What to know as you consider travel plans today
For so many people who love to travel, it’s been a tough 12 months since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. While vaccines give us hope that the crisis will ease, traveling today still requires careful planning.
COVID-19 is a factor in booking flights and making other travel arrangements. Here are some important considerations.
Check requirements to travel destinations
Currently, a number of countries and even selected states within the U.S. require that you can prove a negative COVID-19 test in the past 72 hours in order to enter. Importantly for those planning travel overseas, you will be required to get a COVID-19 test coming from most countries in order to return home.
To this point, being vaccinated generally does not alter the requirement to be tested first. If you’ve contracted COVID-19 within three months of your trip and are no longer symptomatic, you may not be required to get a test to re-enter the U.S. You’ll want to take the time to explore all of the rules for your intended destination.
Take note of airline cancellation policies
The current environment increases the chance that you will have to alter your plans at the last minute or sooner. Many airlines today offer greater flexibility to deal with cancellations and changes than was the case prior to COVID-19. Be sure to check with your carrier to understand their rules. While you may not be able to collect a refund, many airlines will allow cancellations and apply the cost you paid toward re-booking a different flight at another time or offer a voucher for future travel. As you make plans, consider your ability or willingness to fly again on the same airline in the future in order to take advantage of this flexibility.
Reservations for accommodations
Major hotel chains and even some services that allow you to reserve private rooms or properties may be more lenient these days when it comes to potential refunds. Again, it’s important to check the terms of your reservation before you lock it in to know whether you face any costs if you are forced to cancel or cut your trip short.
Given the added flexibility to rebook flights and cancel hotel reservations, that aspect of travel insurance may be less important today than was the case prior to COVID-19. Yet some form of travel insurance may make sense, and medical coverage can be particularly important for overseas travel. Be aware that typical trip insurance won’t include coronavirus as a “covered reason” for cancellation. That may require a “cancel for any reason” policy. Be sure to understand the terms of the policy before you go.
Given the complications associated with airline and overseas travel, you might prefer car travel in the coming months. It can help limit your contact with larger groups of people and most large chain hotels put an emphasis on providing a safe environment. If you plan to vacation in the U.S. and have flexibility with time, going over-the-road may prove to be a simpler option.
Randy Groff, ChFC®, CLU®, CRPC®, is a Financial Advisor with Echelon Wealth Partners, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC in Marshall, MN.