by Andrea Guthmann
After being locked down in a year-long pandemic, we could all use a change of scenery. The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has travel-starved consumers dreaming of venturing out again once it is safe to do so. In a recent survey by travel industry market researcher Destination Analysts, nearly 70% of Americans said they miss traveling. Living through a pandemic has many of us wanting to make those someday bucket list travel dreams a new priority. When you’re ready, here’s advice on planning that post-pandemic vacation.Play It Safe with Flexible Cancellation Policies
Airlines are offering unheard of flexibility with bookings, including no fees for flight changes and, in some cases, cancellations. United, American and Delta have joined Southwest in eliminating change fees for both domestic and international flights. Just be aware that this doesn’t apply to basic economy tickets, which remain nonrefundable and nonchangeable.Cruising
Wondering when cruising will resume? Large cruise lines, like Carnival and Norwegian, hope to be back on the water this spring; but Ralph Grizzle, editor of the cruise planning websites Avid Cruiser and River Cruise Advisor, is taking a more cautionary approach. “I’m more comfortable with a buffer. It will be the fourth quarter before I return to Europe. However, cruising in the U.S. could resume more quickly, sometime in the second quarter.”
What’s on Grizzle’s bucket list? “The pandemic has taught us that nothing is for certain. On my own bucket list is virtually any expedition cruise. I’ve done several and they’re my favorite cruises - expeditions to places like the Galapagos, Antarctica, Greenland, Russia’s Far East. I realize this may be a bit extreme for some. More mainstream on my bucket list are river cruises, a particularly good way to see Europe, or exotic destinations like Asia, Africa, or the Amazon.European Holiday
One European vacation that might be perfect for celebrating the end of the pandemic is a trip to Germany’s Christmas markets. Stuttgart has one of the oldest (dating back to the 1600’s!) and has an over-the-top New Year’s Eve celebration. Stuttgart’s WaldHotel is a historic favorite near the city center. Historic Heidelberg is another holiday favorite. Follow the cobblestone streets to Karlsplatz, where you can ice skate with a view of the 13th century castle illuminated high up on the hill.Caribbean Escape
Dreaming of an exotic beach vacation? Consider Turks and Caicos if you’re looking for an island paradise. Though people think it’s only for celebrity jetsetters, there are budget-friendly options. The condo-style units at Ocean Club Resort sit on one of the most beautiful stretches of Grace Bay, which regularly makes it onto the world’s “Best Beaches” lists.
For many, the dream vacation won’t be about where you go, but who you travel with. 2021 will see families reconnecting with grandparents and extended relatives they’ve missed. “Domestic travel, road trips and staycations will be a major element of family travel in 2021, with many families choosing to stay relatively close to home in ways that minimize contact with large crowds,” says Josh Roberts, co-founder of family travel website FamilyVacationist.com. “Vacation rentals, RVs, state and national parks will also benefit from this trend. Many tour companies are also offering “book your bubble” private vacations where the only people on the trip (besides guides) are those in your personal bubble.”
If you want to gather your loved ones somewhere farther from home, affordable non-stop flights from throughout the U.S. make the beach towns just minutes from the Cancun Airport a good choice. Consider an all-inclusive that appeals to all ages, like the oceanfront Gran Residences Riviera Cancun. There’s a complimentary kids club and free activities for adults as well, including cooking classes, tennis lessons and bicycle tours to the nearby fishing village.
Here are Josh Roberts’ tips on multi-generational vacation planning:
The past year has been rough on everyone. You might find that planning a trip lifts your spirits and serves as a reminder that better days are ahead.