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I get asked a wide variety of travel-related questions every day but the one question that I’m getting asked more than any other right now surrounds my plans for future international travel. A lot of people seem to be happy to travel domestically but most also seem to be reluctant to travel long-haul and, frankly, it’s not hard to see why.
For those of you who’d rather not read too much further, I’ll answer the headline question right now. No. I’m not really booking long-haul international travel right now. At least, not the kind of travel that people are talking about when they ask me about my plans.
Yes, I’m still booking trips for travel between Los Angeles and London, but that’s just me traveling between two homes so my experience at my destination will always be noticeably different from the experience of someone traveling on vacation.
Also, Biden is unlikely to stop me from returning home to Los Angeles and Johnson appears to be more concerned with utter nonsense than he is from preventing me from returning to the UK or adding the United States to the UK’s “red list”, so the risks that I run by traveling between LA and London are far lower than the risks that most people face when they travel away from home.
What I’m not doing right now is booking any kind of long-haul travel that doesn’t see me flying between the US and the UK so, effectively, I’m not booking the kind of trips that people are asking me about.
This doesn’t have anything to do with fears surrounding various coronavirus variants – I’m fully vaccinated, I’m reasonably healthy, I’m not in a high-risk category, and I have good insurance – nor does it have anything to do with concerns about having to wear a mask for a considerable amount of time – I’ve taken multiple 10+ hour flights in the past year and the mask thing doesn’t bother me.
What’s stopping me from booking the types of trips that I would normally be booking right now are the constantly changing rules that govern some of the countries that I’d like to visit and the mixed messaging that a lot of governments are indulging in.
Take Southeast Asia as an example. Outside of a global pandemic and by this time of the year, I’d almost certainly have at least two trips booked to places like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Singapore but I haven’t so much as looked at prices for travel to Asia since the end of 2020. There’s no point.
I have no interest in visiting China, Japan is off-limits, most countries in Southeast Asia don’t seem to have any idea when any kind of “normality” will be returning, and some counties in the region have had more abortive attempts to reopen their borders than they’ve had military dictatorships. That kind of uncertainty is not what I’m looking for.
Planning a trip to most parts of Africa seems a little pointless given the minimal vaccine rollout that most of the continent has seen, South America appears to be considered a high-risk zone by most countries that are actually following the science of the pandemic so I feel duty-bound to avoid the region (the US has no issue with travel to/from most countries in South America and that tells you all that you need to know about how closely the US is following the science of the pandemic), and while I’m at liberty to visit most (all?) countries in Europe, the uncertain flight schedules (due to the ever-changing entry rules) aren’t encouraging me to book any trips.
For most of 2020, I was happy to make the most of the liberal cancellation policies that a lot of airlines put in place and I booked a number of great-looking trips to all parts of the world. Gradually, one by one most of those flights got cancelled or moved to dates that didn’t work for me and I either had to accept refunds or reschedule the flights for another time. Then the rescheduled flights got cancelled or moved and the whole process started again.
Frankly, I’m now at a stage where I’m tired and bored of having to spend inordinate amounts of time dealing with rebookings and cancellations (yes, I know that it’s my own fault) so I’d rather not make plans that have a high chance of not coming to fruition. Believe it or not, I have better things to do with my time 🙂
The fact is that when people ask me if I’m booking any long-haul trips right now they’re essentially asking if I think that *they* should be making plans for long-haul vacations and the truth is that I’m not the right person to answer that question.
If you’re wondering whether you should book long-haul travel right now the only person that can give you an informed and honest answer is you.
Whether you should be planning long-haul trips right now probably comes down to your health, your vaccination status, your expectations for what life will be like at your destination, and how open you are to having your plans changed for you by your destination’s government or the airline that you’re choosing to fly.
No one knows your status, your expectations, or your feelings better than you so you probably shouldn’t look further than yourself for an answer to whether you should be booking trips or not.
As for me, I’ll continue to watch with interest as things develop over the coming months but I have no plans to book any new long-haul trips any time soon and if I do happen to suddenly book a trip, it will be for close-in travel when the chances of my plans being ruined are low – I don’t need any more vouchers or refunds! 🙂
Are you booking long-haul travel right now?