Ambergris Caye, Belize

With vaccines rolling out, one thing is clear: We are ready to travel again. For many of us (our staff included), taking a year-plus off traveling has left us with seriously pent-up wanderlust. And that has resulted in what we’ve now determined to be planning paralysis. We sit at our laptops, dreaming of a destination, and are overwhelmed with finding the perfect place for our first post-pandemic trip. We’re all asking ourselves: Where do we go? How do we get there? And where do we even begin? 

We want to offer our readers a guide to dipping their toes back into the world of travel – a roadmap on where to start when you feel comfortable enough to venture out again. Here are six steps to take when planning your first post-pandemic vacation.

1. What Kind of Travel Do You Want To Do? 

There are a handful of styles of travel, so decide what you feel most comfortable doing at this time. A few options:

Reunion Travel: So many of us have not seen our friends and family in over a year. This means that reunion travel will be first on your list. If you’ve determined (with guidance from the CDC guidelines) that it’s safe to see family and friends again, make this type of travel a priority and plan accordingly. This could mean staying with your loved ones or renting a villa or separate rooms at a sprawling resort. 

Toe-Dip Travel: Maybe you’ve not been out of your house in what feels like a million years, and want to start somewhere that feels manageable – but memorable. Enter, toe-dip travel. We suggest starting with a simple weekend getaway or even a one-night staycation. 

Bucket List Travel: The last year taught us that traveling with your loved ones (or even solo) is a privilege – and something we love. Because of this, we’re not waiting a decade-plus to take our bucket-list trips. We have not only a new appreciation for travel, but for life, and plan to make the very most of it. Bucket list travel requires more planning than a weekend getaway, so now is the time to choose your trip and start making deposits. We suggest choosing tour operators or hotels and airlines that offer flexible changes – many of them do right now. For example, Great Value Vacations offers a plan to cancel or change without fees. NCL cruise line has a "peace of mind" booking plan and Oceania has a generous refund policy.

2. Will There Be Travel Requirements or Restrictions?

Last year introduced us to travel requirements and restrictions in response to the pandemic. Ultimately, these new protocols ensure that we’re all able to enjoy travel safely again. Before choosing a destination, ask yourself the following questions (and find answers on the CDC website here):

  • What destinations are open to visitors? 
  • Will a vaccine be required for your trip? 
  • Will you be required to take a pre- or post-travel COVID test? 
  • Will a quarantine be required and are you able to comply? 

3. What’s Your Budget? 

How much do you plan to spend on your first post-pandemic trip? This number will determine where you go and how you get there. But not to worry: The best vacations don’t need to be insanely expensive. Currently, there are some incredible savings to be had in order to help boost the travel economy. From spa packages to super-low airfare, now is the time to score a deal. If you’re looking to save even more, consider seasonality and traveling in the off-season. And if you’re looking to splash out, luxury can even be had for less. 

4. Where Do You Want to Go? 

Next, determine your destination. This might be the most difficult decision to make. Most of us have a list of places we’re hoping to visit, and now is the best time to dig into your wish list, and see what fits the bill. To decide on your destination, ask yourself:

  • How much time are you planning to allot to this vacation? 
  • Can you work remotely while traveling? 
  • Where do you most want to go, and can you safely travel there now? 
  • How will you get there? 

Additionally, are you more comfortable with a non-stop flight or prefer a drive trip? Maybe it’s a combination of both? The president of our company is planning to someday visit family in Germany and then planning a drive trip through Europe (equal parts reunion trip and toe-tip travel). 

5. What Sort of Accommodations Are You Looking For?  

Once you’ve narrowed down your destination, it’s time to decide what type of accommodations you’ll need. Are you planning a big family reunion and need to book a large home? Or maybe you’ve really missed the luxury hotel experience and are ready to check in again. Maybe you’re ready to get back on a cruise ship and set sail. From rental properties to resorts to RV rentals, choosing where you’ll stay is part of the fun. And, again, with such flexible new policies, it’s comforting to know that you can always reschedule your trip if needed. 

6. Finally, What Do You Plan to Do? 

It’s perfectly okay to lounge around and do absolutely nothing; it's still vacation. But once you’ve determined where you’re going and where you’ll be staying, you can start planning destination-specific activities. Are you interested in group tours? Now is the time to reach out and get them booked. Outdoor adventure travel has been hot for 2021, so perhaps now is the time to brave something like heliskiing, mountain trekking, or rock climbing. One of our editors is planning a surf vacation. And with all activities, be sure to ask what safety measures are being put in place so that you (and everyone else) will feel secure.

A quick wrap to planning your first post-pandemic trip:

  • Decide what kind of travel you'd like to do.
  • Determine your restrictions and requirements.
  • Set a budget.
  • Choose where to go.
  • Nail down accommodations. 
  • Plan activities. 

What’s left? The thrill we get from planning a vacation and the anticipation for a trip to begin. Bon Voyage! 

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