How it’s changed and what’s ahead
As vaccination rates increase and lockdown restrictions start to be removed here in Canada, the U.S. and some parts of the world, Canadians are giving serious thought to future travel plans. But after a year in which the travel and hospitality industry has seen billions in lost revenue, the landscape looks much different as travellers slowly return.
Before you plan your next vacation, consider the following factors that may shape your travel (and financial) decisions.
Quarantine and testing costs
Even if you present a negative test or are vaccinated, some destinations may require you to quarantine or provide additional testing results. Requirements may change frequently. Quarantine and testing costs are your own responsibility and depending on the size of your group, these additional requirements can put a dent in your wallet – and the length of your trip. Consider making the quarantine period part of your holiday; some luxury hotel chains and resorts offer luxury quarantine packages.
Watch out for sticker shock
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, rental car companies began selling off large portions of their inventory due to lack of demand. As travel begins to rebound, be prepared for long lines, higher prices or in some cases, no availability at all. While many airlines are currently offering low rates to lure back customers, the industry will be looking to recoup those losses through higher prices as demand increases. Prices for both flights and hotels will increase quickly so be sure to book well in advance if possible.
Travellers are now looking for security, flexibility and the assurance that bookings will be protected if policies or restrictions change. Most suppliers currently include a greater degree of flexibility as part of their revised terms & conditions, and some even include COVID-19 coverage. There are limitations, so be sure to do some research to find the right plan for your needs.
If you’re considering life insurance as part of your financial plan, note that carriers will typically ask if you have plans to travel. If the answer is ‘yes’, in many cases the carrier will apply an exclusion to the policy for travel to destinations where the Canadian government has recommended against non-essential travel.
As David Rubin, Vice President, Insurance Operations at Richardson Wealth explains, “because current labelling basically has the entire world classified under ‘non-essential travel’ due to Covid, if you take a road trip to Buffalo NY for example, and were to die there, the policy might not pay out. And even if someone were to die from a car accident or something else entirely non-related to Covid, the policy still might not pay out.”
The future of luxury travel – a bespoke experience
Luxury travel will be different after COVID-19. Qualities that used to define luxury travel (in-person, hands-on customer service), are being replaced by needs like space, privacy and personalization in a post-pandemic world.
Here’s a look at some other emerging trends shaping travel in 2021 and beyond.
So many of us have missed seeing our families and gathering in person to celebrate significant events like birthday, anniversaries and graduations. Vacationing with extended family in a luxury villa for example, is becoming a popular way for loved ones to reconnect – and a smart way to travel safely.
After a year of social distancing, people understandably are reticent to be in or near large crowds.
“Whether this means chartering a plane, booking a private bubble family tour, renting a resort, villa, RV or boat, we’re seeing a lot of demand for private travel experiences that help families feel safe” says Tanja Steinbock, owner of Barret & Carlysle Travel. “It’s also a great way to handcraft your travel experience and have the freedom to choose your destination, activities and schedule.”
Uptake in staycations
Easing into local adventures and destinations can be less daunting for many people – and there’s the added bonus of helping revive our local economy. Road trips, renting RVs, cross-country train trips or houseboat rentals are seeing increased popularity.
Blending leisure and productivity, a ‘workcation’ allows for a change of scenery and may allow you to travel for a longer period than you might be able to with a traditional vacation. Some major hotel chains offer remote work packages that offer standard amenities with additional perks like private cooking classes, a dedicated concierge and curated experiences.
Bucket list boom
Tour companies and cruise lines are seeing a wave of wanderlust translate into increased demand for long-term, exclusive and hard-to-reach places – with a shortened timeline for booking.
Although it will take some time, travel experts agree that the industry will bounce back – after all, it has faced tough challenges before. And for luxury travellers, though it will likely end up costing you more, it might even be a lot more enjoyable.