A lot of people have been asking me what they can expect from traveling, now that the travel world has opened up and countries are inviting tourists once again. Like most others in the industry, this is my first pandemic, and so while there is a lot that is unknown, there are several themes that those of us in the travel industry are seeing.
The biggest thing, as silly as it sounds, is to expect the unexpected. Anyone who has been following travel to a specific destination has noticed that things change dramatically from one day to the next. One day a country is requiring a negative Covid test, and the next day it’s quarantine. One day they require proof of vaccine, and the next day they don’t. By and large however, no matter where you’re going, it is becoming easier to enter, not harder.
Now, once you arrive in that country, things may be a little different, and nowhere do you see this stronger than if you have tried to rent a car recently. During the pandemic, many rental car companies sold off a large portion of their fleets. With the arrival of the vaccines, and with countries opening up, the demand for rental cars is high, and the availability is very low. What this means is that this may not be the best time to take that road trip, international or otherwise. If you can even find a rental car, it is likely going to be very expensive.
This doesn’t affect us at Zoom Vacations, because we are traveling as part of a group in private mini buses. So, for our trip to Peru, for instance, we will travel through Lima, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and Cusco in the comfort in style of a spacious bus, without seeing added costs for this, other than normal inflation.
The most difficult thing for us has been that we have honored the pricing from two years ago, on trips that are now taking place in 2022, and virtually all hotels are starting to charge more than they have in years, to make up for pandemic losses. Fortunately we have great relationships with our hotel partners, and they are doing the best they can to work with us. But we are definitely getting hit with higher hotel prices regardless.
Airlines are all over the place. There are still really expensive flights to some places, while flights to other destinations are still low. Basically every airline also cut flights to specific destinations, and they have not always reinstated those prior flights, even though the demand has often risen to what they were prior to the pandemic.
Regarding your sea voyages, probably the biggest challenge within the cruise industry, is
just trying to determine what is going to be required from one cruise line to the next in terms of Covid protocol. Whether vaccines, a negative Covid test, or quarantines are required seems to change from one day to the next.
With all of the changes and uncertainty, I still say it is a great time to travel. And as someone who has been able to get out and explore a little bit, I can tell you that the effect on my psyche has been more positive than I imagined it would be. So I wouldn’t let these added challenges stop you. It’s all about doing the research to where ever you are traveling, and/or traveling on a Zoom Vacations trip that takes the thinking and planning out of your hands. We do the advance planning, including Covid testing requirements, logistics, as well as setting up your departure Covid test in a foreign country so that you can easily return to back home.
One thing upon which all my friends in the travel industry agree is the recommendation to get travel insurance. With things being relatively still in flux, I think people would be an error to not have their trip protected. But, you may find that for many travel products, you won’t have a choice. For instance, for all Zoom Vacations tours but through at least 2022, we are requiring travel insurance. We are in the business of providing meaningful, special, memorable, and above all else, safe travel experiences to destinations all over the planet. Travel insurance is a necessary and worthwhile part of that. Even if you don’t end up using it, it is beneficial for the peace-of-mind alone.
It’s time to get out there and see the world again!