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2021 Is Unlikely To Be An Exciting Travel Year For Me (But That’s Ok)

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Under normal conditions (remember them?) and by this stage of the year, I’d usually have a variety of trips booked for next year with plans to travel to counties that I’ve been wanting to visit for years and with at least a couple of Qatar Airways Business Class flights to look forward to. Not this year.

2021 should have seen me finally getting to visit Angkor Wat, traveling to Osaka to see one of Japan’s most historic cities, enjoying a return to Sydney with Joanna, and possibly even squeezing in my first trip to Cape Town but, as things stand, the only trips I have booked are ones to get me between my homes in the UK and the US.

That’s not a complaint. That’s just a statement of how things are right now.

The truth is that I’d love to plan and book all the wonderful trips that I’ve thought through in my head (more times than I care to admit), but there’s simply too much uncertainty in the world right now to allow me to make sensible and informed decisions.

I’m not overly concerned about contracting Covid-19 as I’m probably healthy enough to shake it off, and I know that if I was to travel, I’d always make sure that I had a clear test before I returned home to make sure that I wasn’t asymptomatic and unwittingly spreading the virus. So it not any uncertainly about my health that’s stopping me in my tracks. It’s the uncertainly surrounding what various countries around the world may or may not do in 2021 that’s making me hold off from making any bookings.

Neither the United Kingdom nor the United States is likely to stop me from traveling in 2021 but I have no idea how other counties may react to changing conditions. Right now some of the countries I’d like to visit would welcome me with open arms while others would like me to stay away, but that’s unlikely to remain the case throughout the whole of next year and that makes planning very tricky indeed.

I cannot assume that a country that’s open to me now will be open to me when it comes time for me to travel (especially if it’s a country that’s likely to be low on the list to get their hands on a vaccine), and while I can speculate how long it will be before countries like Australia reopen to international travelers, speculation isn’t really what I need right now. I need a little bit more certainty. You only have to look at how suddenly the Singapore – Hong Kong travel bubble burst to see how quickly a situation can change.

A key problem now is that while towards the beginning of the pandemic airlines were quick to cancel routes when a country was put into lock-down (and therefore had to offer full refunds), they’re now flying such limited schedules that they’re often happy to keep a route open even if it turns out that only a few people can fly. They keep the route open for the purposes of transporting cargo as well as a few nationals/residents and, because the flights aren’t cancelled, the best a customer (who cannot travel) can hope for is a voucher for future travel…and I don’t need any more vouchers! 🙂

On top of all this, there’s another thing to consider. What would happen if a nation closed its borders while I was still in the country? There are still people in Australia, New Zealand, Ghana, and a host of other countries who have been trying to get home for months and as much as I love Southeast Asian cuisine, and as much as I love hiking in the suburbs of Sydney, I’m not sure I’d be overly happy finding myself very suddenly locked down in Cambodia or Australia and not knowing when I’d be able to leave.

All in all, I know that 2021 is almost certainly going to be a better year for travel than 2020 (could it get any worse?), but as much as I’d love to get back to visiting amazing places and experiencing new things, there are still simply too many unknowns and too many things that could go wrong to tempt me into making any plans that don’t just involve transatlantic travel.

While 2020 was almost a total write-off as far as my travel plans were concerned (although I did finally get to visit Vietnam), I think 2021 will be more about easing myself back into travel rather than a return to how things were before Covid became a household name. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m definitely looking forward to a time when something other than a rampaging virus is what’s determining my travel plans.

How are you approaching travel in 2021? 

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  1. IMHO 2021 will be much better. If you have the vaccine (I expect to have it by March/April at latest) and can present negative tests (expect much more readily available testing) I don’t think travel will be an issue. Have a trip booked to Lisbon in late April and Germany in September both of which I feel good about.

    I also have 8 – 10 domestic trips scheduled in Jan-May (mainly gambling or golf trips).

    Not letting COVID slow me down

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