You’re ready to plan for new travel, maybe even looking ahead to 2021 or beyond - great! Half the joy of travel lies in the anticipation, and we can agree that a sunnier outlook would sure be welcome right about now. So, let’s get down to business: how should we be planning differently considering the changes brought about by COVID-19?
Here are my top five tips for travel planning right now:
1. Be flexible. This is the most important facet of future travel planning at this moment. The State Department still has a worldwide Level 4 global health advisory posted, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a similar Level 3 travel health notice. We don’t know when those advisories will be downgraded, or whether, once lifted, travel alerts or border closures might return. My advice to every traveler is to have flexibility built into your future travel reservations to the greatest extent possible. How you book your travel matters, and I am looking to my partnerships with suppliers that offer more generous flexibility policies in case travel plans need to change.
Hawaii just extended their quarantine requirement for visitors and returning residents through 31 July. Building flexibility into travel plans is especially important right now.
2. Invest in travel insurance and travel protection. It’s important to be educated on the basics of how travel insurance works, and what travel protection provides. Put simply, travel insurance provides coverage for your financial travel investment under defined circumstances, while travel protection offers coverage for while you are on your trip (for example, if you have a medical emergency while abroad). Each travel insurance / protection plan is different, however, so it is important to read the fine print about coverage, benefits, and exclusions. I offer travel insurance / protection on every single trip that I put together: it is of course the client’s choice on whether to purchase it or not. Travel insurance is one of those things you buy with the hope that you won’t need it, but the peace of mind you gain is priceless.
3. Check your passport. When does your passport expire? Check this today! Many international destinations require six months’ passport validity past the last day of your trip. If your passport has expired or is expiring within the next nine months, consider whether it makes sense to submit for a renewal now. The Department of State stopped processing routine passport applications in March, but is now slowly ramping up again. On 11 June 2020, 11 passport processing centers entered Phase 1 of a three-phase reopening plan. The passport application backlog was reported to be over 1.5 million several weeks ago, with thousands of additional applications still coming in each week. Backlogged passport applications will likely be processed in the order received (except in emergency situations).
Isn't this one of the best views there is? The anticipation of a new adventure.
4. Consider the new protocols. Virtually all airlines, resorts, hotels, and cruise lines have overhauled their entire approach to cleaning and sanitization. New protocols are also in place for travelers and will vary among different airports, destinations, airlines, and accommodations. The Islands of Tahiti, for example, are opening to travelers on 15 July, but requirements include receiving a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of home country departure, masks worn onboard transpacific flights, and social distancing in destination. Each resort then also has their own protocols, and it’s worth knowing what those are before you go so you’ll be prepared for a somewhat different experience. I reach out to my contacts at individual resorts to get the inside scoop, and to find out how aspects like dining and spa services may be changed. (Of course, Tahiti in particular has social distancing practically built in with its signature bungalow accommodations and as many tourists in a year as Hawaii sees in a typical week.)
5. Look to the future. The more we progress through the new cleaning approaches, health protocols, and travel re-openings, the more the travel landscape will stabilize. If you are thinking about traveling again, consider your own situation and personal calendar as you look to the future. With the right approach, we can bring your travel dreams into focus and start planning right now, peace of mind included.
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Happy Future Travels,