Special to USA TODAY
Published 4:34 PM EDT Jul 26, 2020
If you’ve canceled your summer vacation, you’re probably dreaming about your next one. It’s OK. So are a lot of people.
Rob Hall is one of them. He skipped his family cruise to Italy this summer but is optimistic that the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak will be over by fall. He’s planning to fly to Maui for a few days in October – at least that’s his dream.
“We so badly need to get away,” says Hall, a retired financial services manager from Walnut Creek, California.
He’s not the only one. A survey of travelers by Qtrip finds plenty of pent-up demand for travel. A surprising 40% of respondents plan to travel this summer. Twenty-three percent are waiting until the fall or winter, and 7% are holding off until spring. (The remaining 30% say they don’t have a clue when they’ll travel again.)
“We were surprised to see how many people were undaunted and planning to get out there right away,” Qtrip CEO Jeff Klee says
This is uncharted territory for travelers. These trips are different from the ones we used to take. Our travel dreams are bigger and richer. We’re buying travel insurance and relying on the continued flexibility of airlines, hotels and other travel suppliers if we want to make schedule changes.
The travel dreams are bigger this time
What happens when you sit around and think about travel all day? You make big plans. According to Virtuoso, a network of travel advisers, the top dream destinations for its users since April are South Africa, Italy and Australia.
Julie Kandalec booked an “epic” adventure next year with her father and brother: a cruise to the Antarctic in February. She figures that the rates would never be better and that it will be the safest possible vacation.
“The ship is small and won’t be filled to capacity,” says Kandalec, an expert on nail art who lives in New York. “It’s 100 crew and 200 guests maximum, so that’s key.”
Travelers are not thinking small this summer. When it comes to trips, they’re spending a lot more. The average domestic trip cost has increased by 18%, to $3,587, according to the travel insurance site Squaremouth.com. The average international trip cost has grown even more – by 24% – to $4,588.
They make sure they’re insured
Another thing that’s different this year: travel insurance. A new survey by NerdWallet says 45% of travelers are likely to purchase travel insurance for leisure trips after COVID-19, more than twice as many as before the pandemic. Travelers aren’t buying the cheapest travel insurance – they’re going for the pricey cancel-for-any-reason policies, which allow them to call off their trip and receive a partial refund.
Doreen Welsh, a high school guidance counselor, plans to buy the “best” policy for her trip to Aruba in late December.
“We know things can happen,” she says. Aruba, for all its natural beauty, has a health care system that makes her a little nervous. She says guests with medical issues may get flown elsewhere, depending on the issues. So she’s not taking any chances.
What does the future hold?
Ian Marcus was scheduled to travel to Greece for his honeymoon in May. Marcus, a real estate appraiser from Rochester, Michigan, decided to reschedule his vacation for next May.
“But now we have to plan with the knowledge that it could get canceled again or that there might not be as many attractions or restaurant options available,” he says.
That’s a valid concern. When a country goes on lockdown, all bets are off. Everything could be open one day, then the next day, everything’s on lockdown. That’s life during the pandemic, and you’d better get used to it.
Is international travel allowed? See reopening dates for Canada, Mexico, Maldives and other spots
Fortunately, travel companies have remained flexible with their refund and change policies as the outbreak lingers. That gives travelers planning a trip a little peace of mind.
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“Luckily, airlines have been honoring their policies about canceling trips and not charging customers extra to do so,” says Andre Boyer, a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He plans to visit Maui, Hawaii, this year and wants to visit Europe with his girlfriend as soon as it’s allowed.
Not yet: EU extends travel ban on Americans amid spike in US coronavirus cases
Plan carefully, my friends
It’s OK to dream about your next vacation. But here’s the reality: Travel in the second half of 2020 is fraught with as much peril as opportunity. Some trips will be cheaper, but they’re also riskier. Plan them with care. Remember, the safest trip may be the one you don’t take.
The top 10 dream destinations
According to Virtuoso Wanderlist, a new online trip planning tool, here are the most dreamed-about destinations of 2020. The destinations are based on Wanderlist trips users have compiled under their profiles since April.
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate. Contact him at email@example.com or visit elliott.org.
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