When I tell my friends or coworkers I have vacation plans for 2021, 85% of the time, they look at me as though I told them I’m a martian. I can only imagine the thoughts going through their heads, mostly cumulating in, “Doesn’t she know there’s a pandemic on?”
Oh yes, loves. I know.
The pandemic is precisely why I keep planning travel. Well, okay – I would probably be doing this anyway, but I’m talking about it because it’s really important right now to support the things you love and travel is one of those things for me. In particular, the type of vacations I like are struggling. And I’ve heard many people say they are swearing off those types of vacations forever because of news around the pandemic. I’m here today to tell you why I’m taking the leap of faith and booking vacations into the future, and why I’m still booking the types of vacations I’m booking.
Why I’m Still booking future vacations
Right now, we have four trips booked, and we would book a fifth except reservations aren’t open yet. This takes us into spring of 2023, much further ahead than most people plan trips. I’ve always been a plan ahead sort, so having things coming up for the next couple years is fine for me.
Reason #1: The travel industry is suffering.
Unfortunately, when you’re talking about containing a virus, there are some businesses that really can’t adapt. Travel is one of them. As there was no federal regulation in the US for most wings of the travel industry, some companies carried on more or less as normal, others tried to find safe ways to proceed but failed, and others shut down altogether.
There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the management of COVID in the United States and while I have some strong opinions, I don’t want to get political here. Suffice it to say that in a mixture of safety concerns, new added costs of operation, and lack of federal regulation, all sectors of the travel industry are hurting. This is leading to cancelled plans, layoffs, and downsizing. I don’t want it to end with bankruptcy or closing the parks or selling the ships I love. Because of that, I’m doing my small part to plan trips for a later date when I’ll feel safer going.
Reason #2: I have a lot of spending credit.
When I got a call from Universal Studios last summer saying, “Hey, I saw you booked Halloween Horror nights… we’ve got some bad news….” I didn’t even ask for my money back – I asked to move the trip to 2021. Fortunately, my husband and I are lucky enough to still be employed and also, when we plan vacations, we plan ahead and pay in full, so that money was already out of our budget.
Besides Universal Studios, I also have travel credit for Delta Airlines, thanks to cancelled trips to both Orlando and South Carolina. Additionally, we had a large chunk of credit towards Norwegian Cruise Lines for cancelled flights and a Baltic cruise (which I am still salty about, though I know it’s not safe to travel). We knew we still wanted to travel with all these companies and would have planned future trips one way of the other, so we kept the credit and made new plans.
Reason #3: Many prices are lower than ever.
Going back to the cancelled Baltic trip… it very nearly led to our dream Australia / New Zealand trip we thought we could never afford. Before NCL cancelled all cruises in that area for 2021, we’d taken the credit for our 7-day cruise and turned it into a 12-day bucket list cruise… for the same price. Even after that was also cancelled, we’ve been able to convert the credit into a different bucket list cruise (Alaska, Sept. 2021) and another hopeful cruise (Mediterranean, April 2021) for the same price. Why? Because Norwegian has had some deals this year, and since we had this credit… we’ve been watching.
In fact, we went even further in the future and were able to capitalize on a deal for a Japan and South Korea cruise in 2023… which is a HUGE bucket list item for my husband and we’ll be able to extend that trip a little to include some exploration time in Tokyo and a trip to Tokyo Disneyland, which is a HUGE bucket list item for me.
Basically, because of all the enticing deals we’ve been seeing through our normal travel channels… we’re (hopefully) taking a couple trips that at other times would have cost us a lot more money, or may not have been achievable without a lot more sacrifice, if at all.
Don’t You Know Cruise Ships Are Petri Dishes?! Why Are You Still Cruising?!
Believe it or not, this is an argument I’ve had with many people long before coronavirus.
Like any enclosed space filled with a lot of people, yes, disease can travel on cruise ships, particularly if you’re not careful. Cruise ships are also the most hygienic way to travel. Even before COVID, the CDC has been highly involved in making sure cruises are safe – an involvement you don’t see in other places in the industry. Since COVID, even when the CDC was refusing to talk to these companies and give them regulations other than “NO”, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean went out and formed their own task force to research ways of assuring optimum safety on these ships.
Even though there was an outbreak that made the news, there wasn’t a whole lot more that SeaDream could have done to keep the passengers safe. Cruise vloggers “Cruise With Ben and David” who we like and trust were on board that ship, and even they admitted that they felt everything was handled well by the company and crew and they felt safe. All this tells me is that travel is unsafe and the virus uncontrollable despite rigorous precautions… not that cruising is the problem.
Travel during a pandemic, yes. Cruising specifically, no.
We hear so much about illness on cruise ships because they are the only form of travel that is required to report illness under federal regulation. It doesn’t mean it’s worse than other forms of travel… it simply means we have the information about illness on board, whereas when it comes to planes, trains, theme parks, etc., we simply have no idea.
Didn’t you hear that Disney has made MAJOR layoffs!? Why are you still supporting them (and other destination theme parks)?!
While, yes, I have some feelings about executive salaries and CEO bonuses at the cost of cutting workers further down the ladder… in a capitalist system, boycotting the companies isn’t going to help that. In fact, boycotting the parks and the companies is just going to make layoffs worse… because that’s where a lot of the layoffs are happening.
Frankly, if you want to help the laid off employees, you can check out the cast-member-started GoFundMe, or you can… book a trip to the parks. Unless park revenue goes up, these “cost-cutting measures” are going to continue. On top of that, further future improvements and renovations will be cancelled. While I think we’re still a long way off from Disney closing down any of its parks permanently, there are other things to consider in the meanwhile, and the workers are just one of them.
We’re crossing our fingers for a return to travel, and booked a couple extra days in Orlando to go to the Disney parks when we’re down there next year – it’s one of the ways we can support the workers, entice future improvements, and support the parks. Would it be nice if they slashed executive salaries again to keep more of their ground workers on board? Yes. But I don’t see that happening, and I don’t see a boycott helping matters.
As far as supporting Universal Studios (which supports JK Rowling) goes, I wrote about that already in my Farewell to Hogwarts post.
So as you can see, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about travel – where I want to go, where I want to put my money, and why it matters. We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the companies and making choices… and we’ve decided to stand by our favorite vacation spots and support them. Even though we can’t travel right now (and may not be able to for several more months), we want to visit these places in the future and want to encourage them to continue growth and maintain employees.
I know that not everyone has the luxury of travel, and I know there are a lot of aspects of the travel industry that are deeply flawed (for one, travel is terrible for the environment). It is, however, one of the things I’ve missed the most over the last 14 months, and I’m eager to get back to adventuring! And I don’t mind planning deep into the future to do it.
Where are you planning your next vacation? Has COVID made you rethink some of your favorite destinations or locations to travel to? Tell me all about your wanderlust in the comments!