“Is it too early to book my 2021 summer holiday?”

Will summer holidays be on the cards for 2021? And what risks are involved with booking now? We asked travel experts for their advice.

With the vaccine rollout underway and hope that the pandemic might be over by next Christmas on the rise, many people will want to start thinking about their plans for the year ahead – including if and when they can go on holiday.

While some of us may have been lucky enough to get away in 2020, for the majority of us, travelling anywhere – let alone outside the UK – just wasn’t a possibility. But with things beginning to look up, can we begin to dream about a week away in summer 2021?

According to travel search engine KAYAK, many of us are already doing just that. In a recent survey, 67% of respondents said they were planning to travel internationally next year, with 40% saying they planned to book a trip in the next six months. 

But is it safe to book now? And how likely is it that things will be getting back to normal by next summer? 

To find out more about the risks involved in booking a holiday right now – and what might happen between now and summer 2021 – we spoke to two travel experts to get their advice. Here’s what they had to say. 

What risks are involved with booking a holiday abroad in summer 2021?

“While there is optimism in the air, there are some elements of travel that seem to be playing on people’s minds,” explains Kate Hopcraft, EMEA director of public relations at KAYAK. “In our survey, the number one concern travellers highlighted for 2021 is that restrictions will change in the destination they are planning to visit (43%), followed by the worry they will lose money if their travel is cancelled at the last minute (16%).”

Although the situation will likely improve as more people get vaccinated, it seems these are still very valid concerns – especially when we’re facing a possible third lockdown should cases rise after Christmas.

“It’s important to remember that while the Covid-19 vaccine will hopefully be rolled out far and wide next year, our way of life over the next few months is still subject to change,” says Helen Chambers, head of travel insurance at MoneySuperMarket.

“Currently the FCDO advises against all but essential travel with only a handful of destinations available to Brits without quarantine restrictions being in place either on arrival or return. As we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic next year, it’s important to have adequate policy coverage for any trip to make sure you are protected should Government guidance change.

“Also make sure you are clear on the cover each policy offers in term of Covid cover. MoneySuperMarket has ensured all policies shown on its website offer medical and repatriation cover for anyone impacted by Covid-19 while travelling, with over 50 per cent of its partners providing more enhanced levels of cover. However, you should always read the full Ts and Cs of a policy before committing to a purchase, so you are clear on what is included.”

Alongside navigating the everchanging rules associated with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s also important to consider the impact that Brexit may have on your travel plans next year if you intend to go on holiday to an EU country – especially when it comes to travel insurance.

Chambers explains: “If Britain leaves the EU with ‘no deal’, Brits will no longer be offered cover under the EHIC scheme – protection that some people have previously relied on for any medical costs. If there is no reciprocal agreement in place with our European neighbours, it will be more important than ever to get cover.

“Moving out of the EHIC scheme will likely bring with it a double-digit growth in travel insurance premiums in 2021. However, if customers were to purchase an annual policy before the Brexit deadline of 31 December, there is a good chance they will make a saving vs purchasing a policy in the new year.”

If we decide to book, how can we mitigate some of the risks?

It’s clear that there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to booking a holiday in summer 2021, and all travel plans will remain subject to change as countries across the world navigate the coronavirus pandemic. However, if you decide to book a trip, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your plans against some of the changes.

“To help ease some of the concern people are feeling, KAYAK has a range of tools to help people find a flight with a level of peace of mind,” says Hopcraft. “These include a flexible filter that enables travellers to sort flight search results by those providers offering free cancellations or waiving change fees, and a travel restrictions map that displays the current status for each country enabling users to quickly navigate and grasp what restrictions are applied to the destination.”

For those people looking to insure themselves and their trip, Chambers recommends checking the fine print to ensure you’re completely covered and checking the latest government guidance to ensure your insurance is still valid before you travel.

“Policies vary by provider and type, so it’s important you are familiar with and understand what your policy covers,” she says. “Some annual policies may not cover travel during the coronavirus pandemic so it’s important to speak with your provider before booking your trip.”

She continues: “As advice and the tier system changes, it’s important to continue following Government guidance on keeping safe as well as travel advice both in the UK and internationally. Government guidance at the point of travel may be subject to change and this can impact the amount of cover your policy offers.

“It’s important to take out a comprehensive policy at the time of booking to ensure you are covered against any cancellations or unexpected changes.”

Images: Getty

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