For us travel enthusiasts, the ongoing pandemic has left us waiting for the moment when it’s safe and responsible to plan travel again – better yet to be able to take the trip we plan. With vaccination programs well underway and talks of vaccine passports or other necessary documentation to safely return to travel, we’re feeling more confident that we will be able to responsibly travel in 2021.
So how can you start preparing and planning for a return to travel this year? We’ve outlined the key points and considerations you’ll need to be aware of when planning your first post-pandemic trip. This post will be referencing travel to Europe specifically, but the same principles can be applied to travel planning to any destination in 2021. Let’s get into it!
How to Safely And Responsibly Plan Travel to Europe in 2021
Selecting When To Travel
At the present moment, Americans are not allowed to travel to Europe, but things are looking hopeful for the summer season. The UK recently announced a plan to return to travel by May 17 and many countries are looking to follow suit.
The CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Gloria Guevara, recently stated that tourism would have to learn to coexist with the virus and they’re expecting a surge in European travel over the summer.
So When Should You Book Travel For?
The earliest date to travel to Europe from the US would likely be the end of May, with the rest of the year looking promising! So with that in mind, when should you book your travel?
Determining When To Book
As things are looking up for the summer, many tour operators, hotels, and transportation companies are offering discounts for those who are willing to book in advance of having 100% certainty that they will be able to travel. Most are offering risk-free booking (we’ll get into that later) so that you’re not taking the chance of losing your money.
A few things to take note of:
- When it is officially announced that the borders are opening up – you can anticipate that prices will sky-rocket in-line with the huge amount of demand. People miss traveling!
- In general, prices for 2021 and beyond are expected to be slightly more expensive to recoup over a year’s worth of losses. So expect that prices might not match what you had previously seen pre-pandemic.
Protecting Your Investment
Risk-Free Bookings – Be Sure to Read the Fine Print
When you decide to plan for a trip in 2021 it’s important to book in a way that doesn’t leave your money on the line should you have to cancel your trip. Many airlines, tour operators (like us!), hotels, and more are offering risk-free bookings so that you don’t lose money on travel you never get to take. Be sure to read the terms and conditions thoroughly and confirm any language you’re unsure of before booking so you’re clear on what you’re agreeing to.
Not all organizations have the same terms in place so while some may offer you a travel credit for a future trip if you’re looking for a full or partial refund of your money be sure that it is clearly stated – making note of any potential deadlines to secure a refund.
While we always recommend you have travel insurance when going abroad, we extra recommend it during these pandemic times. In addition to any travel insurance that may be included on your travel credit card – get supplemental coverage so in the case of having to cancel, interrupt your trip, or potentially be exposed to the virus, you’re completely covered.
Pre-Trip Materials & Required Documentation
Currently, there is no official “vaccine passport” or “vaccine certification” program that has been put in place by the European Union, but some countries like Greece are in the process of issuing vaccine certifications in anticipation of this happening in the future.
EU leaders are split on the possibility of vaccine passports for a couple of reasons:
- Some want an EU-wide approach as opposed to country-specific certifications
- Some want to include those who have COVID-19 antibodies or produce a negative test prior to travel to be included in the certificate program
- Some argue that vaccine certificates are “discriminatory” to those who aren’t yet eligible to be vaccinated in their home country’s vaccination program
We believe over the next month we will have many more answers to these questions and will update this post as new information becomes available.
So how do you feel about safely and responsibly starting to plan travel in 2021? As travel enthusiasts, we’re hopeful that this year we’ll have the ability to share Europe with our American travelers once again!
What other considerations are you making before booking a trip to Europe (or elsewhere!) in 2021? Let us know in the comments.