Ready to leave town? 5 tips from experts who successfully traveled during the pandemic


Claire Schoen, who loves to travel, did not let the pandemic stop her.

“The minute I was vaccinated, I booked a trip to Florida,” she says.

At the start of the pandemic, she admits to being suspicious, but has traveled all the same, wearing two masks. However, once vaccinated and donned two masks, Schoen and her husband, Gerry Werner, stepped up their movements.

“I am vaccinated,” she says. “I am very careful. What else are you going to do? You can’t stop.

In June, the couple, both retired and in their 60s, met friends outside at a restaurant in Fairfield, Connecticut, and wondered, ‘Where can we go to feel safe and secure. where we’ve never been before? ”

They chose Vienna, Salzburg and Lake Como in northern Italy for September. “I wore a mask all the time, ate out all the time except the last night. We had to show our vaccination card at restaurants and check in at a hotel. “

The European Union’s digital COVID certificate was their ticket to travel; it is valid for 27 member countries plus Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The main stress for Schoen was the requirement to be tested for COVID-19 to return to the United States

“You have to be tested before you get on the plane to get home,” she says. Sometimes if their hotel’s Wi-Fi wasn’t strong enough, they would use in-home COVID-19 test kits that offered instant responses. For the trip to Europe, they worked with a travel agent they knew from pre-pandemic trips and purchased travel insurance.

If you are finally ready to travel for the first time since the start of the pandemic, check carefully when booking cancellation policies, travel credits, and how travel insurance could protect your money. Fees vary from airline to airline, for example, so before you book, if you want to cancel or postpone your trip, find out what it could cost you. It is better to read carefully before booking.

Protecting yourself and your travel investment are two parts of the experience. “People have different levels of comfort,” says Lorraine Sileo, senior analyst at Phocuswright, a travel industry research company. Yet for those who have traveled or are planning a trip now, “they’re just living their lives,” she says. “They are very careful. It’s just this passion ”for travel.

The key to traveling during the pandemic depends on how you perceive the risk versus the actual risk and your overall comfort level with the risk, the reason for your trip, and how important the trip is to you. Another factor seems to be the intangible: how much time do you have left in your life to travel?

From a financial perspective, ask yourself: How could I get my money back if I decided I didn’t want to travel? Or could I postpone my trip to a later date without any financial loss? You may not be able to receive a refund, but you can often receive travel credit for a trip that you postponed.

When planning a first trip, consider your personal safety as well as domestic and international travel requirements and regulations.

From a health perspective and rules for entering various countries, check the policies of where you want to travel and determine if they have quarantine or testing requirements before you book so you know what to expect for any destination. The US Department of State has information by country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have extended their Framework for the conditional race order (CSO) with some minor modifications; the temporary extension and modification of the CSO comes into effect on November 1.

Cruise ships typically sail at 50% of their capacity or less. During the pandemic, travelers were able to book a cruise and then cancel or reschedule for future cruise credit. “It’s not going to go away anytime soon,” says Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of CruiseCritic.com, a cruise review website. “They will be able to get at least one loan. “

Most airlines have waived cancellation and change fees, but policies vary from airline to airline. For example, Delta Air Lines DAL,
-1.15%
waived change fees, with the exception of Basic Economy fares. Some airlines issue travel vouchers which may have expiration dates.

One way to protect your investment is to purchase a refundable ticket. Phocuswright’s Sileo plans to do so for a trip to Europe after the first of the year. “I would book a non-stop flight and I wouldn’t skip the country,” she said. “We can buy refundable tickets. It just costs more.

Here is advice from travel experts and those who traveled successfully during the pandemic:

Buy travel insurance. “We always recommend that people take out travel insurance,” says McDaniel of CruiseCritic. “Make sure it covers pandemic or COVID-19 in case you want to cancel or your trip is cut short. You may want more protection if you choose to cancel a trip for a reason that is not specifically covered by the insurance you are considering. In this case, you can purchase what is known as a Cancel for Any Reason Upgrade to the insurance you have selected. When considering insurance, ask if the policy you have chosen will cover any situation related to the pandemic.
Work with a travel counselor. Regulations related to the pandemic vary from country to country and tend to fluctuate. An experienced travel consultant within the industry can help you understand the requirements for travel to and from destinations and “navigate the process,” says Terry Dale, President and CEO of US Tour Operators Association, a professional association that promotes integrity within the circuit. operators industry.

Consider using a travel agency. Tour operators, for example, have been “very accommodating and flexible over the past 18 months,” says Dale. “We are committed to doing what is right for the consumer. The vast majority of our tour operators require customers to be fully vaccinated, ”he says. “It’s a safe bubble in which you can travel. “

Start small in terms of distance and dollars. If you haven’t traveled except in your own vehicle during the pandemic, one way to start your travels is to start is by taking a trip closer to you. Consider riding on newcomer to the Washington-New York market, The Jet, a luxury coach that travels point-to-point between these two cities. It connects Washington, DC’s Metro Center on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 555 13e St., NW, at the southeast corner of 13e and F and Hudson Yards between 10e and 11e Avenues at 33rd and 34e Streets of Manhattan. The capacity is 14 travelers. One-way fare starts at $ 99. You can cancel your trip within 24 hours of departure for a full refund to your credit card or get credit for future travel. Within four hours of departure, you can get credit for future travel.

Look up values ​​on air travel and tour packages. Experts suggest checking airline websites for deals or booking a package with plane and accommodation, which even before the pandemic could save you up to 40%. Package tours can be small group trips for a couple, family, or friends who choose to travel together. “From a value perspective, it’s a good time to travel,” says USTOA’s Dale.

Harriet Edleson is the author of the book “12 ways to retire with less: planning for an affordable future”(Rowman & Littlefield, May 2021). A former writer / editor / producer for AARP, she writes for the Washington Post’s real estate section..


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