The summer vacation of 2021 will be unlike any other in history. With only a few weeks left to Memorial Day, when the summer travel season officially kicks in, there’s a lot of doubt and speculation in the air. Some travelers don’t know what to expect, while others are eager to resume travel again after spending months in lockdown. Despite the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) announcing that those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume travel, the agency is still not recommending travel, given the new strain of COVID. With so much uncertainty, most people are wondering if they should book for summer vacation this year.
What to Expect this Summer
Contrary to what most people think or believe, travel agencies, property owners, and management companies are predicting an extremely busy season this summer. According to Heather Keller, travel advisory at Perfect Landing Travel, “Availability is already limited, and pricing is at a premium, especially for any resort or hotel that naturally lends itself to easy social distancing.”
Tourists are booking their summer vacation with gusto as they are eager to reunite with family and friends after months in isolation. This shows that people are definitely making plans to get back out there, pretty much anywhere. Susan Moynihan of the Honeymoonist/Largay Travel says that there are two types of travelers. “A smaller group of people who are sick of being stuck at home and are traveling both domestically and internationally despite the complications, and a larger group of people who are waiting on a vaccine to travel, especially internationally.”
She adds, “that first group has always been there, but it's getting bigger, and people aren’t hiding their travel as much.” One deterrent to travel plans is the slow rollout of vaccines. Additionally, the newly discovered variant of COVID-19 is making it hard to predict what will happen this summer.
Anita Gupta, DO, MPP, PharmD, assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine weighs in with some valuable thoughts about travel. She says “We just don't know yet – there are lots of moving pieces because of the variants that are continuing to emerge. And because we fully don’t know the impact of the vaccines, we can't safely say how people will be impacted if they travel.
While the majority of Americans (71 percent) say that the distribution of Covid vaccines makes them feel more optimistic and hopeful about traveling in 2021, the COVID task force still recommends that everyone stays put.
So, if you're thinking of traveling in 2021 for summer vacation, here’s what you need to know.
Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
Currently, the COVID-19 vaccine demand is a lot higher than the supply, but experts say they expect more vaccines to be available in late spring. To secure a space in the travel industry, you’ll need to get the vaccine. As international destinations reopen, albeit gradually, most will require proof of vaccination for entry. So, having a vaccination card will act as a ticket to be welcomed in another country.
Vaccination certificates are nothing new. Vaccines are already required for entry in many parts of the world, case in point, Yellow Fever in Kenya. People are embracing this concept, with a majority of travelers (57 percent) saying they would accept if they could only travel if they provide proof of COVID vaccination, according to a survey by Booking.com.
If you haven’t booked already, you may be too late. Travel destinations had recorded above normal bookings by March. By March, 90 percent of vacation homes on the Jersey Shore and Cape Cod were already booked for July on Vrbo, a site that lists vacation properties. This is in stark contrast to the same period in 2019 when more than 30 percent of homes in those markets were still available.
It appears vacation rentals are in high demand, but the supply is short. This will mean resort hotel prices will soar as demand grows and cancellation rates go down.
We expect the average length of stay this summer to be longer, a trend that was prevalent last summer. HomeToGo, a big vacation-rentals search engine, reports that the average domestic traveler will stay for 11 days, a 14 percent increase from 2019.
Travelers now want to spend more time enjoying the nature and scenic views of their destinations.
Travel Insurance Should Be a Priority
If you're joining the masses who are traveling for summer vacation, flexibility should be on top of your list. You see, things can get out of hand pretty quickly, and when you're thousands of miles away from home, you’d need a solid backup plan in place.
Travel insurance is no longer an option. It may come in handy if you need to cancel your plans in case the number of cases rises. So, when booking, opt for flexible cancellation policies. More importantly, consider hiring travel insurance with “cancel for any reason” coverage. This allows you to recoup deposits if you change your mind about your traveling as the departure date nears.
Investing in travel insurance will be greatly beneficial if you or someone gets sick and requires urgent medical attention. However, be sure to buy the right kind of travel insurance – one that covers everything you might need.
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