Should I Book A Vacation For 2021?
If you had to cancel your travel plans in 2020, don’t worry - you’re not alone. Some 72% of Americans skipped their summer vacations this year; to say nothing of all the missed business trips, anniversary getaways and once-in-a-lifetime cruises we all had to sacrifice.
But with news of the coronavirus vaccine continuing to make headlines the world over, it seems that many travellers are already convinced 2021 will be the year to make up for lost time. US travellers are expected to take even more trips next year than in 2019, with an average of 3.58 trips per American in 2021, compared to 3.24 before the pandemic.
Travel agencies have already started to notice this surge, with James Ferrara, president of InteleTravel claiming “We expect to see a full recovery in the first quarter of 2021”.
But with all the uncertainty of the past year, and the global pandemic far from over, the question of booking a vacation for 2021 is still fraught with difficulty. Fortunately, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
Art of the Deal
It’s no secret that many airlines are offering great deals on travel in 2021 as they attempt to recoup their losses after a disastrous year for the industry. As well as offering great prices, many US carriers have also adapted their cancellation and rebooking policies to be as flexible as possible in these times of travel turmoil.
American Airlines, for instance, are waiving fees for flight changes on all domestic routes as well as to a number of international destinations, including Canada, the UK, the Caribbean and most of Central America. The new rules allow business, first class and premium economy customers to adapt their travel plans to suit the changing global situation totally for free.
Other airlines are also offering similar change policies, with United allowing unlimited flight adjustments so that customers can ensure they travel at the best time. However, it is important to bear in mind that if you decide to cancel your flight - even for coronavirus related reasons - most airlines will only offer you vouchers for future travel rather than your money back. So be sure to read the fine print!
It’s also important to remember to book and, if possible, travel early. On top of the huge numbers of pent-up travellers, flight numbers and carrier options may be limited on certain routes next year, potentially leading to big crowds. If you want to avoid the rush, it’s always advisable to book in early and change if you have to.
The Big Sick
Of course you can’t talk about travel next year without mentioning the coronavirus. Even with the vaccines on their way it may be some time before travelling feels like normal again. The CDC this week announced they expect all Americans to have access to the vaccine by the middle of next year, while European governments are saying that cities could be opening up by the spring.
However, as this summer showed travel is still possible under the ‘new-normal’ and there are a wealth of resources available to keep yourself safe while on the move. The CDC and WHO websites have heaps of covid statistics and travel advice, while independent apps like TripIt are using up-to-date infection information to help you chose a destination and plan accordingly.
Ultimately travelling next year is a personal choice that not everyone will feel comfortable with. Fortunately, research is continually showing that travelling can be safe provided you take the proper precautions. A recent study by Harvard’s T.H.Chan School of Public Health found minimal evidence of in-flight coronavirus transmission and only 44 cases of Covid-19 have been officially linked back to air travel since the the pandemic began.
It’s no wonder then that 39% of travellers already reporting feeling ‘very confident’ about travelling next year; compared to just 3% who say they do not feel confident.
Additionally, the decision to travel is about more than just needing a getaway. It’s also about supporting an industry that has been decimated this past year and on which millions of jobs depend.
Beyond the big airlines and hotel chains, the tourism sector is made up of thousands of small businesses - from beachfront bistros to city-centre tour guides. After frontline medical staff, their lives have arguably been hit the hardest by 2020 and it’s important we give them a hand if we can in 2021.