What to find out about reserving a trip proper now

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Travelers are booking trips again as restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic ease, said Christina Pedroni, senior vice president of Liberty Travel, which has offices in Boston.

“The cancellations and postponement of travel has started to slow down,” Pedroni said. “A lot of people are itching to get away.”

Clients are questioning where they can go, what they can do, and what the experience will be like once they get to their destination, Pedroni said, so it’s a great time to work with a travel agent whose job it is to stay on top of such information.

“We’re encouraging people to get back out there,” she said. “Cautiously and safely, of course.”

Ahead, Pedroni offered five tips for booking travel right now.

1. Stay on top of current travel restrictions.

First off, make sure you can, in fact, travel to the destination you desire, Pedroni said.

“We’re not in a place of six months ago where an American traveler can just pick up and pretty much go anywhere in the world,” Pedroni said. “There are still border restrictions in place. There are even some states within the United States that have restrictions on travelers from certain areas or quarantines in place.”

Tourism board websites for states and countries, such as gohawaii.com and visitflorida.com, are a “wealth of information,” she said.

“Each one of them has a COVID-19 section of their site where they will talk about the restrictions in place or what the experience will be like when you get there,” she said.

2. Make flexible plans.

Make sure you are clear on the cancellation policies of your flight, hotel, cruise line, etc., Pedroni said.

“If we see a second wave [of COVID-19], you don’t want to be tied into a nonrefundable travel purchase that you’re not going to be able to get out of,” she said.

It’s also important to understand the travel insurance you purchase, she said.

“If you’re purchasing a standard travel insurance package right now for travel, COVID-19 is already a known event,” Pedroni said. “So, typically, you wouldn’t be covered if you had to cancel because of COVID-19 being in the destination or you being sick from the virus.”

Look for policies that allow you to cancel for any reason or cancel at any time, she said, so you can get a portion of your money back if you had to cancel due to COVID-19.

3. Brush up on airline industry guidelines. 

The experience of flying has changed due to COVID-19.

“All of the main U.S. carriers are requiring masks, and they have introduced new health and safety protocols onboard their flights and at the airport,” Pedroni said.

Before heading to the airport, you’ll want to educate yourself about the new protocols and understand that everything from boarding procedures to food and beverage service has changed.

Travelers also need patience, since airlines are operating with reduced schedules. For example, you may be forced to book a connecting flight because there is no longer a nonstop option to your desired destination, she said.

“So understanding that getting from point A to point B may be a longer journey than it has been in the past because of reduced capacity,” she said.

4. Take advantage of the deals.

“There’s a lot of good offers out there,” Pedroni said. “It’s a good time to buy travel.”

Travel companies seeking to increase business are offering reduced prices, room upgrades, free nights, and resort credits right now, Pedroni said. Travelers looking to book all-inclusive vacations will find great deals to the Caribbean and Mexico, both popular destinations for Northeast travelers, she said.

“You just have to know what you’re looking for and know where you want to go,” Pedroni said. “And then compare the pricing.”

Travelers can snag great deals on flights as well, she said.

“I did some comparative shopping for myself the other day and I was seeing fares that were $200 and $300 less than I would typically see on the same route six months ago,” Pedroni said.

5. Book something, even if it’s for next year.

Pedroni said she’s encouraging travelers to forge ahead with summer trips because it’s “valuable time that we all need after this experience.”

“It may look different this year,” she said. “It may be closer to home. It may be a road trip when you’re used to going to Europe. But don’t throw your hands up and say, ‘This is impossible this year.’”

Travel is possible, she said.

“Do your research and make sure you’re looking after your own health and safety, and then get ready to enjoy your trip,” Pedroni said.

However, travel is a personal decision and it’s OK if you don’t feel comfortable traveling this year, she said.

“It’s just as fun to start planning for next year,” Pedroni said.

Pedroni said travelers who book future travel now can take advantage of added perks and flexibility.

“So it’s a good time to book, regardless if you’re traveling in 2020 or 2021,” Pedroni said.

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