By Debra Loew · March 2022
After two years of lockdowns, quarantines, and confusing testing requirements, consumers are more than ready to start traveling again. They are booking more and longer vacations, and they are spending more to upgrade their experiences having saved up during the pandemic.
But along with an increase in interest and bookings are the varied misconceptions about traveling in a post-COVID world. Below are some of the most common ones to help travelers separate fact from fiction.
While no aspect of life is immune from the spread of COVID, travel is one of the most restricted activities in our daily lives and one that is subject to higher levels of testing and preventive measures. Science and data show that the rate of transmission is much higher when participating in regular daily activities such as shopping, going to a restaurant, or working out at a local gym. Hotels have invested millions of dollars upgrading ventilation systems and introducing new cleaning protocols to ensure rooms and public areas are disinfected to the highest degree possible. Cruise lines are doing 21x the rate of testing than the U.S. is doing overall, and the positivity rate aboard a cruise ship is much lower than onshore where it is 33% higher, according to data provided by Cruise Lines International Association. In addition, the cruise industry has achieved a nearly 100% rate of vaccination compared to the general U.S. population at nearly 63% or Canada where the rate is approximately 80%.
Travel advisors have long encouraged their clients to purchase insurance to protect them from large out of pocket expenses while traveling and potential emergency situations. The pandemic has only reinforced the need to have a safety net that travel insurance provides. However, not all plans are equal, and it’s important to read the fine print and to consult a professional to ensure your plan covers what you need. No matter what your vaccination status is, if you plan to travel, you may want to have a financial safeguard in place for pandemic-related problems. This is especially true if you’re traveling abroad where your health plan may have limited global coverage. Travel insurance can provide that safety net, but not all travel insurance plans cover COVID-related problems. To help you find the right plan, ask your travel advisor which ones offer the best coverage if you were to need to quarantine as a result of a positive COVID test or for other situations that are unrelated to the pandemic but can result in unexpected expenses.
Ironically, the pause in travel actually resulted in an increased desire to travel more sustainably post-pandemic. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), 83% of global travelers surveyed said they would make sustainable travel a priority in the future. But while many travelers want to travel more responsibly, they often don’t know where to start. Travel advisors affiliated with Ensemble Travel Group can help their clients offset their carbon imprint through affiliations with organizations such as Cool Effect and Trees4Travel. In addition, your travel advisor can help ensure that you support local businesses and tour operators to ensure your money spent locally stays there and benefits the communities that rely on tourism as their primary economic driver.
While business travel dropped off significantly during the pandemic, it has resurfaced in a new form. As the lines between work and life blur, so do the distinctions between business and personal travel creating a hybrid of business and leisure travel now referred to as “bleisure.” This trend goes beyond bringing your family along to a conference; it allows for adding weekends or weeks to work trips while also bringing the family along.
The reality is that travel advisors can save you time and money. Advisors have relationships with partners that include pre-negotiated rates that are not only better than what you would get from booking on your own or through an online travel agency, but they often also include amenities such as complimentary breakfast, upgrades when available, and early check-in/late check-out. More importantly, they are an advocate for you in case of an emergency.
While the pandemic may have shown on a grand scale how having a travel advisor can help you during a crisis, there will always be something that has the potential to ruin your vacation. Whether it’s a flight cancellation, problems at a hotel, or an unexpected illness, a travel professional can quickly jump in, assess the situation, and then navigate all the roadblocks to find a solution.
While travel confusion may still linger as restrictions are lifted around the world, your travel advisor can help you plan your dream vacation and help ensure smooth sailing.