Now the summer starts to get closer, many people wonder whether they will be able to go on holidays this year, or even better: this summer. A quick enquiry among my readers makes clear that most of us cannot wait to travel again and want to travel as soon as it is possible. After all these months of staying at home, people are ready for new adventures again. But what is wise in these insecure times? What risk factors should you take into account when considering booking new holidays for this year?
Like many of us discovered over the past few months, having to cancel upcoming trips is no fun at all. That’s not something you want to happen again. The hassle, the disappointment. You looked forward to that holiday. Such a big bummer when you cannot go. Shitty Corona. And its side effects.
Booking a new trip when a negative travel advice is in effect, is risky. Are you in general a risk-taker or do you prefer to play safe? Playing safe might sound boring, but consider the fact that it does not only concerns money, but also your health and safety. I know, we are all fed up with staying home and in the need for new adventures in our lives, but not at all costs, right? How much risk are you willing to take to ensure you have that holiday scheduled? How important is that to you? Do you mind booking something last minute instead? Food for thought.
In general, travel cancellation insurances do not accept claims when the trip was booked (or changed) when a negative travel advice is/was already/still in effect. So better wait until lifted. My travel insurance does not cover any Corona (COVID-19) related claims of trips booked after March 15, not changes to existing bookings either (for example to make a trip longer). Embassies are usually not able to help should you get into trouble in a red or orange marked area. More information about negative travel advice in my earlier article To travel or not to travel? Corona and other disasters lead to travel dilemma.
What destination do you have in mind to go to? What is the Corona situation there now? Can this destination be reached within a few hours by car or will you have to fly? Thumb rule: the further away and the poorer the country is, the riskier it will be to travel there soon. Especially countries that in normal situation already struggle with providing sufficient healthcare to its inhabitants, may become tricky holiday destinations for the coming year or so. Some countries depend so much on tourism that they might decide to open up for tourists again when it is not really safe?
Sorry to say but travel to countries like South Africa and Nicaragua, I just do not see it happening safely this year. Criminality may rise because people are hungry. My advice would be: wait and only book when the travel advice becomes positive again.
There are many scenarios that predict a so-called 1.5 meter society (social distancing) for about two years (!). That will not be possible with our current way of traveling via airports and airplanes, things would have to change. Who knows what the effect will be on flight ticket prices then? Some airlines now guarantee re-scheduling tickets for the same price as the original, like Emirates. Some offer free rescheduling service when needed, like KLM. Sounds tempting, right?
It would make sense that in general flight tickets will rise this year, when passengers require more space and only half or one-third of the seats can be filled to guarantee sufficient distance. Several airlines also announced to cut their flight schedules, so flight possibilities will be less than what we were used to before Corona crisis started. Less seats available usually means higher ticket prices, should demand rise (once the travel bans are lifted). Plus, airlines and hotels may go bankrupt in the meantime.
A lot of countries and EU as a region have set the rule in March that everyone must go into 14-days of self-quarantine after arrival. Well, if your holidays this year is only going to be 10 days, that’s not really a right match, is it? Mid-May the EU will announce whether they will extend this or not. Fingers crossed!
In the meantime, if you get caught not respecting the local regulation around self-quarantine after arrival, you would risk for example a fine. In The Netherlands you can receive a fine up to 400 EUR per person. Is that worth the adventure? Or better wait until the negative travel advice and travel limitations due to Corona are over? I would advise the latter. Unless you can cancel for free.
Also, will everything you would like to visit in that country be open then again? Like museums, restaurants, theme parks, national parks, shops, restaurants, etc. Where is the fun if those would be closed?
The Corona crisis will have an undeniable effect on the economy. For some countries worse than others, depending on its buffers and resilience. For The Netherlands a decrease in the economy of 7-8% is predicted, which only happened before during WW II. In several other countries the economy is expected to go down by 15% or more. It will take years or possibly even decades to recover from those loses. I do not want to make depress anyone, but we need to be realistic. Countries like Italy and Greece are in debt over their heads, even worse than they already were.
The world is hit hard by Corona; not only by the virus itself, but moreover the economy. And that economy influences what people can spend. On their fixed costs like mortgage, insurances and the energy bill, and also on fun things like travel. Some people will no longer be able to afford to travel, at least not for the coming period of time. Entrepreneurs and freelancers like restaurant owners, hotels, tour companies, museums, festival organizations, flower exporters, theater artists. Their first concern will be not going bankrupt and to bring food on the table again, not to travel.
So when considering booking a trip, always be honest with yourself: can I really afford to travel? How big is the chance that I will still have a job in half-year from now? Do I have enough savings? Check whether your travel insurance covers cancellation of a trip when you lose your job. Let’s hope you will never need it, but in unfortunate times you will be glad you did. Getting fired can happen to basically any employee, no-one can predict the future, better be safe than sorry! If you cannot afford travel insurance or flexibility, then don’t book anything.
So when making plans for any new holidays this year, make sure that:
- there is no negative travel advise effective anymore for your designated country;
- the designated country’s hospitals can cope with the amount of patients coming in IC;
- all applicable travel rules fit your travel plans (for example no 14-days self-quarantine requirement for a 10-days trip);
- there are no rules effective in your own country that would make it difficult to get back in;
- your travel insurance covers the necessary risks like losing your job;
- you have enough savings to cover at least 3-6 months without or a lower income;
- to build in as much flexibility and most guarantees as possible with all bookings.
For useful tips on the last point see under Re-scheduling and Booking later in the middle of my earlier article Flight cancelled, airline voucher, refund and other travel hassle due to Corona. For any holidays this year, I would suggest to you pick a place not too far from home, preferably on car driving distance. And embrace yourself for possible new disappointment should Corona and travel bans would come back because people find it too hard to keep social distance… I know also people who said they would not travel before there is a vaccine and/or good medicine against Corona.
So will we be able to go on holidays this year, possibly even this summer? I’m not so sure. I hope so. But if you cannot resist making new travel plans, at least take into account the risk factors mentioned in this article. And better take note of the tips for booking new travels to lower your risks. Fingers crossed! I have enough on my bucketlist, how about you?
In the meantime, I will enjoy the flowers in my garden at home. What are you doing to keep yourself busy at home? Where do you dream about to go on holidays this year? Share your story in a comment below.
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