding crowded indoor spaces will help you and your family stay healthy.
Use a Travel Advisor
Using a travel advisor means you don’t have to navigate this all on your own. You will have someone to walk you through cancellation policies, offer travel insurance suggestions and let you know of any CDC advisory changes.
If you want to know where you can travel and what their regulations are, follow me on Instagram @showcasetheworldtravel. Every Tuesday I share a Covid Travel Tip and on Thursdays I highlight a destination in my stories, for past tips check it out.
Where You Should Go
If you are looking for a quick getaway to finally be somewhere, anywhere other than your own home then I recommend Puerto Rico or Mexico. Both have relaxed entry requirements (and because Puerto Rico is a US territory you don’t even need to test to get back.) They both have beautiful beaches and properties that are reasonably priced right now. Aruba and the USVI are extremely popular for the summer and availability is limited so prices are a little higher than normal.
If you feel more comfortable staying in the US both Florida and Hawaii are open to tourists with hotels increasing cleaning procedures and private activities available for booking. I also like Hilton Head or San Antonio for fun family trips. National Parks have seen a huge increase in popularity so they are extremely difficult to book you may want to hold off on that trip for a year or two.
You have had so many disappointments this past year, have saved money from not going to concerts or even out to eat so this is the year to go BIG. Bucket list destinations like Costa Rica, Belize, Morocco and South Africa are open to US tourists, have some of the lowest infection rates and best policies and procedures.
Feel better waiting until 2022? Consider supporting a country that relies primarily on tourism dollars like Greece, the Maldives, Spain, and Grenada.
Been putting off that Disney trip? It’s important to book early. Disney has only opened about a third of their resorts so availability for the summer and beyond is already limited. Disney is requiring park reservations be made so they can control capacity and those are filling up about 1-2 months in advance with many people being turned away at the gate. It would break my heart if you were one of those people so please check the availability calendar BEFORE you buy tickets or work with a travel advisor who can help you navigate it all. Between the 50th Anniversary celebration starting in October 2021 and pent up demand it is going to be really difficult to get particular resorts so if you are thinking of a 2022 trip reach out and schedule a call with me TODAY.
What about cruising? We are still unsure of when cruising will resume. The CDC currently has a conditional order in place and cruise lines are doing their best to meet them and hope to be able to sail this summer. Some cruise lines are already experimenting with cruises leaving from Caribbean islands with all passengers onboard fully vaccinated. Most cruise lines have opened 2022 and even 2023 for booking and you will get some of the best pricing by booking early.
A big thank you to Christina for sharing all of this information with our community. If you have any additional questions for her, please check out her website at showcasetheworld.com, or find her on Instagram @showcasetheworldtravel and Facebook at @showcasetheworldtravel. She is also offering a fun week of Virtual Vacations for April school break where she has put together four exciting virtual events that mimic a Disney trip itinerary for your entire family. Check the programs out at showcasetheworld.lpages.co/virtual-vacation-week. Every family can attend one event FOR FREE! Additional events are $17. Plus on each call one family will be selected to receive one month of her new 6 month Disney Vacation Planning Subscription Boxes.