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Surprising (& Exciting!) News from the Travel Industry
COVID-19 has done a number on the travel industry.
According to AAA, air travel is down 75 percent. Rail and cruise travel is down 85 percent. I know that sounds very doom and gloom, but there’s optimistic news coming out of the travel industry: Bookings for 2021 are through the roof. Yes, you read that right.
Travelers are chomping at the bit to get out and see the world. There’s a pent up demand to leave the confinement of our homes, and venture to a new (or long-time favorite) destination. People like us are not only dreaming of their next trip, they are actively planning it. Now that is optimistic news!
For those of you looking to travel in 2021, I have some very important insight for you. Read on to learn more.
AAA, AmaWaterways, and Rocky Mountaineer are all sponsors of Places to Love, but opinions are all my own.
Heart set on a specialty tour? Book now.
You might think with cruising down so much for 2020, availability will not be a problem in the coming year. Not necessarily. Case in point? River cruising. With significantly smaller boats (think 100-150 passengers versus 3,000-6,000 passenger ocean liners), river cruising is looking better than ever. Everything, from dining to excursions, is much more intimate. This is especially true with European river cruises, like AmaWaterways, which have been gaining a lot of popularity. I took my first river cruise with them down the Rhine a few years ago, and it captured my heart. You only have to unpack once! And getting from A to B is an absolute delight. Imagine drinking a glass of wine on your own private balcony while soaking up the vistas of the Rhine River Valley. It’s an awesome way to travel, but space is limited. If you want to secure your spot for 2021, book it soon.
Another trip that’s worth mentioning? Alaska. The 2020 Alaskan cruise season (it’s short—typically May – September) was essentially cancelled. Many of this year’s trips have now been rebooked for 2021—which means Alaskan cruises for next year are almost sold out. If you’ve been thinking of an Alaskan cruise for 2021 (or even 2022!), get on it! You may still score excellent pricing, but they can only sell what they have—so move fast and avoid the heartbreak.
It’s worth mentioning that rail trips are booking quickly as well. I had to reschedule my journey through the Canadian Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer this summer. I was so looking forward to it, and cancelling broke my heart! I am feeling grateful that the team at AAA mentioned the low availability to me now, while there’s still space.
Book with Confidence
There are a lot of people sitting on credit from a cancelled cruise or vacation. That the nightly news is full of disheartening information. Waiting on the sidelines while you figure out when, where and how you will rebook a cancelled vacation seems like the prudent thing to do. However, if you really do hope to rebook something within the next year, I suggest doing it now.
I know a lot of people worry if they book too far in advance, they may have second thoughts or regrets as their travel date approaches. Well, I’ve got great news for you: Most cruise lines and tour operators have created a Book with Confidence guarantee, greatly adjusting their cancellation policies. In fact, many lines are offering cancellations as late as 48 hours prior to departure. The details depend on the company, but guests who cancel may get credit toward another trip to be used within 1-2 years, or may even receive a full refund.
By rebooking that dream trip now, what do you have to lose? You can cancel up until the last minute with minimal impact.
Use an Agent
You can book everything yourself online. But right now, wouldn’t it be nice to have an expert to fall back on? My head is swirling when it comes to keeping track of travel restrictions, local restrictions, cancellations and more. AAA Travel does sponsor my show, Places to Love, but regardless of that, I am so impressed at their customer service during COVID-19. When most online travel companies required customers to rebook trips, learn about cancellation policies and more themselves, AAA made it a point to have a travel advisor reach out personally—whether by phone or email—to each and every person who booked with them. They handled all the details, from rebooking vacations to figuring out refunds, and saved customers so much time (3-hour wait times on a customer service line? No thank you!), money and frustration.
In this ever-changing world, it’s nice to know someone has your back. These folks are up to date on the latest healthy sand safety restrictions, have access to the absolute best deals, and will support you both before and DURING your trip. And did you know that working with a AAA travel advisor is free for AAA members? That’s right: that little card that gives you roadside assistance also means planning your next trip is easier than ever.
*Please note, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its no-sail order for Cruise Ships from July 24-September 30th.*
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This Post Has 9 Comments
My wife and I have already taken a leap of faith by booking two weeks in Greece and the Aegean Sea for next July. The first week is in Athens, soaking up as much culture and ancient history as we can; after that it’s a cruise to Santorini (Assyrtiko, baby!), Crete, and a couple of spots on the Turkish coast. I’m even extending the leap by teaching myself Greek on Duolingo!
Our essential attitude is Greece or bust, come hell, high water, or that damn virus. I’ll have to develop a taste for plain yogurt, which nothing a couple of shots of Ouzo can’t cure.
Such good advice, Samantha! Thanks for helping us jump start those dreams again!
We love AAA and our AAA Boise, Idaho travel agent Tonia Long. She is amazing! We had three cruises scheduled for 2020, but all were canceled. Having Tonia as our advocate in rescheduling our vacations, plus airfare, was priceless. She handled every detail for us; all we had to do was select new dates. I will never travel without the assistance of Tonia and AAA.
I, for one, will patiently wait until Covid-19 issues settle down to a safe level before booking any type of trip. The push to book now makes no sense to me as the pandemic is not under control. I am not interested in getting credit for cancelled travel or travel insurance. Getting refunds are unpredictable and I do appreciate the advice to become informed of cancellation policies. I have a AAA agent who has worked with us on many trips and will return when the time is right for us. For this traveler, it is still time to dream about travel.
I’m with you, Sophie. I used to travel weekly & when we retired, we took a few bucket list trips…then came Covid. Until we travelers can be vaccinated, how can it be safe next year? The virus will be out there. Let’s stay home & catch the second wave of travel deals.
I would love to book a cruise on a smaller ship. Have had great European river experiences on AMA Waterways and Uniworld. And ocean cruises on Oceania, Windstar and Seabourn.
But if you go over to Cruise Critic, you will see tales of woe about cancelled cruises. Some have been waiting for refunds since March. Speculation about the viability of several of the cruise lines is all over the net. At this point, US citizens are not allowed into the EU or Canada, among other countries. No telling when this will change but I’m speculating it won’t be soon since the COVID infection rates just continue to climb and new hotspots are reported on a daily basis. Don’t count on reliable, well tested vaccinations this year. Maybe 2021, but maybe not.
After waiting 4 months to get a refund for a flight United cancelled on us (and after maximum pressure from the DOT, our congressman’s office, and Chase,) I’m unwilling to risk thousands of dollars on a future trip that may never happen. I don’t want to be a creditor to a bankrupt travel company.
Already have 12 day Norwegian in W. Med. After vaccination in Nov/Dec will do 2 weeks April for Scotland/ Bruges. Then May cruise to Bermuda.
Cabin fever stinks.
Tom! What am I missing here? How do you KNOW you will be vaccinated in November or December? Yes, cabin fever does stink but we are alive.
My thoughts exactly. I’ll pass on any vaccine pushed for election day.