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by Debra Kerper, Owner,Easy Access Travel
What does the future of travel look like?
Easy answer: Nobody knows.
Complicated answer: Whatever it is, it changes every day.
A serious traveler’s perspective
Prior to the pandemic, I traveled at least once a month. My trips were a combination of cruises, land trips and travel conferences. I loved my life.
My last flight was February 1, 2020. I returned from Fort Lauderdale that day after a cruise on which I escorted a group. At that time, there was early talk of the Coronavirus infiltrating the United States. The airport was packed with travelers standing shoulder to shoulder as people boarded flights to cities around the country to return home from cruises. Little did they know that flight was to be their last for a very long time.
My next flight, scheduled for Friday, March 13, 2020, was to Budapest. The trip was cancelled suddenly, and I sadly unpacked my bags. Travel, as I knew it, changed forever that day. With my wings clipped, my suitcases became dusty, and my guest bedroom, aka my “packing room”, saw no more action from that point forward.
The current status of travel
As of this writing, all major cruise lines suspended sailing through April 30, 2021 at the earliest. Some halted service for longer depending on the destination. A few ships resumed sailing in other countries, but since we can’t get there, it doesn’t matter anyhow.
The return to sailing date seems to change every few months or so. Cruise lines gave passengers the option to receive a full refund or get a future cruise credit of 125% of their base cruise fare. They refunded deposits as well, or are in the process.
Most airlines now waive change fees to allow travelers to use their air credit at a future date. The same goes for land package suppliers. It’s important to check with your airline and travel provider to fully understand their current policies.
What to expect when you decide to travel again
Travelers must adhere to the following requirements moving forward:
- Everyone must wear a mask for all modes of travel.
- For international travel, everyone must show proof of a negative Covid19 test performed no more than three days prior to travel.
- Everyone must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test prior to returning home.
Airlines, cruise ships and resorts plan to help facilitate the testing as best they can, but every situation is different. Furthermore, these tests can be costly. What happens if you test positive and need to quarantine? Who pays for hotel, food, etc? Unfortunately, we just don’t know.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) oversees all travel related issues and are working diligently with the cruise industry to promote a Healthy Return to Sailing. However, the situation is confusing; the CDC guidelines are seemingly in a constant state of flux.
The decision to travel is a personal choice
As an avid traveler and an older adult with pre-existing medical conditions, I choose to refrain from air travel and cruising for now. This decision is the one that is best for me, though I understand it might not necessarily work best for everyone. For me, it’s important for health reasons to wait until I receive both doses of a vaccine and the rules become more consistent. I yearn to get back to traveling, however, I don’t want to be stranded somewhere or put myself and others at risk. So, for now, I’m home.
My advice to travelers
When I hear people say, “But I really need to get away!”, I get it. You might consider a driving vacation. Many people discovered new sites this past year on road trips. We have a magnificent country filled with spectacular National Parks and a myriad of places to visit.
Spend some time with my best friend, Google, and do some research. The hours zip by when you get caught up in all the options. If you prefer a beach vacation and don’t mind flying, resorts in Cancun and Cabo San Lucas are also options. These locations practice social distancing and require all guests and staff to wear masks.
Use the services of a reliable travel professional to help navigate these uncertain times. They keep up with the latest updates and can steer you in the right direction. How long Covid-19 will continue to interfere with our travel is unknown, but experts say they see blue skies ahead.
Not only will travel resume, but I believe we’ll do it better. It may look different, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be wonderful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Debra Kerper, CATA, ACC, has helped people explore the world since 1993. She owns Easy Access Travel, a Cruise Planners Franchise that is part of the American Express Retail Travel Network.
The goal of Easy Access Travel is to ensure that everyone, regardless of age or physical limitations, has the opportunity to travel. Debra, an older adult, has lived with lupus since age 20 and is a bilateral lower limb amputee. She travels extensively using various types of mobility aids (scooter, wheelchair, etc.). Debra speaks nationally about “How to Travel with Special Needs” and loves to share her expertise with everyone. Learn more at easyaccesstravel.com or call Debra at 800.920.8989.