Will you be able to travel in 2021? Here's what you need to know:
With the COVID-19 vaccine rolling out across the world, people are starting to think about booking vacations again. But even with light appearing at the end of the tunnel, should you feel safe about making 2021 travel reservations?
“I really want to book a trip so I have something to look forward to, but it feels too uncertain right now,” said Kim Easton, who was a semi-frequent traveler before the pandemic. “I am waiting to be vaccinated and, honestly, for Dr. Fauci to tell me it’s safe.”
Plan for later in the year
Most travel experts suggest making plans for later in the year now. Most people currently planning trips are eyeing summer and later departures, says Justin Wood, REI’s Senior Manager of Adventure Travel. If complications arise, clients can always cancel or reschedule, often with no financial penalty. (More on this later.)
REI Travel began running trips again toward the end of last year, following expert-recommended precautions – mask wearing, social distancing, daily temperature taking, and so on. Even with the vaccine being rolled out, expect most outfitters to continue these practices for at least the remainder of 2021, and maybe a few more pre-booking requirements added. Some companies might mandate quarantining and a negative test right before departure, while others, later in the year, may require proof that the traveler has received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Trips that require gathering in crowded, indoor spaces should probably be avoided for the foreseeable future. Outdoor-adventure trips, like bike touring or hiking a remote national forest, may be the safest option, with the necessary precautions in place.
Where To Go?
Budget Travel recommends planning all 2021 travel within the USA - we've been helping people Rediscover America since the pandemic began. International borders are largely closed to American travelers, with no timeframes for reopening.
Because of the unpredictable nature of the virus, places that are safe at the time of booking might be hot spots by the time your vacation rolls around. Countries that had done remarkable jobs mitigating the virus early on – Japan and South Korea, for example – saw their number of infections rise as the temperatures fell and people began spending more time indoors.
“My feeling is that people won’t think seriously about booking international tours until we’re reached a critical mass of vaccinated people — not necessarily herd immunity but enough to see all the numbers starting to decrease,” said Jim Johnson, owner of BikeTours.com, which offers clients one-stop shopping for nearly 70 bike tour companies across Europe. “Of course, borders need to be open as well. But don’t wait too long to book international tours. Many Americans don’t realize that many European tour companies have at least passable fall seasons. I’d recommend that people book now (after) checking the cancellation and postponement policies of the tour company.”
But domestic travel doesn’t come without risks either. Don’t automatically assume most precautions will be eased or lifted by the end of the year. So far, the U.S. vaccine rollout has gone much slower than anticipated (although that’s likely to change with the new administration) and an unfortunately large number of people have announced they intend to not get the shots. Please closely follow the CDC and the health department of your destination to find out the most up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Focus on Activity, Not Destination
While the pandemic rages, Wood says travelers are booking travel based on activities – say hiking, cycling, and paddling – more so than specific destinations.
“By their very nature, bicycle tours consist of small groups maintaining their distance most of the day,” Johnson said. “This is especially true on self-guided tours where you ride with people you know and choose when and where to stop. Likewise, bike tours take place outdoors in open spaces, and frequently in rural settings. Lower concentrations of people and freer flow of air both reduce contagion.”
Many outfitters already focused on small-group travel before the pandemic, and those groups may get even smaller in 2021.Wood says private departures for families and close friends are increasing popular, as REI has dropped the price, making it comparable to a standard group trip.
Self-guided trips, where individuals or small groups travel on their own using a pre-created itinerary, have also increased in popularity during the pandemic and will likely continue to be one of the preferred ways to travel in 2021, Johnson says. As the pandemic continues to rage on, Johnson established a sister company, Bike the South (https://www.bike-the-south.com/), that will offer guided, self-guided and supported bicycle tours in the Southeast. That site will launch later this month and start tours in April.
Will You Be Able to Get Your Money Back If Covid is Still Raging?
Most domestic airlines are forgoing change or cancellation fees until at least March 31 (assuming your new departure dates are within a year of the originals) and may extend the policy further into 2021. Be sure to search the airline’s website for specific details before you book your flight.
Many large hotel chains had fairly lenient cancellation policies even before the pandemic. But if you’re staying at an independently owned hotel or airbnb, you may not be able to cancel without incurring a penalty. Likewise, outfitters will have their own individual cancellation policies.
Buying travel insurance might seem like a wise precaution, but beware. While it might help you if you’re diagnosed with Covid before or during your trip, you may be out of luck if you get cold feet because your vacation location is in the middle of a pandemic hot spot. Before buying a policy, be sure to check the policy or discuss with an agent your concerns.
How badly do you want to travel? 38% would give up sex.
Read the full press release below: DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY – February 17, 2021 – After a year that changed everything, it’s clear that modern travel has been profoundly altered, perhaps forever. As the vaccine rollout continues and restrictions begin to lift in parts of the globe, eager travelers everywhere wait patiently for the clear signal to be able to getaway and adventure once again. Global accommodations search platform trivago recently conducted a survey to see how consumers are planning, dreaming and considering travel in 2021. The consumer omnibus survey, conducted from Jan. 3-9, polled more than 2,000 adults in the U.S. and U.K. The results reveal significant desires to travel, including what consumers would give up, what they’d like to do and where they’d like to go, as well as why they’d like to get back on the road. We’d Give Up A Lot to Travel Again Thinking about their first trip after the pandemic, majorities say it makes them feel “excited” (US, 56%; UK, 54%) and/or “happy” (US, 53%; UK, 52%). In fact, we’re so desperate to travel, 25% of both Britons and Americans say they’d give up all their savings to do it now, and around two-fifths (US, 38%; UK, 40%) say they’d give up sex for a year to get on the road right away. One in five said they would give up their partner to travel now, and even more telling, nearly half would give up their job (US, 48%; UK, 41%). It’s clear that travel plays a massive role in our lives and overall happiness. 2020 Made Us Focus on Self-Care, But How Does Travel Fit In? More than 80% of those surveyed somewhat or strongly agree that travel is a part of a well-rounded life. The concept of travel as a form of selfcare/wellness and to expand one’s perspective is one that continues to grow. In both countries substantial majorities say that being prevented from traveling freely is one of the worst aspects of the pandemic (US, 81%; UK, 82%) and that because of the pandemic this is the most they’ve ever felt like traveling (US, 58%; UK, 61%). Increasingly, we see emotional wellbeing as another driver for travel and the need to get away. When they do travel, respondents appear likely to incorporate new interests – more than half (US, 57%; UK, 56%) say they’ve picked up a new hobby since the start of the pandemic, with most who’ve done so expressing surprise at their newfound passion. The vast majority of those (US, 68%; UK, 64%) think it’s at least somewhat likely they’ll pick a vacation connected to the new hobby once the pandemic ends. Given all this, a travel boom post-pandemic appears likely as consumers strive to make up for lost time. The Definition of a Dream Vacation Has Changed The typical idea of a big trip or vacation – planned ahead and saved for – is becoming obsolete with travel restrictions and the ability to plan ahead all but impossible. In addition, the isolation and distance of lockdowns has changed the dynamic of dream vacations as we think of them. The #1 choice for Americans and Britons for their “dream vacation” was a chance to spend “time with the family and friends I’ve missed” (US, 26%; UK, 34%), with this particularly high with seniors in each country (US, 35%; UK, 47%). Overall, traveling again is inevitable. More than 4 in 5 of the respondents (US, 84%; UK, 87%) see travel as fundamental to a good life and two-thirds or more (US, 72%; UK, 66%) say they plan to travel even more than they have in the past once the pandemic ends. While you’re dreaming of that special trip, you don’t have to stay put. Local getaways, weekend road trips and “staycations” can be enjoyed safely with proper planning and precautions. trivago will soon offer a tool specific to inspiration and booking options for local trips, to get you back on the road nearby. To learn more, visit trivago.com.
CDC gives green light for vaccinated people to travel
The Centers for Disease Control has (finally!) released guidance for Americans ready to travel again after the COVID-19 pandemic. Fully vaccinated travelers are now considered low-risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. The guidelines are only for domestic travel. See the CDC for more information.Updated Information for Travelers Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread COVID-19. People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States:Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to get tested before or after travel unless their destination requires it Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to self-quarantine Fully vaccinated travelers should still follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely including:Wear a mask over your nose and mouth Stay 6 feet from others and avoid crowds Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer
Broadway shows to reopen at 100% in September
In a Tweet on May 5, 2021, Andrew Cuomo announced: "NEW: Broadway shows will be ready to open September 14 at 100% capacity. Tickets go on sale starting tomorrow. Broadway is major part of our state’s identity and economy, and we are thrilled that the curtains will rise again."Broadway shows were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 20, 2020. To see available shows and buy tickets, go to: https://www.broadway.com/
The EU is set to reopen to American tourists
The Commission is proposing that Member States ease the current restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU to take into account the progress of vaccination campaigns and developments in the epidemiological situation worldwide. The Commission proposes to allow entry to the EU for non-essential reasons not only for all persons coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation but also all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine. This could be extended to vaccines having completed the WHO emergency use listing process. In addition, the Commission proposes to raise, in line with the evolution of the epidemiological situation in the EU, the threshold related to the number of new COVID-19 cases used to determine a list of countries from which all travel should be permitted. This should allow the Council to expand this list. At the same time, the emergence of coronavirus variants of concern calls for continued vigilance. Therefore as counter-balance, the Commission proposes a new ‘emergency brake' mechanism, to be coordinated at EU level and which would limit the risk of such variants entering the EU. This will allow Member States to act quickly and temporarily limit to a strict minimum all travel from affected countries for the time needed to put in place appropriate sanitary measures. Non-essential travel for vaccinated travellers The Commission proposes that Member States lift restrictions on non-essential travel for vaccinated persons travelling to the EU. This reflects the latest scientific advice showing that vaccination considerably helps to break the transmission chain. Member States should allow travel into the EU of those people who have received, at least 14 days before arrival, the last recommended dose of a vaccine having received marketing authorisation in the EU. Member States could also extend this to those vaccinated with a vaccine having completed the WHO emergency use listing process. In addition, if Member States decide to waive the requirements to present a negative PCR test and/or to undergo quarantine for vaccinated persons on their territory, they should also waive such requirements for vacccinated travellers from outside the EU. This should be facilitated once the Digital Green Certificate becomes operational, in line with the rules the Commission proposed on 17 March. In particular, travellers should be able to prove their vaccination status with a Digital Green Certificate issued by Member States' authorities on an individual basis, or with another certificate recognised as equivalent by virtue of a Commission adequacy decision. Until the Digital Green Certificate is operational, Member States should be able to accept certificates from non-EU countries based on national law, taking into account the ability to verify the authenticity, validity and integrity of the certificate and whether it contains all relevant data. Member States could consider setting up a portal allowing travellers to ask for the recognition of a vaccination certificate issued by a non-EU country as reliable proof of vaccination and/or for the issuance of a Digital Green Certificate. Children who are excluded from vaccination should be able to travel with their vaccinated parents if they have a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken at the earliest 72 hours before arrival area. In these cases, Member States could require additional testing after arrival. Full lifting of non-essential travel restriction from more countries Non-essential travel regardless of individual vaccination status is currently permitted from 7 countries with a good epidemiological situation. This list is decided by the Council on the basis of epidemiological criteria contained in the current recommendation. The Commission is proposing to amend the criteria to take into account the mounting evidence of the positive impact of vaccination campaigns. The proposal is to increase the threshold of 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate from 25 to 100. This remains considerably below the current EU average, which is over 420. The adapted threshold should allow the Council to expand the list of countries from which non-essential travel is permitted regardless of vaccination status, subject to health-related measures such as testing and/or quarantine. As now, the Council should review this list at least every 2 weeks. Essential travel to remain permitted Those travelling for essential reasons, including notably healthcare professionals, cross-border workers, seasonal agricultural workers, transport staff and seafarers, passengers in transit, those travelling for imperative family reasons or those coming to study should continue to be allowed to enter the EU, regardless of whether they are vaccinated or which country they come from. The same applies to EU citizens and long-term residents as well as their family members. Such travel should continue to be subject to health-related measures, such as testing and quarantine as decided by Member States. ‘Emergency brake' to counter the spread of variants When the epidemiological situation of a non-EU country worsens quickly and in particular if a variant of concern or interest is detected, a Member State can urgently and temporarily suspend all inbound travel by non-EU citizens resident in such a country. The only exceptions in this case would be healthcare professionals, transport personnel, diplomats, transit passengers, those travelling for imperative family reasons, seafarers, and persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons. Such travellers should be subject to strict testing and quarantine arrangements even if they have been vaccinated. When a Member State applies such restrictions, the Member States meeting within the Council structures should review the situation together in a coordinated manner and in close cooperation with the Commission, and they should continue doing so at least every 2 weeks. Next steps It is now for the Council to consider this proposal. A first discussion is scheduled at technical level in the Council's integrated political crisis response (IPCR) meeting taking place on 4 May, followed by a discussion at the meeting of EU Ambassadors (Coreper) on 5 May. Once the proposal is adopted by the Council, it will be for Member States to implement the measures set out in the recommendation. The Council should review the list of non-EU countries exempted from the travel restriction in light of the updated criteria and continue doing so every 2 weeks. Background A temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU is currently in place from many non-EU countries, based on a recommendation agreed by the Council. The Council regularly reviews, and where relevant updates, the list of countries from where travel is possible, based on the evaluation of the health situation. This restriction covers non-essential travel only. Those who have an essential reason to come to Europe should continue to be able to do so. The categories of travellers with an essential function or need are listed in Annex II of the Council Recommendation. EU citizens and long-term residents as well as their family members should also be allowed to enter the EU. Following a proposal by the Commission, the Council agreed on 2 February 2021 additional safeguards and restrictions for international travellers into the EU, aimed at ensuring that essential travel to the EU continues safely in the context of the emergence of new coronavirus variants and the volatile health situation worldwide. These continue to apply. On 17 March 2021, in a Communication on a common path to Europe's safe re-opening, the Commission committed to keeping the operation of the Council Recommendation on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU under close review, and propose amendments in line with relevant developments. Today's proposal updates the Council recommendation. In parallel to preparing for the resumption of international travel for vaccinated travellers, the Commission proposed on 17 March 2021 to create a Digital Green Certificate, showing proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19, to help facilitate safe and free movement inside the EU. This proposal also provides the basis for recognising non-EU countries' vaccination certificates. The Council Recommendation on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU relates to entry into the EU. When deciding whether restrictions on non-essential travel can be lifted for a specific non-EU country, Member States should take account of the reciprocity granted to EU countries. This is a separate issue from that of the recognition of certificates issued by non-EU countries under the Digital Green Certificate. The Council recommendation covers all Member States (except Ireland), as well as the 4 non-EU states that have joined the Schengen area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. For the purpose of the travel restriction, these countries are covered in a similar way as the Member States. The latest information on the rules applying to entry from non-EU countries as communicated by Member States are available on the Re-open EU website. For More Information Proposal for a Council Recommendation on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU and the possible lifting of such restriction, 3 May 2021 Travel during the coronavirus pandemic