In-Depth: COVID complicates summer travel plans

Uncertainty leads to frustration for travelers
Posted at 6:29 AM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 09:29:39-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - As people start making plans for summer vacations, uncertainty over pandemic-related rules and restrictions has many worried that any trip they book could be canceled.

"People are anxious to book," says Laila Matarwe, the owner of Five Star World Trave. "But then things have to be canceled because the protocols have changed."

Many countries still haven't opened their borders to foreign travelers. Others have rules in place for vaccination or quarantine requirements. Matarwe says it's been challenging to keep everything straight because it changes from month to month.

"You have to do your homework," she says. "It's made people gun-shy because they don't know. We're in a waiting game to see what will happen."

The US State Department posts a country-by-country list of COVID-related rules for travelers, as well as safety information tracking the spread of the virus abroad. But it's not much help for people booking a trip 6-8 months in the future.

Despite the uncertainty, Matarwe tells her clients to do four things to protect them against any pandemic-related changes.

First, she says to buy trip insurance but make sure it has a provision that covers cancellations because of the pandemic.

Second, don't book any services that aren't refundable. At the very least, make sure whatever you spend will be held as a credit for a future trip if you have to change your plans.

Third, look for booking options that will let you "hold" a trip at a specific price. Then you can pay when the time to travel isn't as far off, and you're more sure the vacation will take place.

Fourth, use a travel advisor who can help you navigate all of the rules and changes.

Aside from that, Matarwe says to try and plan travel to places that are already open. She advises people to wait if they want to visit a country where the borders are still closed.

"I want people to travel," says Matarwe. "I think people need to realize we're still in a pandemic. It hasn't passed us yet. So we're still dealing with fallout all over the world."