The State of Travel – The Post-Pandemic Edition
In March, I wrote about the State of Travel as things were just beginning to open up. While things continue to head in the right direction, changes are happening daily that will impact the way we travel.
The state of travel has changed a lot in the last few weeks and the updates come daily. Some European countries have or are planning soon to open their borders to vaccinated travelers, some require testing, some countries require you to fly on a Covid-Tested flight, others require insurance, and some don’t.
On any given day entry guidance can change, so it’s important to review entry rules both when you book, and again just before you travel. While there are more places Americans can go today, it’s not as simple as it was in early 2020.
Next week I head to Croatia for an American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) Destination Expo in Dubrovnik, my first trip to Europe since 2019.
Croatia has remained largely open to US citizens throughout most of the pandemic and this trip was originally scheduled for November 2020. Most European destinations are hoping to capture some of the pent-up travel demand to help recover from the year without tourists.
Airlines are rolling out apps that let you upload vaccination cards and test results to help simplify the travel process. Schedules are still not back to normal for Europe, and travel will be challenging until demand picks up. My original flight to Dubrovnik was canceled so I had to add another night to my trip to get to my conference on time.
Watch out for those basic economy fares – they are back and non-changeable use it or lose it again. It costs about $50 in most markets for a fare that allows changes without a fee, plus you won’t have to board last! Most tickets purchased between March 2020 and March 2021 will be valid until 12/31/2022. Any tickets purchased after 3/31/2021 will be valid for 1 year from the issue date. Expect the airlines to continue to tighten flexibility rules as the recovery continues.
Travel demand has been high and prices have been rising steadily for air and hotels. We have all heard of the very real car rental shortage throughout the US. While you still may be able to find something last minute, airfares have been insanely expensive: $762 from DFW to Cancun, which usually runs $425-550.
Cruises are scheduled to get started in June and July, and thanks to our lawmakers in Washington, we will have an Alaska cruise season. Almost all lodging and cars are sold out for June and July, so a cruise is another way to see Alaska.
European River cruises are slated to start slowly in July, and we expect a full schedule by October. I expect to see some great pricing for large cruise ships and river cruises as the industry re-starts.