Here’s a little irreverent advice for travel in 2021

advice for travel in 2021

Planning to travel somewhere soon? Well, here’s a little advice: Don’t listen to the advice.

It’s dated and maybe dangerous.

The rules for travel in 2021 have changed. Ignore the talking heads. You don’t need travel tips for next year – you need a survival guide.

Advice for travel in 2021: “Anything can happen”

“Anything can happen when you’re traveling,” says Daniel Durazo, a spokesman for Allianz Travel.

But anything doesn’t have to happen to you. If you take a few precautions and plan ahead, you can avoid most problems. You’ll need the right insurance and a backup plan – and you have to book with the right companies. (Here’s some of our favorite spring break travel advice.)

So how do you travel in 2021?

Here’s a travel survival guide for next year:

Be careful

That’s the advice of Melissa DaSilva, president of Trafalgar. “Do thorough research to make educated decisions,” she says. “The world is not off-limits, and local economies need your support more than ever. But it’s crucial to be responsible and educate yourself on all guidelines, restrictions and health procedures required along the way.” In other words, 2021 won’t be the year for a spur-of-the-moment trip. Not with the pandemic still with us.

Plan ahead

“This is key,” says Linda Bendt, owner of Pique Travel, a travel agency in Minneapolis. “We’re jamming two years’ worth of travel into six to nine months – assuming things start picking up in the second quarter of next year.” She says during peak times flights will be full, hotels fully booked, and car rental companies sold out of vehicles. If you don’t plan, you’ll be stuck with another staycation.

Do you have a plan in case you get stuck somewhere? Your travel survival guide for 2021 should include one.

Know how COVID-19 affected your destination

If you think coronavirus did a number on you, then you should check your destination. “The thing most people are probably not thinking about is how badly the shutdowns have hurt the economies in places that depend on tourism,” says Mike Hallman, CEO of the medical transport and travel security company Medjet. “It’s had an impact on crime in a lot of destinations.” If you’re not sure about the place you’re visiting, Hallmann recommends the latest travel advisories from the U.S. Department of State, which contain detailed information about potential dangers in other countries. Official tourism sites are also good resources since they usually list current travel restrictions for those destinations.

Read the fine print on your travel insurance

Here’s another piece of advice for travel in 2021: Know your insurance coverage. Most American travelers don’t know that their medical insurance won’t work overseas unless they make special arrangements, says Christine Buggy, vice president of marketing at Travelex Insurance. “Most U.S. health insurance companies will not provide coverage outside of the country, which can leave a traveler with a hefty bill in the event of a medical emergency,” she says. She recommends looking for coverage that treats COVID-19 like any other sickness and does not exclude the pandemic.

Expect more lockdowns

Do you have a plan in case you get stuck somewhere? Your travel survival guide for 2021 should include one. “Travelers should consider trips that can be planned around staying with friends and family with the option to then lock down in hotels later,” advises Christina Tunnah, general manager for the Americas at World Nomads. Her tip: Sign up for hotel and airline newsletters so you can find the best rate for lodging and transportation if there’s another pandemic lockdown.

Know when to go – and when to stay

If there’s a vaccine next year, it will not be an instant cure. Some parts of the world will recover faster than others. “When planning to travel, it’s best to visit areas with low COVID-19 activity,” says Zulfah Albertyn-Blanchard, a health intelligence analyst at WorldAware, a security company. “This will make it less likely you’ll infect someone else – or become infected yourself – during your travels.” So how do you find out if a place is safe? Start with its State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel advisories. And if there’s a travel ban, that’s a good sign that you should wait.

More advice for travel: Have a backup plan

Before the pandemic, a lot of travelers took a vacation without a Plan B. Don’t do that in 2021, advises Sherry Sutton, vice president of marketing and communications at Travel Insured International. “Have a backup plan,” she advises. That includes a checklist of what to do if you run into trouble, from emergency contacts to direct numbers for your travel insurance company. And if your destination shuts down, know what you’ll do to salvage the vacation.

Surviving 2021 will require not just new skills, but the right frame of mind as well. Hit the road with a 2019 attitude and you might regret it, say travel experts.

“Traveling in the near future will require flexibility as we continue to navigate this pandemic,” says Jessica O’Riley, a spokeswoman for Travel Iowa. “Pack your patience.”


The best way to get there in 2021

Here’s even more advice for travel next year:

The best airlines and hotels: the ones with flexible policies. “Make sure you have an easy out with anything you book,” says Kirsten Peterson, owner and senior travel consultant at Chicago-based Peterson Travel Group. “Situations and conditions are changing rapidly.” For example, carriers like Southwest Airlines have a well-deserved reputation for being transparent and free of onerous fees.

The best travel insurance: “Cancel for any reason.” That’s the assessment of Jeremy Murchland, president of Seven Corners, a travel insurance company. You can cancel your trip for any reason. “You’ll be reimbursed for up to 75% of nonrefundable trip costs if cancellation must occur,” he says. Cancel for any reason is a little pricier – between 10% and 12% of the cost of your trip, about twice as expensive as regular insurance. But if you have to cancel because of another outbreak, it’s worth it.

The best plan: One made by a professional. Experts say your travel survival guide for 2021 should include a professional travel adviser. An agent can help you navigate the uncertainty of travel next year. Whether you’re traveling out of state or out of the country, a pro can make sure all of your paperwork is in order. “You may need to have negative test results in hand to enter certain states or countries,” says Andrew Williams, managing director of Travel At Will, a Houston travel agency. “Other destinations may have mandatory self-quarantine periods upon arrival.”

Remember, my nonprofit consumer advocacy organization is always here to help. Here’s how to contact us. We’re also happy to offer you our best advice for travel in 2021.

Posted in On Travel

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue has exclusive relationships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations and Elite Medical Group. Global Rescue provides best-in-class services that identify, monitor and respond to client medical and security crises. Learn more about Global Rescue.

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Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

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Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

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The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

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Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

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VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

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Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

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