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Writer-s-Bloc

Are people even booking travel right now?

Travel amidst COVID-19

By Rachela Pollock

The current state of travel is something that we have never seen before. COVID-19 has brought travel across the world to a shattering halt, and many have been left disappointed with trips that they’ve planned for years now needing to be cancelled. 

With this much uncertainty it’s hard to know whether it’s still OK to book your trip for the fall or 2021. Many of my clients are asking if people are still booking for the future and the short answer is yes; some are still looking forward to getting away and are hanging on to hope that things will change for the better over the next few months. 

However, it’s truly a different frame of mind when booking than what it has been in the past. There are a few factors to take into consideration before you book and, after 10 years in the travel industry, here is my take on what will help when planning your future travels: 

1. Your comfort levels. This is number 1 on the list and not to be put any lower! Booking a trip is supposed to be enjoyable and exciting; from the starting stages of finally saying yes, to researching the best spots and then booking your seat on the plane. Once the trip is booked, the last thing you want to do is stress over it, so if you are comfortable booking the trip now and waiting to see what will happen, then absolutely go for it. But if you feel like you’ll be checking the news and travel advisories every day while constantly worrying that the trip might not happen – then I suggest you wait. Everyone is different, so be sure to ask yourself this first and foremost.

2. You might have to cancel or re-book your dates. OK, I know it’s hard to think about, but I’m going to give it to you straight because sugar-coating things should only be saved for doughnuts. There is a possibility that if you book a trip now you may have to cancel closer to your departure date. I have my own trips booked in October and December and I’m not touching them until I am told that I 100% have too. But, I have come to the realization that the trip may not happen and I am comfortable to wait and see how things play out (that’s why number 1 is so important). 

3. Know the terms and conditions of what you’re booking. This is key to lowering your stress levels! Knowing exactly what you’re booking, when payments are due, and what is or isn’t refundable ensures you will not be surprised later. The more information you have in advance, the easier it will be to handle any travel advisories that may affect your trip. 

4. The money you put towards your trip might only come back to you as a credit. Yes, more hard facts. But booking a trip is an investment into yourself, your business and/or your well-being with the thought that you are wanting to travel now, or maybe again in the future. When booking in advance be sure to ask what options offer deposits so you don’t have to pay it all upfront. Most all-inclusive packages can be purchased with a $250 deposit per person and the remainder isn’t due until 60 days or so prior to departure (depending on the product). This can secure your price and give you plenty of time to not worry about what changes are happening. Deposits are typically non-refundable, but right now the suppliers are offering future travel credits for people that cannot travel due to COVID-19. They are prioritizing this offer by departure date focusing on those travelling in the next month or so. Booking now with a deposit secures your spot on a future trip with more flexibility. 

These are a few things to keep top of mind when planning your travels for the future; we are still being hopeful. People are booking for later in the year and there are policies in place to give you a sigh of relief with credit options and travel insurance coverage specific for cancellations.

Dreams of travelling again can come true, and as a person who loves to travel, I am the first to admit how challenging this feeling of uncertainty is. My hope is that as the months go on, we slowly start to see change – a change in the world, in ourselves and in each other.

Rachela Pollock is travel manager for the Flight Centre Groups Okanagan department. Connect with her through Facebook and Instagram.

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