After a long year stuck at home, many people are dreaming about when they can travel once again. While counting down the days may feel like torture, planning and booking a vacation for later this year can give you something to look forward to.
Now may be the perfect time to start thinking about your next adventure. Consider these tips for planning a future trip — even if you’re not certain exactly when you’ll take it.
Research travel restrictions
For any kind of travel, it’s important to make sure you’re up to date on any restrictions your potential destinations may have in place. Once you’ve booked travel plans, it is prudent to check in frequently as your trip approaches and prepare a backup plan.
Early last month, the three pharmaceutical companies behind the vaccines that had been approved up to that point, Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, updated their projections regarding the availability of vaccines. Estimates suggested the three companies would be capable of providing hundreds of millions of vaccines by the end of July.
That would seem to suggest that travel should be considerably safer by mid- to late-summer 2021 than it was a year ago. However, those were just projections.
Travelers concerned about COVID-19 can monitor how many vaccines have been distributed by visiting the CDC website at covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations.
Prospective vacationers can even use the CDC’s interactive map to determine how many vaccines have been distributed in the areas they hope to visit. Such knowledge can help you make the most informed decisions as they ponder whether or not to travel this summer.
Account for high demand
Many hotels, vacation rentals and resorts may already be booked for summer in popular locations due to optimism around the vaccine, increased demand for domestic travel and families planning multiple trips this year. In fact, travelers are locking in private Vrbo vacation homes at top summer destinations earlier in 2021.
Less than half of vacation homes in some locations are still available for July, which is a more than 25% increase in demand year-over-year. To better your odds of securing your desired travel dates, accommodations and activities, booking earlier can help off-set the increased demand.
“In years past, we’ve recommended families book their summer vacations by late April to stay ahead of the curve, but this year there are several reasons why families are eager and ready to book,” Vrbo President Jeff Hurst said. “These signs are telling us families should start looking for the perfect vacation home now before options become more limited.”
Take advantage of deals with longer stays
Many sectors of the travel industry offer special deals for reserving trips in advance, and some of the best deals can be found by bundling airfare and lodging or booking extended week- or month-long stays. These longer vacations can lead to fewer available dates to choose from, but some travel companies offer search filters that help travelers find discounts for staying longer periods of time.
Opt for flexible booking
If you’re eager to plan a vacation right away, be sure to review and understand cancellation policies for your preferred accommodations, airline and activities. Many have changed their policies due to the pandemic, so be sure to know how long you have to cancel or change dates without incurring additional fees or penalties.
For example, when booking a vacation rental through Vrbo, where hosts set their cancellation terms, you can use the “free cancellation” filter to search for properties with flexible policies, some of which allow cancellations up to 14 days before check-in for a full refund.
Make sure you read the fine print before signing on the dotted line with any booking. In 2020, many people learned the hard way why its so important to read the fine print on vacation contracts. Pay particular attention to cancellation policies and whether or not they’re flexible. Travelers have every right to be concerned about traveling during a pandemic, but they may have no right to refunds if they signed contracts with inflexible cancellation policies.
Travelers who suspect they may travel this summer but aren’t entirely sure about safety should only sign contracts that allow them to cancel trips without paying any penalties. In addition, before booking hotel rooms, ask which amenities will be available to guests. Chances are you will spend more time at the hotel than normal, so access to pools, restaurants and other amenities takes on heightened importance.
Start saving now
While it may not be practical for everyone to save money amid uncertain times, setting even a small amount aside for your vacation can be worthwhile. Consider setting up a dedicated travel savings account or directing the change from each transaction made with your debit card to a separate account. Being able to periodically check the balance of the account can also help increase excitement for your upcoming adventure.
Traveling in the summer of 2021 will be unique. Would-be vacationers should do their homework and consider a host of factors prior to booking a trip.
Find more tips and start planning your next getaway at Vrbo.com. (Family Features/MC)