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How to plan travel in 2021

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you'll be ready.

2020 has thrown a lot of things into turmoil, including the travel plans of many. Government restrictions, COVID-19 outbreaks and general wariness have stopped many people travelling, but with the hope of a vaccine and more travel bubbles on the horizon, travellers are wondering how to plan travel in 2021.

While no one has a crystal ball, many airlines, hotels and countries have made changes that could see travel being more of a possibility next year. If you’re itching to explore somewhere new, we’ll show you how to find the best deals, flexible booking policies, and more to help make the most of your 2021 travels.

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Travel advice and guidelines are changing rapidly. Be sure to consult official government advice before your journey.

Things to know about booking future travel in 2021

Knowing how to plan travel in 2019 and knowing how to plan travel in 2021 are two very different things. While it was once relatively rare to have a flight cancelled or rescheduled, these changes are more common as airlines adapt to government restrictions, border closures and passenger demand.

Opt for flexible fares

While non-refundable flights and set dates used to be a way to save money on bookings, this won’t be an ideal strategy for 2021 as travel plans can change without notice. Despite this, there are plenty of deals to be had. The catch? Flexibility is key.

When you book your flight or accommodation, opt for bookings that have generous change and cancellation policies. That way, if your trip needs to be rescheduled, you won’t lose the money you’ve spent on your booking. Check out our guide on how to plan travel during COVID-19 for more tips and advice.

How to plan travel in 2021

Keep an eye on government restrictions

2020 has revealed just how quickly a national or local government can close borders. Before you book, consult local government advice as well as the official government advice to discover where you can travel. You’ll need a green light from both destinations. As time inches towards your departure date, stay alert for any restrictions so that you don’t show up at the airport to board a cancelled flight.

Plan with stopovers in mind

Every destination has its own set of rules when it comes to handling stopover passengers. Some destinations allow travellers to move freely through their airport without any special visa or quarantine restrictions. Others, however, might require a quarantine upon arrival or ban travellers from passing through altogether. When booking your flight, check the restrictions of any destinations you’ll be passing through on the way to your final stop. This is especially important if you’re planning a multi-country holiday that zig zags across the globe.

COVID-19 vaccine facilitating travel

Although there is no vaccine currently available for coronavirus, health professionals and researchers across the world are making developments. In recent news, researchers at Pfizer and Moderna have stated that their latest vaccine trials look promising.

There’s still a way to go before vaccines are widely available. However, the fact that trials are proving to be effective and suitable for human trials shows that there’s hope for an improvement in global health. With that, there’s potential for a return to safe travel. Until then, it’s important we all stick to the combination of face masks, social distancing and regularly washing hands.

How to plan travel in 2021 -- vaccines, face masks and more.

Buy comprehensive travel insurance

While the necessity of travel insurance always pops up as a travel debate, it is bound to be vital for planning that winter getaway or summer holiday in 2021.

How to plan travel in 2021: make sure you get comprehensive travel insurance

Before you choose a plan, take a close look at the terms and conditions. Many travel insurance companies will not cover any issues that arise from ‘known events,’ like the COVID-19 pandemic. Other policies will only cover travel to certain destinations, typically those considered low risk when it comes to COVID-19 community case transmission. Comb through the fine print so that you know what the plan is if your trip is cancelled or if you fall ill while you’re abroad.

Who can I fly with in 2021?

With many planes grounded over the past year, some airlines have folded or put their flight schedules on pause. Meanwhile, others are facing uncertain times and changing hands when it comes to ownership.

However, many of the large airlines are ready to help you travel in 2021. Lately, travellers are able to get better better booking terms than they have in the past. Some of these conditions include:

Airline Booking Terms
British AirwaysCertain flights booked up to the end of August 2021 can be changed (destination, dates or both) with no fee.
easyJetThe airline has waived all change fees up to 14 days before departure. Any cancelled flights can be switched for a voucher valid until summer 2021.
RyanairThe airline has dropped its flight change fees for new bookings until 21 March 2021.
TUIIf within 14 days of your departure date you’re not able to travel, you can choose a different holiday for free (although you’ll have to pay any difference in fare).

Where can I travel in 2021?

Knowing how to plan travel in 2021 begins with knowing where you can go. Countries are likely to change border opening and closing dates throughout the year, but regional travel bubbles don’t seem far from forming between countries with similar COVID-19 case rates. Some destinations are allowing travellers in, so long as they have a negative COVID-19 test result in hand. To discover whose borders are open, check out our interactive global map.

Tokyo is hoping to be open for the Olympics

Knowing how to plan travel in 2021 may take a bit more time and care, but if everything pans out, it’ll be well worth the effort.

Common questions travellers have about planning a trip for 2021

How do I set up a travel plan?

Setting up a travel plan has a few key factors. Working out a budget is a good starting point. From there you’ll want to look at destinations, flights, hotels, dates and tours. Travel insurance is a must these days. Thankfully, most planning can be done online with Skyscanner’s handy search tools.

When can I travel internationally again?

International travel depends on a few factors, most importantly your destination’s border policy. Many countries have talked about opening up borders fully in 2021, if they haven’t done so already, but this may change if there are further COVID cases.

How do travel bubbles work?

The idea of a travel bubble is a reciprocal agreement between two or more countries that would see citizens be allowed to freely travel within the bubble without the need for quarantining. Residents of other countries entering the bubble will still need to quarantine as usual.

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