If you are vaccinated, there are international destinations that will welcome travelers from the United States.
More good news is that more countries plan to open in the next few weeks and will be ready to welcome vaccinated U.S. Travelers.
During the worst of the pandemic, hotels laid off staff, rental car fleets were sold. Aircrafts were parked and ships floated at sea. Now that millions have been vaccinated, the world will start moving again but it will not mean an immediate return to the old “normal”.
While recent vaccine news has been hopeful and optimistic, travel advisors, are trained to set the right expectations for our clients. While we are thrilled to see people excited to travel again, it’s important that travelers remain educated, have realistic expectations and do not expect to find any great bargains.
Take flights for example. Planes need to be mechanically put back into service while crews and staff need to be re-hired. Airline schedules and pricing are controlled by sophisticated software that basically balances supply and demand. Travelers need to know it will take some time to get this delicate “balancing act” back on track. Airlines are trying to predict demand and put flight schedules back in service. The problem is everyone’s “crystal ball” has been completely smudged with fingerprints throughout the pandemic that right now nobody can see clearly see the future.
So, what does this all mean? It means flight schedules are a mess. Travelers may pay for a flight only to find it being cancelled last minute. Yes, the airlines will get you to your destination, but it might not be right away, and it may mean connections and overnights in those cities. If you are the type of traveler that is flexible and can “go with the flow” terrific. If you are the type of traveler that would freak out with a last-minute cancellation, then I guess you will need to maintain your “staycation” a while longer.
To maintain profits, airlines will not fly with empty seats. They will keep demand and prices high to help offset some of their recent financial losses. In addition, any flights booked to countries that will be opening soon to vaccinated U.S. travelers will mean last minute travel. Last minute flights, without long lead times, always come with a premium. Let me save you hours of googling cheap flights – there are none.
There is a similar story with rental cars. Fleets of rental cars were sold during lockdown. Domestic travel surged in many countries, especially here in the U.S. Thanks to supply and demand, last week I did a quote for Hawaii and was shocked when I saw a $3000 price tag for a compact rental for a week on Maui! Even worse, people are paying these prices, showing up and being told there are simply no cars available. Sure, you will get refunded but that will not help when you find yourself stranded not to mention the added expense of sourcing local transportation – that is if you can find an Uber driver.
The issue with hotels is availability and service. When it comes to domestic U.S. travel, hotels, motels, dude ranches, National Parks, theme parks, campsites – sold out. Do not hop in the car for a spontaneous road trip this summer without securing your accommodations before leaving home. Hotels will be operating at the maximum safety occupancy levels with respect to social distancing guidelines. That said, staffing will mostly likely not be at the maximum levels. Many experienced hospitality workers who were laid off during lockdown have started new careers in different industries. Many of the people you will encounter are new hires without much experience. If you are patient by nature great – if not, be warned.
Last, but certainly not least are the Cruise Lines. MSC has continued to sail in the Mediterranean without incident but availability is an issue due to European domestic travelers. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are sailing the Caribbean but not from U.S. ports. Travelers must be vaccinated and fly to the Bahamas or St. Martin. For travelers who are used to sailing from U.S. ports, adding the price of flights makes cruising more expensive. High demand flights like these, even more expensive. Everyone in the travel industry is waiting on pins and needles for the day cruises can sail from U.S. Port cities.
Here at Vacationkids, we are all about family travel. While many countries are opening to vaccinated adults, the situation become complicated when traveling with children who are unvaccinated. Rules and regulations continue to evolve and are different for every destination and type of travel. Our agency has done a handful of foreign trips for summer 2021 but most are for families who have older teens that plan to be vaccinated prior to departure. Most of our families will be traveling domestically this summer or to destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. We have been extremely busy creating foreign itineraries for families looking ahead to 2022 but we’re running into the issue of availability. So many trips have been postponed that availability has become a major issue, especially when it comes to accommodations for larger families.
The most important thing to remember here is this - .the situation can change at a moment’s notice. For example, Costa Rica has been welcoming guests for the past several months and recently went back on a short lockdown. Israel was announcing the opening of their border due to a high success rate with their vaccination program until conflict broke out and now all international flights have been cancelled.
So bottom line, here are some tips to consider:
- As travel resumes, it will be expensive. This is not a time for bargain shoppers.
- If you are patient and flexible go, if you are a type-A, super, control freak you should stay home.
- If traveling internationally, watch the exchange rates. Countries like Iceland, South Africa, Croatia, and Thailand might be better destinations choices.
- Call us…work with a travel professional armed with the latest intel. We can save you a ton of time and aggravation while giving you peace of mind.