It has been a long year since most of us have been able to take a vacation, and the world of travel has changed dramatically.
Many things have changed, so planning ahead and being prepared will make for a great vacation in 2021. Here are some things you can do to make your vacation safe and fun.
This is not the time to grab the first internet deal you see advertised. Unfortunately, there are many scam artists ready to take advantage of the pent-up demand. There are also legitimate travel companies that may not survive until you take your vacation, so paying too far in advance is not a good idea.
It’s always been a good idea to purchase travel insurance, especially for trips outside of the U.S. Because of the pandemic, it is necessary that everyone has proper insurance coverage. A comprehensive policy provides coverage for issues such as trip cancellation, medical expenses, emergency evacuation, bankruptcy of suppliers and emergency assistance.
Some international destinations require that visitors have travel insurance to cover medical expenses. Regular health insurance policies usually do not provide coverage outside of the United States. A professional travel agent can assist you with travel insurance policies to find the best option for you.
One of the only silver linings to come out of the pandemic is that all major airlines have revoked the change fees (previously between $125 and $350 per ticket) on their regular tickets for domestic and international travel. This does not include their basic economy discounted tickets, although there may be some exceptions. Always be leery of basic economy type tickets, and read all fine print. Many times, they do not allow carry-on bags, and no changes for any reason, no pre-assigned seats and other restrictions.
If the airlines cancel a flight, they are to give you a refund, but you have to ask for it and they do not make it easy. Do not expect a refund if you choose to cancel a reservation. The airline will hold on to the amount you paid for your tickets to be used as a credit for future travel, usually within one to two years. You do not have to travel to the same place, just use the same airline.
Travel suppliers have different policies regarding changes or cancellation. In general, if the company cancels a trip, you should get a refund. If you cancel a trip or are unable to travel due to government restrictions, you may only get a credit for a future trip. Some companies are making it easy to change plans. It is especially important to read the fine print in regards to cancellations and refunds.
Passports & Real ID
Oregon will begin requiring either a passport or a driver license with “Real ID” as of Oct. 1, 2021 for boarding all airline flights. The Real ID requires a new driver license, presenting extensive paperwork at the DMV and paying $70 for renewing a license with Real ID. It is much easier to get a passport, as they are good for 10 years and the cost is $145. You need a passport to travel to anywhere outside of the U.S. It can take 3 months or longer to get a passport processed, so start the process early.
Book through a pro
The services of a professional travel agent are more important than ever to help you navigate the post-pandemic world of travel. A skilled agent will have your personal safety as their top concern. The safety of your investment of time and money is a priority when choosing travel suppliers. Finding the perfect combination for the vacation you have dreamed about is the ultimate goal.
Meet Vacation MOM
Donnita Bassinger has been a travel agent for three decades and enjoys sending families on vacations around the world. She lives in Oregon with her husband and three boys, is the owner of VIP Vacations and is an active volunteer with local organizations.
Contact Donnita at 541-913-5272 or on facebook @VacationMOM