Surprising (and Exciting!) News From the Travel Industry
Updated: April 19, 2023
COVID-19 has done a number on the travel industry.
According to AAA, air travel is down 75 percent. Rail and cruise travel is down 85 percent. I know that sounds very doom and gloom, but there’s optimistic news coming out of the travel industry: Bookings for 2021 are through the roof. Yes, you read that right.
Travelers are chomping at the bit to get out and see the world. There’s a pent-up demand to leave the confinement of our homes and venture to a new (or long-time favorite) destination. People like us are not only dreaming of their next trip, but they are actively planning it. Now that is optimistic news!
For those of you looking to travel in 2021, I have some very important insight for you. Read on to learn more.
AAA Travel, AmaWaterways and Rocky Mountaineer are all sponsors of “Places to Love,” but opinions are all my own.
Courtesy of AmaWaterways
Heart set on a specialty tour? Book now.
You might think with cruising down so much for 2020, availability will not be a problem in the coming year. Not necessarily. Case in point? River cruising. With significantly smaller boats (think 100-150 passengers versus 3,000-6,000 passengers on an ocean liner), river cruising is looking better than ever. Everything from dining to excursions is much more intimate. This is especially true with European river cruises, like AmaWaterways, which have been gaining a lot of popularity. I took my first river cruise with them down the Rhine a few years ago, and it captured my heart. You only have to unpack once! And getting from A to B is an absolute delight. Imagine drinking a glass of wine on your own private balcony while soaking up the vistas of the Rhine River Valley. It’s an awesome way to travel, but space is limited. If you want to secure your spot for 2021, book it soon.
Another trip that’s worth mentioning? Alaska. The 2020 Alaskan cruise season (it’s short—typically May to September) was essentially cancelled. Many of this year’s trips have now been rebooked for 2021—which means Alaskan cruises for next year are almost sold out. If you’ve been thinking of an Alaskan cruise for 2021 (or even 2022!), get on it! You may still score excellent pricing, but they can only sell what they have—so move fast and avoid the heartbreak.
It’s worth mentioning that rail trips are booking quickly as well. I had to reschedule my journey through the Canadian Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer this summer. I was so looking forward to it, and cancelling broke my heart! I am feeling grateful that the team at AAA mentioned the low availability to me now, while there’s still space.
Celebrity Cruises/Quentin Bacon
Book with confidence.
There are a lot of people sitting on credit from a cancelled cruise or vacation, and the nightly news is full of disheartening information. Waiting on the sidelines while you figure out when, where and how you will rebook a cancelled vacation seems like the prudent thing to do. However, if you really do hope to rebook something within the next year, I suggest doing it now.
I know a lot of people worry if they book too far in advance, they may have second thoughts or regrets as their travel date approaches. Well, I’ve got great news for you: Most cruise lines and tour operators have created a “book with confidence” guarantee, greatly adjusting their cancellation policies. In fact, many lines are offering cancellations as late as 48 hours prior to departure. The details depend on the company, but guests who cancel may get credit toward another trip to be used within 1-2 years, or they may even receive a full refund.
By rebooking that dream trip now, what do you have to lose? You can cancel up until the last minute with minimal impact.
Samantha Brown Media
Use an agent.
You can book everything yourself online. But right now, wouldn’t it be nice to have an expert to fall back on? My head is swirling when it comes to keeping track of travel restrictions, local restrictions, cancellations and more. AAA Travel does sponsor my show, “Places to Love,” but regardless of that, I am so impressed at their customer service during COVID-19. When most online travel companies required customers to rebook trips and learn about cancellation policies and more themselves, AAA made it a point to have a travel advisor reach out personally—whether by phone or email—to each and every person who booked with them. They handled all the details, from rebooking vacations to figuring out refunds, and saved customers so much money, frustration and time (3-hour wait times on a customer service line? No thank you!).
In this ever-changing world, it’s nice to know someone has your back. These folks are up to date on the latest health and safety restrictions, have access to the absolute best deals and will support you both before and DURING your trip. And did you know that working with a AAA Travel Agent is free for AAA members? That’s right: That little card that gives you roadside assistance also means planning your next trip is easier than ever.
Start Your Next Vacation with AAA
AAA Travel provides peace of mind when you travel—before, during and after your vacation! Members enjoy the advantages of membership including exclusive benefits, savings, map routing and travel planning, plus additional travel needs such as AAA Travel Guides, TourBook® guides, passport photos, International Driving Permits and travel insurance. Your next vacation starts with AAA—your complete travel solution. Visit AAA.com/Travel.“Samantha Brown's Places to Love” on PBS takes viewers on a discovery of the emotional heart of travel by highlighting the people who are changing, challenging and strengthening a destination to deliver a decidedly refreshing and enriching travel experience. Learn more .