Thinking About Traveling in 2021?
By Susan Stephens
Have you got the itch to get out and travel to have a change of scenery? Regardless COVID-19 is still alive and well around the world, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the travelling and the travel industry. In light of last year's COVID-19 outbreak the travel industry and Global Governments have implemented a series of precautionary safety measures in order help both combat COVID-19 and keep the travel industry alive. Going forward it is safe to say travelling is still possible despite our world is still in the midst of a global pandemic.
Things have dramatically changed in the international travel arena with new regulations and restrictions to keep everyone safe. But that doesn’t mean you cannot have an amazing trip, even if it's just domestically. Just keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 news with the travel requirements and restrictions and it can be smooth sailing.
Despite everything that has happened over the past year, there remains a deep desire to connect, to socialize and collaborate, to maintain family and friendship bonds – and to do so through travel. In this day and age families more than ever before are separated by long distances and oceans henceforth making family reunions more harder to eventuate.
Air Travel Has Changed for the Better Around the World
(Photo - inside the cabin of a commercial airliner)
Nearly every corner of the globe is experiencing and handling travel amidst the pandemic in different ways. While travel is slowly opening back up, it helps to know how different regions of the Western hemisphere are faring. First, some things to keep in mind for U.S. travelers:
- As of January 26th, 20201, if you are traveling internationally, the CDC requires that you will need to show proof of a negative Covid test taken within 3 days before departure (or show proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days) when returning to your home country. This is required for everyone 2 years of age and over.
- On April 25th, the European Union announced it is considering allowing Americans to travel to EU countries with proof of a full vaccination by approved providers (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson). Details are forthcoming as to the exact start date, but it is expected that summer travel to EU countries will be possible. Here is the website to check.
- You may have heard of the REAL ID for domestic travel. Early 2020 before Covid hit, the US federal government required domestic air passengers who do not have a passport to obtain a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license by October 1st, 2021. Due to Covid, that requirement was originally pushed back one year, but as of April 27th, 2021, that deadline has been delayed further until May 3, 2023, as the U.S. continues to recover from the pandemic. So even though you have some time, it is worth getting the REAL ID as soon as you can while it’s fresh in your mind.
For Australia: Currently, Australians and New Zealanders are free to travel within and between the two countries thanks to the Trans-Tasman travel bubble agreement. However, international travel is still not encouraged as international border restrictions will remain enforce at least until mid 2022, check with this website for the latest developments.
(Photo - Air New Zealand aircraft)
For the UK and the EU: As more European citizens become vaccinated, Europe is strongly considering opening up its borders to more than non-essential travel for its residents to move freely from country to country. With restrictions easing and policies changing by the day, this is a good source to keep abreast of current restrictions.
For Canada: While there are still many restrictions on foreigners entering Canada, Canadian citizens can travel within their own country, as well as internationally to approved countries. Check this website, as the situation can change at any time.
The Almighty Road Trip
(Photo - A scenic road in Australia)
Air travel is steadily increasing, so is the desire for the tried and tested road trip in one’s own country or continent. You will see lots of cars, RV’s, and other recreational vehicles take to the roads, as many people are put off air travel preferring to travel on the road (if even temporarily). Road tripping was popular back in 2020 during and after the lockdowns and it will continue to be popular in 2021 and well into the future.
Road travel provides freedom and flexibility. You can hit the open road without necessarily having a set itinerary. RV travel in particular is booming, you can take your ‘hotel’ with you, and not have to be in one place at a certain time. It’s serendipity at its finest. Road tripping is where the journey is just as wonderful (or more so) than the destination and lets one savour the trip at your own pace.
(Photo - Campervan parked at a beach)
With road travel, you can enjoy the gorgeous landscape, sample local and regional food at your own pace, and drive through quaint villages and towns, enjoying the wide-open spaces. It is a refreshing alternative from rushing to make that flight or sticking to a certain group tour schedule.
Travel is Becoming More Thoughtful
(Photo - Kayaking the Sydney Harbour)
Want to learn a new skill and experience a new destination all at once? Consider signing up for a cooking class in Tuscany, or learn how to draw and paint in Rajasthan, or pick up a local craft in Gujarat. Want more adventure? How about a bucket-list activity in the Himalayas? Many adventure travel suppliers are partnering with local craftsmen to give visitors exactly this opportunity – it is a way to immerse oneself in the local culture, making for the ideal travel experience.
Self-care and wellness vacations are also on the rise, and goodness knows we could all use some of that! It’s no surprise that people want to feel better when they return home. Whether it is a wellness retreat in a far-away land or in your own hometown or a spa holiday by the sea. Taking advantage of these unique travel opportunities go a long way in boosting the local economies of your chosen destination.
In addition, private homeowners are opening their doors and offering private homestays (not just of the Airbnb variety). Gathering the family and renting a vacation home for long stays is the ideal way to reconnect with family and friends in a new destination that offers all of the comforts of home.
Sustainable and eco-friendly travel is on the rise. One silver-lining moment for the world during the pandemic has been seeing the skies and oceans becoming more clean as world pollution decreased during the lockdowns. What is also great to see is wildlife has even returned to areas where it had dwindled. Many experts want to continue this trend, and travelers are following suit by demanding to stay in hotels with a solid sustainability program, as well as eco-friendly vacation packages and retreats out in nature.
(Photo - Woman hiking the Grampians in Victoria)
Slow travel is also becoming increasingly common. In an age where many of us can earn a living from our laptops, it allows one to freely travel without the limitations of a normal 9 to 5 job. We can work from our computers, while slowly savouring a new destination, without the restriction of a one or two-week vacation.
The Travel Deals are Abundant
(Photo - Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast)
There are many more deals to be had. So far in 2021, there is an abundance of bargains, particularly for late 2021 going into 2022, for both flights and hotels. With this comes the airlines’ relaxing of cancellations and rescheduling restrictions with little to no fees, which further enhances demand. Delta, American, and many other airlines have all but eliminated change fees to help people feel more comfortable booking tickets. So don’t be surprised to find that your flight this summer is fully booked!
If you are wondering whether or not your middle seat will be empty, you can probably count on it being filled. Most airlines now are completely filling flights, although their cleaning protocols have been taken up several notches, so it is completely safe to fly with someone right next to you. Many airlines offering contactless check-in options, and masks are still required at all times during the flight, except when actively eating or drinking.
Regardless of where your travels may take you in 2021 and beyond, rest assured that by following local and international protocols, traveling has never been safer. With increasing cleaning efforts, social distancing, and updates of border regulations, there is no reason not to travel as long as your destination permits it. The bottom line is, travel is evolving for the better, and these emerging trends in 2021 reflect the new reality of the current age.
So what are you waiting for? Book that trip today!
Written by Susan Stephens