Traveling has always been a costly and daring adventure. If you are exploring the wilds of Madagascar or enjoying the peace of Takayama, you first have to go through the troublesome ordeal of picking when and where to travel.
To make this even more stressful, each country has their own COVID plans and restrictions, meaning that whatever rules you have in your own country might be banned in another.
We want to make the planning side of your escape worry-free! To achieve this, we will explain how COVID has affected travel, we will give advice depending on the type of travel you plan to take, and we will explain how to do this safely.
Ease your fears, as we have all the answers you need.
- How Is COVID Affecting The Tourism Sector?
- Travel Advice For
- How To Book A Holiday Safely
- Are Travel Restrictions Likely To Change?
- The Best Travel Destinations For 2022
- Should I Get COVID Travel Insurance?
How Is COVID Affecting The Tourism Sector?
Before the shock of COVID, the tourism industry was already having a hard time. Climate change events have forced many tourism destinations to work overtime in the good years to prepare for the bad ones.
For example, California‘s Lake Tahoe Center had made a statement that low snowfall and long periods of drought had led to several years of ski resort hardships. They had to accept fewer customers, as there wasn’t enough snow for everyone to enjoy the slopes equally.
To ensure that the resort gave each customer the experience they expected, fewer people were permitted to ski.
Of course, this is just one example, but across the world, countries who rely on specific weather conditions (that were once normal to their land) couldn’t function as the vacation they were branded as.
Then 2020 hit and every country shut their borders. An already battered and bruised industry took the brunt of this pandemic, and though the restrictions were necessary to save lives, many companies closed down for good.
It’s not just destinations that began to fall, but travel agencies too. The popular online agency
On The Beach reported annual losses of £18 million (around $24 million).
However, it isn’t all bad news. Because tourist destinations cannot allow large groups of people into their environments anymore, you can expect a less crowded experience. The beaches may actually have enough room for a volleyball match. The hiking exploration won’t become a race to the top by some strangers who keep overtaking you. And queues to the roller coaster won’t be as long!
Many holidaymakers have enjoyed the smaller crowds on their vacations, making the trips the calming experience they are meant to be.
Tourist attractions have taken notice of this happier crowd, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the tourism sector decided to keep the smaller numbers. They may have to charge more for the lowered number of guests, so you will have to weigh up your options. Do you want fewer crowds or a cheaper experience?
Travel Advice For
Now for the advice. Each type of traveler will have their own risks, fun, and considerations. Because of this, we don’t want to lump everyone into the same boat. The advice aimed at a family holiday wouldn’t be needed for a “go with the flow” traveler after all.
Scroll down to the subheading that best describes you, and take note of what we have to say.
Going on vacation with your family of young children means that you won’t have much choice on your week away. Following the school holidays, the best bet is to book your vacation as soon as possible.
The earlier you book, the lower the prices will be. However, be sure to ask or find confirmation around the company’s COVID Policies. If you cannot find a clear policy that explains the company’s processes around COVID, ask them what would happen if the following scenarios happened:
- You contracted COVID and need to cancel.
- Your location has been locked down/the company’s location has been locked down.
- The company has to close due to too many positive COVID tests by the staff.
Understanding the holiday destination’s rules about these three subjects will prepare you for the horrible scenario where the vacation has been canceled due to the virus. For example, the business might give you a refund if your country/state/location doesn’t allow you to leave your area or if their own area is just as strict. However, they might not allow you a refund if you contracted the virus yourself.
As many countries relax their strict rules on travel, these issues may no longer be a worry. As the spring and summer come into view, we are hopeful that the summer holidays and spring breaks will be a turning point. Most of the travel industry is preparing for a big boom in vacationers as they are finally free to holiday again, so don’t be caught in the trap of pre-2020 thinking. Still consider the likelihood of a canceled trip as it is better to be safe than sorry.
If you are traveling by yourself, you will have a lot more freedom than anyone else. Although you should also consider COVID policies when booking your hotels or adventure days, you can view multiple accommodation options if things go wrong.
For you, a shut-down hotel doesn’t mean the end of your travel plans. Instead, you need to be mentally prepared for changes on the road.
The only thing you need to truly be worried about is availability. Normally we would suggest booking early, and usually, if events are canceled, you simply go home. Instead, as a single traveler, you can book a new room elsewhere, but the last-minute booking could cost you a lot more than you’d expect.
Not only will late bookings lead to hefty prices, but it may also be hard to find any accommodation at all. Luckily, a solo traveler only has to answer to themselves. There are no screaming children to please and no friends to argue with. If the only place left available is a cheap and grotty stay, it’s up to you to decide if the continued visit is worth it.
So, along with booking early, we suggest you develop your mental and emotional flexibility. Prepare yourself for changing circumstances and remember your goal on this trip. If you want to explore, it doesn’t matter what hotel you stay in. If you want to try local foods in a different country, then all you need is a street vendor. And if you’re there to learn about history, then there will always be another place to take in the location’s culture.
Unlike any of the other holidaymakers on this list, the cruisers haven’t got another place to go if COVID strikes the ship. This means it’s more essential than ever to understand and weigh up the ship’s COVID policy details.
If one person on the ship contracts the virus, the whole boat will likely anchor at sea as they weigh for the prescribed period of isolation to pass. However, beyond that reasonable assumption, each cruise and each country controlling the cruise will have its own rules and regulations.
If you are happy with the company’s rules, then continue looking at the other considerations. Cruisers are often hot on the heels of a good deal, so you can expect the cabins to book up quickly. If you know which boating trip you want to voyage on, start booking as soon as you can.
The smaller the ship size, the more likely you will lose a space among the floating party, so book as soon as you know you want a room.
If the cruise is going to different countries, be sure to read up on each country’s COVID rules. The company should supply you with this information; however, you can find it on the country’s government health page.
If you are not traveling from one country to the next, then this job will be a lot easier for you. Instead, you can feel secure knowing that once you are on the boat, you are safe. Even if someone contracts the virus, you will be locked in a beautiful boat with lots of activities to bide the time.
We suggest that you wash your hands as often as possible, wear masks indoors, and have all the fun you would typically expect on your trip.
Free And Flexible
Although you might think that the single option is the same as the free and flexible, there is a slight difference. Free and flexible travelers could come in a bunch, while single people may not have the “go with the flow” attitude needed for random and spontaneous adventure.
If the destination, accommodation, and adventure-style doesn’t need to fit into a singular or straightforward path, then you can be a lot looser with your planning. We suggest waiting for the best deals to present themselves before booking in an adventure.
As the travel industry is struggling to get back onto its feet, the prices won’t climb too much. Instead, you can wait until the week you want to go and start planning then. This way, you know you should be safe from any COVID contaminations, as the countries you want to visit should have announced any upcoming changes to their rules beforehand.
If a country looks like they are considering tightening their restrictions, simply block them off your list and look at another option. Use your flexibility to your advantage, and don’t let this virus stop you from having a good time.
As you begin your traveling, you may expect that “normal” routes and options are being denied. This will be due to health and safety concerns. Instead, figure out where your local tourist information is. These talented and knowledgeable people will be your guide, and they will tell you where you can go and how your adventure can continue.
Allow yourself to follow the path given to you instead of the one you originally thought of. This way, you will still get to experience the amazing world and cultures around you without feeling like your journey has been cut short due to this global pandemic.
How To Book A Holiday Safely
Normally when people talk about safety in relation to their holidays, they mean cultural barriers, financial scammers, LGBTQ+ laws, diseases, and natural disasters. This year we want to take a different approach.
Of course, all of those problems still exist, and depending on the country you are traveling to, you must research the local issues to expect. However, we want to help you navigate the new land of travel due to the failing economy through the travel industry.
No matter if you are staying in the state or traveling around the world – these tips will come in handy.
Although you might expect package holidays to have a fixed price, they instead drop or rise in value due to demand. To get the best deals, you want to search the internet for advertised deals for the same vacation you were planning on taking.
Simply search for the company you hoped to use, and then add “online deal” afterward. The first couple of options will be the original price tag, but it won’t take long for cheaper suggestions to pop up.
However, the opposite can be true. Scammers and unsavory companies know that people are desperate to finally take a vacation. This means that you might find the word “discount” chucked around a lot when in reality, the company talking to you hasn’t changed their prices at all, or they aren’t working with the hotel/cruise/tourist activity you were looking for.
Be sure to look thoroughly at anything calling itself “free” and calculate if you are actually saving money for this supposed bargain. Secondly, any website claiming to give you a discount on your holiday deal should be followed up by the main company in question.
For example, if you want to take a cruise and a bargain website says that they can give you tickets for a lower price, ask the original website if they are in contact with the bargain one.
If the original website confirms that they are branching out their sales, then your bargain ticket is legitimate.
Price Match Promises
Price match promises are essential in this era of constant change. These policies are invoked when your original plans fall through and the company you booked with offers you another option. If the second option is cheaper than your original one, then the company pays the difference and matches the lower price. This is so you are not out of pocket for their mistake or regrettable change.
However, you can use this promise before your holiday starts. If you look at the terms and conditions, you should notice that you are allowed to search for other companies that offer the same services before your original company fails.
For example, you may book a flight with an airline that gives you a price match promise. You can then search for other airlines to see if you have taken the cheapest option, and if you haven’t, you can invoke the price match policy.
Some companies will offer this promise but have a lot of terms and conditions to make any matches void. For example, if the lower price is due to a limited-time discount, the company doesn’t offer the same perks, or the dates aren’t the same, then you can expect the offer to be withdrawn.
This is why looking at the small print is extremely important.
That doesn’t mean that you’ll never get a price match, though! Many companies offer this promise, knowing that most of their customers won’t bother to check around for prices. This means they can advertise and suggest that they have the lowest prices, but in reality, there are a couple that stretches lower. You can be one of the few people using their heads and finding the discounts they deserve.
Low Or Zero Deposits
Low or zero deposit schemes are often too good to be true. They are designed to hook in potential customers with the prospect of low commitment. In this day and age of constant cancellations, you might feel the same pull towards this low-risk advertisement.
However, you should always read the fine print. There are often two ways in which this low deposit scheme is created. Either you are expected to pay part of the deposit now and the other part later – meaning you have saved no money just stretched out the payments. Or, you will be expected to lose your deposit and have to pay extra if you end up canceling.
If you are in a tight spot with money and would rather pay in small chunks, then the first option isn’t as bad as it seems. However, you need to know where you fall in the small print.
If the company offers the alternative method, you may end up paying more in the end. This is because you will be a risk in their eyes, and they may not receive the full payment they need if you bail.
To ensure the company doesn’t lose out on money, they will charge extra overall. Normally the best option for the cheapest deals is to make full payments upfront. As the company will be receiving their payment all in one go, you will not be seen as a risk, and so they won’t charge you extra in case you run.
It is always best to double-check any deal that looks too good to be true. In the UK, fraudsters stole over £7m from vacationers (which translates to US$9.49m). They did this by offering amazing-looking deals on realistic websites. Ideally, you should use trusted websites well-known brands and look out for spelling mistakes.
Big holiday companies pay thousands of dollars for fantastic websites, so unexpected characters, misspellings, or strange word choices should flag that something is wrong.
“Free” Child Places
Typically, places where children can enter for free are an excellent option for any family. However, this great deal can go sideways when it comes to hotels or restaurants.
There are two ways for child-free places to work successfully and keep the business afloat. The first is to draw customers with families into their domain – the additional customers mean more money is being spent in their establishments, which in turn means money lost from the child’s fare has been made through other means.
The second method is to add “secret” charges to unsuspecting customers. This is specifically true for self-catering apartments. In these deals, children are expected to share their parent or guardian’s room. Let’s say that a family of four has two adults and two children. One of the children qualifies for a free space. They book a four-bedroom apartment, but one child goes free.
In the company’s books, they will note that only three people rented out this four-person apartment, and so they charge for “under-occupancy.” This charge will either make the total price more expensive than the original 4 person experience or the same.
This hidden charge often goes unnoticed by customers, as it is detailed in the small print. To get past this, you may want your child to sleep in a cot which you bring yourself or in your own bed. This will remove the extra occupancy/room that goes unused according to their systems.
Secondly, this hidden charge could go the other way. This family of four may be entitled to a complimentary breakfast. They order four meals, expecting no cost, but then are billed for a full meal and a late notice charge as the “free” child was not included in the all-inclusive breakfast.
Before you book somewhere that claims to allow children to go free, check their small print and see if this statement is genuinely true.
Are Travel Restrictions Likely To Change?
New variations of COVID are popping up all the time. Some become strong and take center stage – like Omicron. Others were snuffed out before we knew they existed.
This constant flux is what each country has to monitor. Some are doing well against the virus, and others are struggling massively. This is why we see countries like Norway, Italy, and Canada removing masks from their mandates and loosening social distancing rules.
However, some areas like Hong Kong are imposing more strict measures.
As more and more people receive their vaccinations, we can expect the restrictions to keep lightening. However, viruses can mutate faster than any other creature, meaning there is always a risk that a new variant will take over our systems again.
To make sure you stay up to date, you should look at your own country’s information about travel and the country you are planning to visit too. They will explain what you can do, what you should expect, and how you should be following the law.
If you are struggling to figure out which country to visit as the restrictions have limited your free-travel thinking, then use this handy map by Kayak. The map is updated when governments change their travel policy, and it shows you which country you are allowed to travel to depending on the country you start in.
For example, looking at the map today, North Americans can travel to Mexico without COVID restrictions. They cannot travel to Switzerland, Australia, China, and other countries unless they are citizens. North Americans can travel to most countries as long as they are fully vaccinated or provide a negative COID-19 PCR test.
Of course, this information is likely to change, so check the link to see the most up-to-date information.
The Best Travel Destinations For 2022
So far, the winter vaccination destinations are looking popular. This means skiing, snowboarding, snow hikes, and expeditions. This is because the snowy landscapes had had a chance to recover when COVID forced everyone to stay indoors.
With fewer people in the snow and fewer carbon footprints around the mountains, more of the terrain has managed to form on the land. These couple years of silence have also given the surviving travel operators a chance to understand how to protect their weather-dependent activities.
Of course, climate change is still a big issue for these amazing sports, but the vacation spots have learned that a smaller and exclusive number of customers can help their company maintain and grow in demand.
Remember that many people are desperate to leave their prison of a home and stretch their legs in the great outdoors. More than ever, people are traveling to destinations further afield than their original holiday places.
Because people are more likely to splash the cash and reach for their dream holiday, you should book your vacation as soon as possible.
We have mentioned this a couple of times now, but hopefully, you can see why quick but well-researched decisions are needed if you want to book the perfect vacation. Spaces are filling up fast, and if you have a specific destination in mind, we need to move just as quickly.
Of course, although venues and hotels are accepting spaces for vacationers, that doesn’t mean they won’t close down for isolation purposes. No area is safe from changing plans. Be mindful of these issues when you start booking.
Should I Get COVID Travel Insurance?
Usually, travel insurance is pushed at you by travel brokers and never actually used. The experts will say that it’s better to be safe than sorry, but it often feels as though you have thrown money down the drain.
When it comes to COVID travel insurance, this is different. Although the world is getting better at fighting this virus, there is always a chance that this two-year-long pandemic can have a resurgence.
We have seen spikes occur randomly throughout the world, and because of this, insurance is your only saving point. If your holiday gets canceled due to you catching COVID, or the company you are using closing due to too many COVID cases in their staff, then this insurance will protect you from the financial losses that occurred.
Of course, they cannot protect you from disappointment, but at least your finances will be protected. Some companies may offer you a refund due to their COVID policy anyway; however, you should ask for these details before confirming.
That being said, if you have a common cold and cannot go on your vacation due to its intensity, the same refund will not be offered to you. This goes for accidents from injury or any other issue too. These circumstances can only be financially saved from insurance.
Depending on what your holiday company offers, you should find insurances that fill the gaps they leave behind.
The insurance company should be aware of the COVID laws of all the countries you are visiting or leaving from and then calculate a rate based on the likelihood of risk. If the risk is high, the price will be high too.
Be aware that your quote might be higher or lower than the final price, as these companies will change their premiums based on changing governmental advice. The final price will be confirmed using information from the day of signing.
Because of this, we suggest getting insurance as close as possible to the day of your holiday. That way, you have an accurate payment and payout for any COVID-related issues you face.
The last couple of years have been hard on the tourism industry. Even before the pandemic took hold of the world, they were struggling with climate change destroying or harming natural landscapes.
When COVID hit, the sector was so weak that many companies folded – unable to handle the lack of customers.
Now that restrictions are lightening up, our advice above can help you navigate this new world of traveling depending on what type of travel you are hoping for.
Remember that the rules in each country will be different, and they will be changing as new variations of the virus emerge and more people get vaccinations.
Wherever you choose to travel, be sure to get COVID travel insurance. That way, you will be financially secure even if you are hit with the virus.