The global pandemic has brought travel to a halt. Thousands of planes have been grounded, countries have shut their borders, and many hotels have closed temporarily. While some people are still travelling to open destinations, it’s fair to say that most of the public are staying home for the time being.
However, even though you may not be comfortable travelling right now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look towards the future. A vaccine is slowly being distributed globally, and there are many deals to be had as the travel industry tries to restart its business. Here’s why you should still plan your trips during the pandemic.
A vaccine is on the way
Both Pfizer and Moderna have COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by many governments around the world. Healthcare workers and those vulnerable to the virus will be the top priority, but eventually, the public will get their doses. While it may take some time before enough people are vaccinated to prevent the spread of COVID, the fact that a vaccine is already here is encouraging.
With a vaccine, many people will likely feel more comfortable travelling again. Countries and airlines will probably make travel easier for people who have received the shot. You’ll likely need documentation to prove that you got the vaccine, but that shouldn’t be an issue. Knowing that a vaccine is on the way will allow you to start making plans for your future travel.
Countries are starting to open up
There have been plenty of travel restrictions worldwide, but many countries are starting to open up. For example, most of the Caribbean is open since they did an excellent job of containing the virus.
That said, there are still strict protocols in place. Many of the islands require you to provide a negative COVID result within 72 hours of departure. Once you land, you may have to take another COVID test and self-isolate in your hotel room until a negative test is returned.
Over in Europe, the European Union has been updating its safe countries list for quite some time. If they believe that your home country has COVID under control, they’ll allow you in. However, this list changes every few weeks, so you need to stay up to date.
Once the vaccine is widely distributed and COVID numbers start to drop, you can expect more countries to open. This would allow you to consider more destinations that weren’t an option before.
You may have benefits that need to be used up
If you have a premium travel credit card, you may have travel credits that need to be used up. For example, my American Express Platinum Card comes with an annual travel credit of $200. While I have no intention of travelling soon, I did book a hotel for an anticipated trip in 2021. This allowed me to use my credit before it expired. This hotel is fully refundable, so I have options if I need to cancel.
Take a look at your travel credit cards and see what annual benefits you get. That include resort credits, companion vouchers, free nights, and more. Next, you want to find out what the terms and conditions are. Generally speaking, you’ll only have one year to use those benefits. Still, nothing is stopping you from using it on future travel. Sometimes gift cards count as a qualifying purchase for travel credits, so you’re essentially cashing out for something you can use later.
There have been a lot of sales
It’s no secret that tourism has been down. Airlines, hotels, tour operators, and anyone connected to the industry has seen massive declines in bookings. The easiest way to get people to start thinking about travel again is to have a sale. Some of these promotions had specific dates, but others were very flexible.
Marriott International had multiple promotions where you could get 15-20% off gift cards. Since gift cards don’t expire, you could take advantage of the deal and then use the gift cards when you’re ready to travel. Cruise ships also saw massive sales since they were in the news for the wrong reasons during the pandemic. To get people onboard again, they offered upgrades worth $1,500+ for free.
The downside of taking advantage of these sales is that you’re tying your money up in advance. Travel companies need the cash injection, and they’re offering you a discount for it.
There are some incredible welcome bonuses
The pandemic has also created a unique situation where not only tourism is down, but so are credit card applications. This was a double whammy, but it did make an exciting opportunity for many travellers. To attract people to sign up, incredible welcome bonuses were made available to the public.
In the US, there was the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express that came with a welcome bonus worth up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That was one of the best offers ever seen, so it was well worth signing up for. Over in Canada, the American Express Business Platinum Card had a welcome offer of up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points. That wasn’t nearly as impressive as what was available in the US, but by Canadian standards, that was pretty good.
It’s important to note that these offers come and go. If you want to take advantage, you need to sign up right away. Wait too long, and the deal may be gone forever.
It may take time before you’re ready to travel again
The reality is that travelling may never be the same, and it may still be some time before you’re ready to get on a plane. While you wait things out, you might as well start planning any future trips you have in mind. That doesn’t mean you need to start putting down deposits or booking your airfare. It might be something simple such as researching destinations.
Since you’re working with an open calendar, it’s a good idea to look at your bucket list and see what your top priorities are. You’ll want to not only research costs, but also the ideal times to visit. With this information, you’ll be ready to book right away when you’re prepared to do so.
Planning travel during a pandemic may seem irresponsible to some people, but no one said you must travel while there are restrictions in place. Do your research now and take advantage of any deals. If you’re going to book something, make sure you read the terms and conditions in case you need to cancel later.