How to prepare to plan trips post COVID-19

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In this time of uncertainty, it’s tricky, stressful and sometimes overwhelming to think about travel again. When will restrictions be lifted? What will it be like when they are lifted? Will our favorite hotels even reopen? Since Max and I both obsessively read every travel-related news piece ever written on a daily basis, we figured we would sum up our learnings and advice. Do note, though, that we are not medical experts and cannot provide any advice on the pandemic. Similarly, we have absolutely no idea when it will be “safe” to travel again. The purpose of this post is to provide some of our thoughts and tips for when it does become safe to continue life’s adventures around the world.

When to book

The only thing we can say for certain is now is not the time to travel. While we cannot give you any real guidance here since the situation changes every day, we would recommend looking no sooner than July at the earliest. Most experts are currently saying “fall is the new summer” and to look at September onwards. Flight tracker companies and deal sites are sending deals from July on. Personally, Max and I just booked a fully refundable trip in July, knowing full well the chances right now are 50/50, leaning on miraculous if it actually happens. We also have a trip booked in September that we booked about 8 months ago and are hopeful for that trip.

Flight Deals

As you may notice if you follow some of the travel flight trackers out there like Scott’s or Dollar Flight Club etc, the deals are starting to come flying in to beautiful places all over the world at insanely low prices. Our recommendation at this point is to book nothing before July departure dates. As it currently stands, May and June will be a no-go on travel, and even if you can go, I would strongly urge you to wait.

For the best deals, here is a list of our favorite sites:

Typically, we use one of these flight apps to locate the best deal and whenever possible, we book directly with the airline. If you do book with a third party app like Orbitz or Expedia, be sure to add your email to your reservation directly with the airline after booking to ensure there are no issues later on. The DOT requires airlines to provide FULL refunds to travelers if the airline cancels the flight, so keep that in mind as well. It may take you 4-5 hours on hold with the airline to make it happen, but it is a requirement.

Where in the world you’ll find the best deals

The best deals will be to popular tourist destinations that have been hardest hit during this time. Example include the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico and the like. My best guess is that destinations without major tourism will be less affected, since they offer fewer flights to begin with and will generally not offer rock bottom discounts. Fiji is another example of a very popular tourist destination for travelers from Australia, that’s currently experiencing a huge drop in bookings and therefore may be offering some excellent deals.

In the last few days, I’ve seen excellent deals to the Dominican Republic in the $250-300 range from California, Bahamas from $300, Central American from $220+. Hawaii is promoting major deals from the SF/LA area at $200 roundtrip. If you have somewhere in mind, be sure to set up a Google Flight Alert so you can get emails when the price changes.

Hotel bookings

Whatever you do, make sure your hotel booking is refundable. Many hotel companies, like Marriott and Shangri-La, have made all bookings during this time fully cancellable and refundable. I’ve heard many horror stories already of people fighting hotels and vacation rentals for their money back, and it’s unnecessary stress.

If your hotel of choice is not offering the widespread refundable policy during your travel dates, our recommendation is to book the refundable rate to secure the room, which is often a bit more expensive. As you get closer to the arrival date and you can guarantee that the trip is going to happen, check Trivago and see if there are any deals on that hotel. You may be surprised to find cheaper rates the closer you get.

Stay alert

Regardless of when you decide to travel and to where, we recommend staying alert of any travel restrictions, quarantine regulations and advisories. Be sure to check the following sites before your trip:

Also, be sure to review the country you are visiting’s government site. Every country will have its own restrictions or requirements for entry and exit.

When you do travel, be prepared to wipe down your seats, use purrell constantly and stay alert. For more information on our favorite carry-on essentials for staying safe, check out our recent post.

Don’t lose hope!

Our traveling days will return and when they do, we will return to our adventures with gratitude and appreciation for the beautiful world we live in. Book your travels, daydream and know that we are all in this together. It’s healthy to daydream about our next destinations and about the amazing travels we will soon be on. We hope that this guide helps you feel more prepared to plan your next adventure. Just remember, during this time, refundable travel is the way to go.

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