How to start thinking about travel planning now

Gary Leff is 7 years old. February 2021.

I make of the fully refundable , using points. However, I avoid transferring American Express and Chase points when I don’t need them, because while awards can be transferred to an airline frequent flyer account, points generally can’t be transferred back from an airline account to Amex or Chase. If you transfer Flexbank points, this will be at the expense of flexibility.

Domestic travel should be possible this summer, especially for those who have been vaccinated. Current vaccines appear to be less effective against the South African and Brazilian strains of Covid-19, which do not appear to be prevalent in that country – this is conditional on very little attention being paid to genomic surveillance in the US – and Pfizer and Moderna are working on recalls and reformulations.

International travel remains a question mark, at least for most destinations currently closed to Americans.

I have luxury trips booked to Australia to visit my family later this year, but I don’t know if I will be able to make them – maybe Australia won’t open its borders.

  • Countries that most often keep the virus at bay remain almost entirely at risk because their populations lack a basic level of immunity. They need to be kept closed for a longer period of time, as they are very susceptible to propagation.
  • Countries that do not vaccinate quickly also remain at risk.
  • Some will be open to those who have been vaccinated, although it is likely that vaccination will only reduce, not eliminate, the risk of spread. Vaccination and a negative test are common requirements in countries reopening their borders.

I would bet that things will be much better here in March than they were in February, that the virus will be at a very low level in the United States by the end of May or June. By that I mean a few thousand cases a day in the United States, not the six-figure cases a day we’ve seen in recent months. I hope we will have a more or less virus-free summer here and in Europe. What it looks like in the fall depends on vaccinations and virus mutations. (I think it’s with a 75% probability).

But I wouldn’t want to spend non-refundable money (or trust companies with money I’m not sure will stay in business and accept a refund) because there’s too much ambiguity. All my orders – to Europe, Asia and Australia – are on points. All my hotel rooms have been paid for with points or completely cancelled and booked directly.

There was too much uncertainty. No rebooking fee doesn’t help, but there is a break with travel credits and you certainly don’t want to be stuck with Norwegian vouchers. And airlines like Air Canada have proven too unreliable to buy tickets.

We have to do everything we can to defeat this virus. The FDA may want to prioritize youngsters for AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is already approved in the UK and Europe. There is a leased vaccine plant in Baltimore that we have to rely on to get American doses quickly. Travel will resume, but business will not fully return.

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