Why It’s Smart To Book Your Late 2021 Travel Now

Cheerful young couple sitting on a boat.
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The coronavirus vaccine rollout is picking up speed, and President Joe Biden recently said that 90% of American adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by April 19. Given his projection, it will likely be safe to travel come the fall and winter — so should you book your travel for the latter half of the year now? Here’s why some travel experts say you should.

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Airfares Are Relatively Low Now — But They May Not Be in a Few Months

Airfares are not as low as they were just a few weeks ago, but it’s possible to still get some good deals.

“While discounts can still be found, they’re no longer falling into consumers’ laps,” Jamie Baker, JP Morgan airline analyst, told CNBC. “Discounted fares increasingly require a hunt.”

That means that if you do find a good flight deal for later in the year, you should book it now.

“Because of flexible airline cancellation policies, it’s better to book now and think later regarding 2021 trips,” said Alex Miller, founder and CEO of the travel site UpgradedPoints.com. “As the vaccine is rolled out more and travel becomes more widely accepted, we are likely to see fares increase as demand increases.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Even if you book a flight that’s less-than-ideal, you’ll likely be able to change it as your travel date gets closer.

Read: How To Keep Your Financial Planning on Track in 2021

“With increases in demand, we’ll also see increases in the amount of planes in the sky and new routes as well,” Miller said. “Booking early allows you to take advantage of airline schedule changes, which inevitably happen this far in advance. When this happens, you’re able to ask your airline to put you on more desirable flights. Even if you book something now that doesn’t quite fit your schedule or desired routing, you’re likely to experience an airline-initiated schedule change which will allow you to move to something better.”

Cruise Prices Are Also Likely To Surge in the Latter Half of the Year

“I expect cruise prices to be considerably higher for travel in the second half of 2021,” said Tanner Callais, founder and editor of Cruzely.com, a website about everything cruising. “If someone knows they will want to cruise, then now is the time to book in my opinion.”

If you book now and your cruise ends up being canceled, you shouldn’t have any issue rebooking for a later date.

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“The best news is that cruise lines have offered refunds to passengers with canceled cruises, often at 125% if they simply rebook another cruise,” he said. “So even if you book and cruises aren’t back yet, you’ll still get your money back.”

You Can Save Big on Hotels Too, But Pay Attention To the Cancellation Policy

Hotel demand is also likely to increase as the year progresses — which means prices are likely to increase, too — so if you see a great deal now you should hop on it. Just double-check that your deposit is fully refundable if you cancel within a certain timeframe.

“If you can score a great hotel at a good rate with a 100% refund policy, go for it,” said Matthew Meier, founder of MaxTour, which leads small group tours in Las Vegas. “You can always cancel if you find a better deal or plans change.”

Make Your Money Work for You

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As a general rule of thumb — even in non-pandemic times — you’ll get better hotel deals the earlier you book.

“I’m always a big proponent of booking early,” said Victoria Heinz, a travel blogger and founder of GuideYourTravel.com. “I’ve managed to snag some of the best deals booking at least six months in advance.”

Travel Packages for Later in the Year Are Already Booking Up

If you’re looking to book a small tour, yacht trip or other excursion, you may not be able to book your trip for this year if you wait too long. Andre Robles, managing director of Voyagers Travel Company, which specializes in tours of the Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands, said that many late 2021 dates for excursions are already booked up.

“Many of the bookings we had in 2020 postponed for the second half of 2021, therefore many yachts that offer live-aboard cruises in the Galapagos Islands are already fully booked for the summer and autumn season,” he said. “We have started to get new requests for trips to the Galapagos Islands for 2022.”

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Suzanne Bratton, content coordinator at TripShock, an online travel agency, recommends booking small group tours for the latter half of the year ASAP.

“One of the biggest travel trends of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 is choosing small group or private excursions,” she said. “With so many people choosing these tour types over the traditional large group outings, availability is scarce. In order to create the safest and most spectacular vacation in 2021, it is highly recommended to book tours and activities in advance, as this will guarantee availability for you and your group.”

It’s Good To Have Something To Look Forward To

In addition to saving money and ensuring your dream vacation isn’t booked up by the time you feel safe to travel, booking a trip now can also be good for your mental health.

“Many travelers are happier during the planning and anticipation stages of their trip than after they return,” said Alex Ziselman, an expert travel advisor with A2Z Travel LLC.

And after a very rough few months, we could all use a little mental health boost.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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