David Fishman of Cadillac Travel Group says travel planning is a “day-by-day” experience.
Though it seems like the world is slowly starting to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, traveling can still be a tricky (and sometimes, risky) business.
While traveling inside the continental United States is still the safest bet, travelers may risk getting stuck in foreign countries due to sudden or unexpected COVID-19 restrictions, or in the event the traveler contracts the illness and isn’t able to return home.
Travel agent David Fishman, 61, of Cadillac Travel Group, says some clients are also facing canceled trips, particularly on European cruises that are now being put on hold for the remainder of the year. Despite selling tickets to customers, the cruises are being canceled.
Fishman says the COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest upheaval the travel industry has faced in his nearly 40 years of work, with the closest similar event being 9-11.
Fishman says travel planning is a “day-by-day” experience. “Things could shut down or something could change by tomorrow,” he advises. “It really depends on vaccines, outbreaks and a number of other things.”
Yet this hasn’t stopped people within the Jewish community from traveling. Fishman has seen a huge uptick in “bucket list” travel planning and what he calls “revenge travel” — people hoping to travel extensively to make up for the lost year of travel in 2020.
With the travel industry back to 60% normal operation, in Fishman’s estimation, he believes the world will see a tremendous growth in travel once things become more stable and steady.
In the meantime, there are several steps people can take to travel smarter and more safely and comfortably, particularly for those who are taking their first trip since COVID-19 restrictions have lifted or might be on the fence about planning a trip.
Pick Consistent Destinations
Though countries that have just lifted travel restrictions may seem tempting to travel to, Fishman says opting for a more consistent choice can give you peace of mind (and ideally, uninterrupted travel plans).
Traveling within the continental United States is a lower-risk choice for Americans. Fishman also notes that Mexico has been very consistent, making it a great vacation spot to consider. Some Caribbean islands and Costa Rica have also proven reliable, Fishman says.
Do Your Research
Once you settle on your location, it’s important to do as much research as you can. Look at everything and then some. Even within the continental U.S., restrictions can vary state by state, meaning museums and other attractions may be temporarily closed in the city you’re traveling to. Or, they may offer limited tickets on an advanced reservation basis. State-by-state restrictions can also impact hotel availability, amenities and even dining options near you.
For those traveling internationally, it’s important to know quarantine policies both in your arrival and departure cities. Travelers should also be wary of how international countries handle positive COVID-19 cases to avoid an unfortunate scenario of getting stuck somewhere.
Consider Travel Insurance
Fishman says, above all, travelers should consider travel insurance to cover the unexpected. This can be especially helpful for surprise medical costs, interrupted or canceled travel plans and more common issues like lost luggage. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic adding an extra layer of uncertainty and chance to most travel plans, he says it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Do Only What Makes You Comfortable
At the end of the day, it’s smart to pick a trip (if any) that makes you feel comfortable. If you’re not physically or mentally ready to travel yet, that’s OK. Vacations are for fun, enjoyment and relaxation, and you’ll want to be able to do all three without having worries in the back of your mind. While some people might want to dive right into traveling, others may want to start small (such as a quick local trip) and slowly build their way up to a level of comfort that works for them.
Ultimately, Fishman says being prepared is your biggest defense. “Know your coverage,” he advises. “And be flexible with your plans.”