Between the promise of a coronavirus vaccine and the plethora of trips, cruises and lodgings on sale, travelers may be tempted to buy now for future vacations. But the crystal ball remains cloudy as to when you might be able to travel freely, given the frequency of virus surges, shifting quarantine requirements and border closures. Given weak bookings, will your travel provider even be in business by the time your trip rolls around?
“Travel will become expensive once we have a vaccine and life rebounds again,” said Stella Shon, the travel and credit cards expert at ValuePenguin, a personal finance website. “If you see a great deal, as long as you take the necessary precautions to protect yourself in the event of interruption or cancellation, it’s not a bad idea to book now, especially if you can change or cancel without penalty.”
Most experts agree the best deals to consider are those for the second half of 2021 and beyond, when travel and prices are expected to pick up. For some, travel planning is a psychological lifeline.
“I will some days book trips in the future because it does release endorphins,” said Brian Kelly, a loyalty rewards expert and the founder of the travel site The Points Guy, who has traveled to French Polynesia during the pandemic. “I do believe there’s joy in the simple act of booking a trip.”
For now, deals on later 2021 trips, if you can get them, are a reasonable bet as long as you take the following steps to protect your investment.
Look for flexible terms
Hotel bookings have historically been easy to cancel without penalty within a day or two of arrival.