With autumn just around the corner and the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, most of us have had to concede that travel (especially international travel) is pretty much off the table for the rest of 2020. Even though some countries have the virus under control, they’ve barred the entry of travelers from countries where it isn’t, and without a vaccine, traveling is still a gamble and risks the continued spread of the virus. So, with 2020 vacation plans shelved, travelers and the tourism industry are looking toward 2021 and onward.
The thought of planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip so far in the future — and after being stuck inside so long — is hard; why plan a trip for mid-2021 when one can just wait and see how the next six months play out and make plans then? Sure, you can do that, but there are actually many good reasons to go ahead and start planning and booking a trip for 2021 or 2022.
You may be thinking, “If I want to travel in 2021 or 2022, why should I book now? Shouldn’t I wait to see what the situation is?” While the second part of that rhetorical question is answered below, the answer to the first is because of availability. When COVID-19 hit, a wave of cancellations swept through the travel industry, but many people were also willing to push their travel dates into next year or 2022. That means there may be entire weeks to months at hotels, resorts, and popular destinations that are already filling up. So if you want to guarantee good travel dates and access to the accommodations and activities of your choice, it’s better to book soon to guarantee availability.
Flexible cancellation and postponement policies
Everyone from airlines to cruises to tour operators have changed their policies pertaining to booking, postponing, or canceling a service, making them more flexible than ever. The exact policies vary by company, but the gist with most is that, within a set amount of time, you can easily cancel or change dates for your travel with no extra fees. You can even find “book now and decide later” policies that allow you to book a trip without set dates and just wait and see when the best time to travel is. The new policies are extremely consumer-oriented and make it so easy to adjust your travel plans for these rapidly changing times; if there’s a sudden surge of COVID-19 cases in your area right before your trip or the destination you were planning to visit decides to shut down again, you can change plans. Knowing that you’re not going to be saddled with fees and extra charges for changing travel dates makes it easier to take the jump and book a trip.
Great deals and rates
Every sector of the travel industry is desperate for travelers and the money they bring right now, so in looking to next year and beyond, many hotels, tour operators, airlines, and cruises are offering great deals to entice travelers to reserve a trip in advance. From special discounts or rates during select time frames to great perks, you’re bound to find some amazing deals out there if you start looking.
Support the travel industry
Another key reason why you should invest the time and money in booking a future trip now: It helps support the travel industry in the meantime. The big hotel chains, resorts, cruises, and airlines may be able to survive a tough year, but what about the small boutique hotel with slim margins? The family-owned-and-operated tour company? The workers and communities that depend on annual tourism revenue? Studies have shown that one in eleven people works in a job related to tourism, and with nearly the entire industry shut down due to COVID, that’s millions of people out of work for the foreseeable future. Booking a future trip provides a direct cash infusion to all the different sectors of a destination. Book a tour and you’ll be supporting trip planners, tour guides, drivers, and more. Book a hotel and you’ll be helping the hotel stay afloat and retain staff. If we want to be able to get back out there and travel once it’s safe to do so, there needs to be an industry there to support that demand, so booking now for future trips throws the travel industry a lifeline during these turbulent times.
Gives you something to look forward to
I know. We’ve been stuck inside for months, and the reopenings are just a small step toward the life we used to know. The thought of finally packing your suitcase, heading to the airport, walking down that jet bridge, settling into your seat, and feeling the anticipation of an adventure wash over you … we all want that right now. We’re going to have to be patient for longer, but do you know what makes the waiting easier? Having something to look forward to. Even if it’s still some ways in the future, knowing you have a great trip already planned, booked, and paid for means that you’ve done your part; you can spend the rest of 2020 and 2021 doing whatever you please (at home, that is) and when the time arrives, you’re all good to go. Counting down the months and weeks to a new trip helps the time fly by, so even if the thought of booking a trip for this time next year feels like an exercise in torture, you’ll reap the benefits come travel time.
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