A look forward to post-pandemic travel in 2021

Finish your planning to be ready for post-pandemic travel in 2021

My task on this New Year’s Day is to finish a column on travels in the new year, while still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic.

My spouse and I spent several hours last night celebrating New Year’s Eve with three other couples, fellow travelers all, via Zoom. A portion of the call had each of us bemoaning our limited travel during 2020, and sharing hopes for destinations to come in 2021.

Hence, what are we hearing from experts as to travel in the coming 12 months? Most all agree, with the pandemic raging and some of the worst weeks to come, now is the time to plan future travels, not to actually do them. And, to satisfy your wanderlust, look to your back door for places that you can walk or bicycle to, or reach by short, self-contained and cautious auto trips, avoiding people and complying with local and state pandemic requirements.

When will we reach an end of this travel quarantine; or, when will vaccines allow us to resume life “as normal”? I’m not an infectious disease expert, but if you listen to varied expert sources, you’ll realize that most experts suggest something like 70% of the United States must be vaccinated before we reach the point of “herd immunity”. With initial slower-than-projected roll-out of vaccines, well probably be well into the second half of 2021 before the freedom to travel returns.

How to both dream about, and plan, those special destinations? Along those lines, spouse Susan and I are projecting any serious travel we will take into the second half of 2021, including a cross-country mid-summer trip (by our well provisioned personal vehicle carrying all the suggested Covid-fighting tools and taking the highest precautions) to visit our daughter, just moved to Tennessee, relatives in Ohio and friends in Minnesota, and returning with a housesitting gig in Denver in mid-August. Should we and a large percentage of the US remain un-vaccinated, we will postpone such a trip.

How far out should we be planning? I encourage families to finish their thinking and planning relatively soon – when US and international travel reaches relative safety, a huge pent-up demand will max out favorite destinations, resorts, campgrounds and the like. Hence, if you have a favorite destination, like New York during the Christmas season, a couple of national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton in the fall, or a European river cruise, book soon. Virtually all hotels motels and tour operators will refund most of your money should you have to cancel, as well as will online booking sites for lodging and camping in national parks, like recreation.gov or reserveamerica.com.

When will the “dam break“ and special destinations or trips be “sold out“? If, Indeed, the pace of vaccinations increases and we are able to vaccinate older Americans, our first line and healthcare workers, people with pre-existing medical conditions and the like, people will have confidence to quite quickly begin to book their latent travel plans. So, finish the planning, book your dream trip, cement those airline reservations and let your relatives know your plan.

Sunset photo from beach of The Sanctuary, Marina, CA (photo by Yvonne Derby).

What do we do in the meantime to salve our wanderlust? Look to local destinations where you can walk, hike or bike. Take short, carefully-planned and self-contained auto trips to lovely nearby destinations, avoiding crowds and personal contact. Ask friends who are frequent travelers as to their own secret, nearby gems. Friends and family offered a host of travel suggestions which I profiled in the last two weeks (see my travel blog for past features).

Yvonne and husband toast the sunset vibe in Marina, CA (photo by Yvonne Derby).

Former co-worker Yvonne Derby of Tracy shares one of her secrets, “I’ve lived in California all of my life and always loved the California coast; my husband and I discovered the little hotel called The Sanctuary in Marina, California, with rooms offering breathtaking views of the ocean and the most stunning of sunsets. The Sanctuary is worthy of your visit and it’s paid for in just the views, alone. It’s our go-to place for special occasions, secluded enough but also close to eateries and shops. With Seaside, Monterey and Pacific Grove just south, so much to see and do”.

Gather your ideas and those of your family, tap friends for insightful recommendations, accelerate your planning mode and begin to book key destinations. In the meantime, explore the wonderful world just outside your door; when the pandemic resides, then visit nearby attractions. Apply those universal pandemic precautions, await coming vaccines and act now for future travels. And, as always, consider local and destination pandemic travel regulations before departing.

Bike trail in Pacific Grove connects to Monterey and north to Marina, CA.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com, follow him at recordnet.com/travelblogStay, and travel, safe!

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