8 Changes to Make When Planning COVID-era Travel

Because travel demand is back up, you might have to be flexible about your rental car and accommodations.
Sally FrenchJul 14, 2021

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A lot has changed in the travel world since the pre-pandemic days of 2019. Even if it seems like your life is going back to normal — you’re back in the office, you’re going out sans mask and your social calendar is once again busy — the travel industry is far from normal.

Almost everything about travel has changed. You’ll likely need to book your trip in a different order, and adjust not just where you stay, but how you get there.

Here are the biggest changes to anticipate when planning travel in this COVID-19 era:

Rental cars are in high demand as travel returns, but according to AutoSlash, a car rental site, supply is low due to a massive sell-off of vehicles during the pandemic. Many travelers report getting deals on flights only to find that rental cars are sold out.

Before buying airfare, make sure rental cars are available at a tolerable price.

And it’s generally a good idea to . Most rental car companies let you reserve in advance without making an upfront payment. Lock in a rate as soon as you can, as rental car prices will probably keep going up.

It seems like everyone is trying to make up for lost vacations in 2020, so many domestic tourist destinations are more crowded than ever. Head off the beaten path to a “,” which is a lesser-known destination near a busy one. You’ll not only avoid crowds, but your travels may also help support a city that is slowly recovering from the pandemic.

Between quarantine kitties and pandemic puppies, it seems like everyone adopted a pet last year. If that’s you, make sure that you’re aware of the pet policies before bringing along furry travel companions. can be tricky; many hotels charge extra pet fees, limit the size of pets that can be in the room or have strict rules around unattended pets.

Further, many airlines also charge pricey fees to travel with pets, and they also tend to have strict size rules.

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Between quarantine kitties and pandemic puppies, it seems like everyone adopted a pet last year. If that’s you, make sure that you’re aware of the pet policies before bringing along furry travel companions. Staying in a hotel with a pet can be tricky; many hotels charge extra pet fees, limit the size of pets that can be in the room or have strict rules around unattended pets.

Further, many airlines also charge pricey fees to travel with pets, and they also tend to have strict size rules.

While most U.S. cities are open for travelers with few restrictions, the same can’t be said for . Even if you’re vaccinated, some countries will let you in only if you agree to a quarantine, while others require a negative COVID-19 test to get in.

And remember, you’ll need a negative COVID-19 test to get back into the U.S.

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There's a labor shortage, which means restaurants are struggling to hire waiters and cooks. Throw in the fact that increasingly more restaurants are requiring reservations, and it could be tough just to find something to eat. And even if you do find a restaurant, food costs are going up — all a trifecta for making dining far from the relaxing experience you'd want it to be. To avoid those hunger pains, have protein-focused snacks on hand.

Travel has changed. Not all of the changes are bad; in fact, there are that we’d like to see stay. Whether it’s improved airline cleanliness standards or the proliferation of outdoor dining and closed streets, there’s a lot to like about our collective travel future.

But a lot of what you’re used to is gone. Don’t be upset when the hotel housekeeping staff doesn't visit daily, the breakfast buffet no longer exists or the rental cars are already sold out. You may find that some changes — a brown-bag breakfast so you can hit the road earlier, or having a driver versus renting a car — are more enjoyable anyway.

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