Last week we were bombarded with news headlines to the effect of: ‘yet more mixed messaging from government officials regarding summer travel’. Grant Shapps, transport Secretary, was quoted as saying don’t book a holiday. Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, was quoted as saying he already has (albeit within the UK). We’d all, therefore, be forgiven for being utterly confused as to whether or not we’re going to be able to travel again in the foreseeable future.
I personally think, after listening to the full interview, that what Grant Shapps was trying to express has been slightly mispresented. In my opinion, his message was don’t go away NOW as it’s still illegal. Furthermore, I can’t tell you exactly what and when things will be allowed regarding travel this summer. Obviously, Shapp’s is the only person who can clarify what he MEANT to say, and if this was what he meant to convey, then I agree, what he did say was poorly worded.
Either way, here’s how I see things as they are:
NOBODY knows whether or not we’re going to be able to travel (domestically or internationally) this summer. Not Shapps, not Hancock, not Boris, not Whitty. There are too many variables that are as yet unknown. However, by telling people categorically ‘not to book’, you are further depriving an industry that is already on its knees from potentially fulfilling future bookings, and potentially receiving the revenue they need to keep them afloat. To put this into context: We haven’t heard any government ministers coming out and saying don’t book a haircut as its currently illegal. Having a haircut is presently just as illegal as going on holiday. That doesn’t mean we can’t book an appointment for some time in the future in the hope that by the time that appointment comes around, it may be both safe and legal to have that haircut!
Most travel agents, hotels and accommodation providers ARE offering flexible bookings (check cancellation policies if unsure). This means you should get a full refund if the trip is cancelled due to Coronavirus travel restrictions. Flights can be a little more complicated as they may still be running to allow for business travel or repatriation. Some (mainly low cost) airlines are using this as a loophole to avoid offering refunds (or travel vouchers) if you are unable to travel. However, some airlines are dedicated to ensuring their services remain flexible in these uncertain times.
Accommodation providers and travel agencies that are providing flexible bookings:
- Booking.com (Cancellation policy stated when booking- usually fully refundable up to 3 days before travel.)
Both of the above we use regularly!
- G Adventures
- Audley Travel
Just a few more examples.
Airlines providing flexible bookings (either offering refunds or travel vouchers if you are unable to travel, even if the flight is still running):
- British Airways
- Qatar Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
- Cathay Pacific
Again, just to name a few!
Ultimately, if you take the time to book with one of the many many companies and/or independents offering secure bookings despite changing covid regulations, then the risk is minimal.
Worst case scenario:
- We have to change our trip dates.
- We are unable to go on the trip at all but get a full refund.
Best case scenario:
- We get a summer hol! Yay!
- You might bag a great deal, as lots of companies are offering significant discounts at the moment due to continued uncertainty.
- By booking now we safeguard those businesses that we want to be there for us once the world re-opens.
- We have something to look forward to later in the year.
For me, the pros of booking sooner rather than later by far outweigh the cons. I’m fully aware that times are tough financially for so many, and lots of people might not have the means to invest in a trip that may or may not go ahead. That’s obviously a personal choice. I also don’t work for the government and have no idea what will happen going forward. However, I DO know that SO many businesses are working SO hard to make it feasible for us TO book, despite the uncertainty and despite already having endured a year of absolute devastation. Therefore, I believe telling people categorically DON’T BOOK is not just unfair, but also downright misleading. It is by no means a given, but for those who can and want to book now, why not keep the hope of some summer sun alive!?
Will you be booking a summer holiday this year? And if so, where to?