Have Cards, Will Travel

Why you should be making summer 2021 plans now

With vaccinations ramping up, summer 2021 will likely be a busy travel season


If you’re planning on taking a summer vacation, it might pay to start booking now. Just make sure you’re aware of your destination’s coronavirus policies.

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Spring fever has arrived, millions of people have been vaccinated, and this thought has probably crossed your mind: “Should I be planning my summer vacation now?”

For so many of us, the travel bug is really itching. And getting ahead of your summer plans isn’t a bad idea – especially if your vacation dreams include visiting National Parks or other popular domestic destinations that are likely to book up quickly this summer.

Or perhaps you’re more optimistic and dreaming about summer travel abroad. With more destinations opening up and some countries dropping mandatory quarantines for vaccinated travelers, this isn’t totally out of the question anymore. While you’ll want to proceed cautiously, there are deals to be had if you book before mainstream travel catches back up.

See related: I traveled to Hawaii. Here’s how to navigate their safe traveler program

Balancing your travel fever and COVID caution

According to this week’s Destination Analytics survey which measures how Americans are feeling about travel in the current circumstances of COVID-19, 48.9% of Americans agreed that current discounts and price cuts on airlines, hotels, car rentals and tours make them more interested in traveling within the next three months.

In fact, of those surveyed, more than 30.6% report that they are planning to take a trip in July. With this many Americans preparing a return to the road, we are likely to see this summer hit the highest numbers of daily travelers since early 2020.

While there is still a very large percentage of people still avoiding traveling far from home until they are reassured that the pandemic is fully past, it’s gearing up to be a busy summer – particularly for domestic destinations.

Increased demand in the coming months

As growing numbers of people feel comfortable traveling, demand for hotels, plane tickets, and excursions is increasing, but perhaps not as quickly as supply.

Depending on where you’re traveling, you may find that there are fewer flight options, hotels that are still not completely open, and capacity limits for the bucket-list attractions you’re hoping to do. Many places are opening up, but if there are only going to be so many tickets available, you want to make sure you book early enough to get the spaces you need.

You might be able to snag deals right now

Most people love getting travel deals – particularly those of us who love rewards and free travel.

While not all airline tickets are inexpensive right now, there are definitely deals to be had, and booking early is the best way to catch one.

For example, next week I’m headed back to Oahu for a very quiet ‘spring break’ on an American Airlines ticket I landed for under $300 back in January when Hawaii was still very quiet. This very same ticket was priced at $800 last week when Oahu lifted some of their travel restrictions. I was certainly glad I booked early.

For those looking abroad, you can certainly land some deeply discounted deals on flights to Europe for the spring and summer – like Miami to Madrid for $344 on TAP Air Portugal. But an airline being willing to sell you a ticket doesn’t guarantee that the world will be open by the time you fly.

If you do decide to book a trip outside of the U.S., be sure to use the time before your departure to stay up to date on any changes or requirements at your destination which could impact your travel plans. While case numbers may be down and vaccine numbers may be up where you live, other places are seeing increased infections and instituting new lockdowns. Plus testing and vaccine requirements are continuously changing. You’ll need to stay on top of it. Even the best priced bargain isn’t a good deal if you wind up in an unexpected vacation quarantine.

See related: Best credit cards for travel insurance

Risk-free with rewards 

If you’re booking with reward points, you’ll likely find more availability the earlier you make your plans.

Now that most airlines have suspended redeposit fees when you need to cancel an award ticket, you can book your trip early without risk – and without putting out any cash. The same goes for hotels. No matter if you’re booking with rewards or cash, most room rates allow you to cancel up to 24 hours in advance if you have to change your plans. Be sure that you know the rules for the rates you’re booking. 

If you’re not travel planning yet, you should still travel prep now

If you’re not ready to book travel yet, you can still spend time exercising your wanderlust and dreaming about where you want to go in a post-pandemic world. So now’s the time to work on your rewards strategy to get you there. If the world feels safe to you in July, preparing now will ensure you have the points you need to book a great summer getaway when you’re ready – even if it is last minute.

See related: Best travel credit cards

Bottom line

Summer will be here before you know it – and with the way things are going with vaccinations and destinations reopening, it’s likely going to be busy. Put those points to work or grab a deal if you can find one, and make your summer vacation plans today. Come July, you’ll be grateful you did.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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