2020 was one crazy rollercoaster of a year.
Confined to our homes, Zoom took over our lives, TikTok dances kept some of the quarantine weight off, and our summer 2020 travel plans went out the window.
Fast forward one year later, and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
The U.S. is steamrolling its vaccination rollout, mask-wearing isn’t mandatory IF you’ve got your shot, and countries in Europe are officially taking Americans off their banned lists.
It looks like summer 2021 is good to go! If you’re traveling (domestically or abroad), here are the biggest changes you can expect.
1. Vaccine Passports and COVID-19 Testing
Want to go abroad in summer 2021? You’ll need to do some research on entry requirements.
Most destinations require either:
- A negative PCR or rapid COVID test
- Proof of full vaccination
Vaccine passports are also a trend growing around the world. Much like the yellow fever certificate, a COVID vaccination certificate might become a non-negotiable if you want to travel abroad.
Then you have airlines like Qantas, pushing for vaccination to be a requirement to board flights.
So before you buy your flights this summer:
- Check local and airline regulations.
- Schedule your PCR test.
- Print proof of your vaccination.
2. Mask Mandates Will Stick Around
While the CDC has announced that fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear a mask anymore – that’s not the case worldwide.
It’s not even the case for domestic and international airlines.
In many cases, if you want to fly to New Mexico or Mexico City, you’ll need to wear a mask to check in your bags, go to airport lounges, at the bordering gates, and throughout your flight.
Delta Airlines has already banned more than 700 people from violating their mask rules. However, wearing a mask is synonymous with safety, and it’s unlikely we will see masks disappear from air travel this summer.
Even as restrictions lift for shops, restaurants, and vaccinated U.S. citizens.
3. Rise in Travel Insurance
Before the pandemic, only 10% of travelers bought travel insurance.
That’s all in the past. However, since countries have started re-opening and Americans are again on the move, 40% are purchasing travel insurance.
- Travelers might need it to enter a destination.
- Travelers are worried about getting sick and having to quarantine on vacation.
Do you want to take a financial hit if you get COVID and can’t return home? Those mandatory quarantines are NOT cheap.
4. Contactless Technologies
To prevent the spread of COVID19, there has been a rise in contactless technologies, and that trend is here to stay.
Hotels, airports, restaurants, and everyone else in the hospitality industry are looking to keep contact with other people to a minimum.
When you travel this summer, expect “touchless” options to expand. You’ll see more:
- Touchless payment options (here’s to not having to carry cash!)
- Digital menus (get used to QR code scanning)
- Keyless entries
- Touchless screening at airports (The TSA has already started rolling out biometric scanners at airports in Washington D.C.)
- Digital check-in and check-out at hotels
5. Cheap International Flights
If there’s one silver lining from a global pandemic, it’s the incredible airfare deals for summer 2021.
Hop onto Skyscanner, and you can scoop up some of the cheapest flight prices for destinations around the world.
“Why is airfare low? Shouldn’t it be more expensive?” you ask.
Airlines are using cheap airfares to lure travelers back to the skies. So, of course, there’s no better way to get someone to say yes to the trip than offering them an unbeatable deal!
That’s why I’ve seen roundtrip flights to Peru from Miami starting at $200 and flights under $300 for a roundtrip to Paris from New York City.
Take advantage while these fares last! Prices will increase as demand starts to go up.
6. Fewer Flights to Choose From
While cheap flights are aplenty, you might not have a lot of choices when it comes to flight times this summer.
With air travel demand low (yet steadily increasing), airlines are flying on a reduced schedule. So next time you book a flight, you’re not going to see as many options.
For example, United Airlines and American Airlines only have three flight time options for flights between Minneapolis and Chicago. Whereas pre-COVID, both airlines had about seven flights per day.
7. Print Everything
With everyone requiring different things, play it safe and print out everything.
- PCR test? Check.
- Proof of vaccination? Check.
- Proof of travel insurance? Double-check.
Some airlines, airports, and destinations require you to print and fill out forms before your flight. Always triple-check the requirements before you leave for your trip and bring hard copies.
- American Airlines wants to see printed-out documents before boarding and, as a result, isn’t allowing electronic boarding passes.
- Destinations like the Bahamas require you to apply for a Bahamas Travel Health Visa and present it before boarding.
- In Kenya, you can’t enter the airport without a printed negative COVID-19 test result.
8. Cruise Travel Will Change
Before cruise ships can start operating, the liners must meet the CDC’S strict infection prevention measures.
When the ships do set sail, your cruise vacation will be different. Here’s what you can expect:
- Shorter trips (cruises are capped at seven days)
- Mandatory pre-travel testing
- Disinfection and cleaning onboard
- Mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing
- Fewer interactions between guests and crew
- Fewer shore excursions (unless operators can adhere to strict health protocols)
- Reservations for group activities
While it’s still unclear if cruise ship passengers will need to show proof of vaccination, it is on the cards. A major factor is if a destination country requires it.
For example, if a cruise ship wants to stop at certain ports, vaccination passports might have to become a requirement.
9. Domestic Travel is Trending, and International Destinations are Opening
With most of the world closed to international travel, domestic travel is a big trend this summer.
Road trips to Utah are all the rage on Instagram, as well as getaways to Hawaii.
But that doesn’t mean international travel is off the table for Americans. Nearby destinations like Mexico, Turks and Caicos, and Aruba are popular destinations.
And with Greece, Iceland, and Croatia opening their borders to vaccinated U.S. travelers for the summer, there are more options for Americans who want to spend their summer further abroad.
10. Keep Up-to-Date Data on Travel Restrictions
The hardest part about planning a summer vacation is keeping up with all the border regulations and travel restrictions.
Countries are opening their borders, closing them, banning travelers departing from destinations like South Africa, and others still require a 14-day quarantine period on arrival.
How do you keep up with all these different rules?
Delta Airlines has released an interactive tool to help you keep up to date with the latest information.
All you need to do is click on the country you want to visit, and you’ll get:
- Entry requirements
- COVID test time period requirement
- Local regulations (curfews, restaurant opening times and capacity, etc.)
For example, if you are planning to travel to Andorra or nearby countries, check for the local rules first. Their residential options could also differ from other countries (you can read more here).
Plan accordingly then!
As you start planning your trip for summer, use the tool to help you prepare and make sure the destination is open to travelers.
State of Travel: Summer 2021
Travel has changed a lot in one year, right?
Thankfully, things are slowly going back to normal, and soon we should be able to move around without any restrictions.
While it’s exciting to have a summer where we can leave our homes, state, and country – we need to adopt some new habits to keep traveling safely.
What are your summer plans for 2021?