Ladies & Gentlemen – Start Your Engines

I am sure that like me, you used to find travel planning a bit complicated. Researching destinations, checking airfares and hotel accommodations and prices, creating a travel calendar to ensure that the myriad of reservations you make are indeed for the correct days, applying for visas, and more. And all that (and much more really) is before the big day when you double check to make sure that you have your passport, your drivers license, your meds, your charging cables…..and on and on. Well, I hate to break it to you, but COVID is going to add a few things to your travel to do list.

On the encouraging news front, just a few days ago European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that “All 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA”, which is the European Medicines Agency. That means soon, with proof of an EMA approved vaccine, you’ll be able to travel to Europe. No one seems to be quite sure though what type of proof you will have to provide. And that’s just one of the many new things we’ll all have to consider in the near future for certain, and quite possibly for many years to come.

The reopening of travel comes with a big helping of “buyer beware” for travelers. And with a future so full of unknowns, airlines, hotels, cruise lines, rental car companies and more, are all flying by the seat of their pants. As such, if you’d like to travel any time in the next year, we strongly advise that you get busy planning and be flexible. Also, if you had a trip canceled and are sitting on airline, tour, or cruise credits, you need to stay on top of your travel provider and their plans to take care of folks like you.

Following are a few items of note that we’ve found in our perusing of the travel news over the last few months.

• Flight credits for canceled trips most likely came with a 12-month expiration date. As of now airlines are willing to extend those credits, but you may have to take action to make sure they don’t expire.

• Car rental prices are going through the roof. Last year, to cut costs, rental companies sold off significant portions of their fleets. This is leading to a profound shortage of available cars. The conventional wisdom seems to be to book early and pay in advance. For the very best in car rental advice, and for competitive rates, call Gemut Car Rentals at 800.521.6722 or go to Gemut.com. Full disclosure, this is part of the family biz.

• As noted above, proof of vaccination will be necessary to travel to Europe. While no one knows how the logistics will work, it seems inevitable that you’ll soon be adding a vaccine passport to your stable of required travel documents.

• If you’d like to base your destination choices on vaccine distribution, here’s data detailing the rollouts in Europe and South America.

COVID has undoubtedly made travel a bit trickier and you’ll have some work to do to stay on top of the rules and regulations to be sure to avoid any unexpected twists and turns. On the good side the Department of Homeland Security has pushed back the start date of its Real ID program to May 3, 2023. So that’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about. And although there are likely some bumps in the road ahead, it looks like we’re finally going in the right direction.