It’s less of a question I get, more of a challenge. My job (or at least the last 18 months) is to advise people on the latest travel rules and whether it makes sense to go or book a vacation – especially after the restrictions change, as they see fit. have done this week.
This is all well and well intentioned, but whether it’s family and friends or the Six O’Clock News, the conversation always ends the same – I’ve been asked if I put my money where I say: do I plan to go on vacation?
I’ll answer that – but first some bad news.
I am asked this question because people want to be reassured. Right now, however, no one can assure you that a vacation will take place, although a lot of people will try.
CEOs of some vacation companies and airlines are rarely off the air to tell people now is a great time to book – that the future is in rainbows, buttercups and trails. condensation. But if scientists can’t tell us when the pandemic will end, then I wouldn’t turn to Ryanair or easyJet for my epidemiological forecast.
It doesn’t matter if your reservation is next month or next summer, the trip can be canceled. Last week travelers to South Africa were stranded, France and Portugal added more stringent testing requirements, and Morocco and Japan simply banned everyone. I could go on, but you get the unfortunate picture.
First ask yourself: am I flexible?
But once you get comfortable that your vacation plans can’t be frozen, things get easier. Say Spain is closing and your vacation cannot continue; would you be happy to trade for Croatia? If restrictions in March keep you from flying, could you drop by in September?
If your answer is no, my advice is not to book. You’ll spend the months leading up to the holidays in a state of worry, sweating every time there’s a government press conference at 4 p.m.
But if you are not disturbed, you have nothing to lose. Because if you can be flexible, so will your vacation business. The best will go out of their way to make sure you get your money back or move your vacation if need be, whether it’s because of the redlist, curfews, or you don’t feel comfortable leaving. due to the health situation.
Booking through a travel agent can take some of the drama out of the events. Last minute rule changes are extremely stressful before the holidays. A good travel agent can help decipher them and bring some calm.
All great advice, but I know what you want to know, and the answer is, I have nothing booked. But it’s not because of Omicron. The best vacation deals are available at the very last minute so I usually book just a week before the trip as I don’t mind where I go. Booking at the eleventh hour is useful at this time, as you can book under the restrictions.
So it’s Hawaii in 2022. Or not, if the fires don’t turn in my favor. Maybe Hvar. Or not, if Croatia’s abysmal vaccination rate means restrictions are being reintroduced. Maybe nothing will come off. But would I book a vacation? Yes, with a good travel agent who will give me my money back so I can book a tent in Kent again instead if need be.
Rory Boland is Travel Editor at Which?