In a typical year (remember those?) January is the busiest month for travel planning. Families get together over the holidays, talk about where they want to go and begin firming up plans for the next year. But if you’re waiting until January to start planning your 2022 spring break or summer vacation, you might very well find yourself out of luck. Demand is high, and because space is limited, prices are going to go up. This is especially true for popular spring break destinations such as Mexico and the Caribbean and summer vacation spots such as Italy and France. We know how badly you could use a trip. The problem is, so could everyone else, too! Let’s start working on your plans as soon as possible so you don’t get stuck at home again.
One great destination that is back and ready to welcome you is London.
The process for fulfilling the UK’s COVID requirements as quickly and easily as possible begins as soon as you step off the plane at Heathrow. Americans need to not only have a negative test taken within three days before travel but also one on or before their second day in the UK. This test needs to be booked before you arrive, and you can reserve a spot at a clinic right there in the airport to take it as soon as you land.
With that hurdle easily cleared, you are free to enjoy the best of what London has to offer (masks are required on public transportation in London, but elsewhere fully vaccinated visitors may go without). This might include a private audience with Prince Edward or a behind-the-scenes tour of the Churchill War Rooms.
Other special excursions might involve feeding cavalry horses, having a special viewing of the Changing of the Guard with Guards Museum curator Andrew Wallis, see Princess Diana’s dresses on display a Kensington Palace and a street art class inspired by Banksy, all things your travel advisor can arrange for your trip.
The hotels were resplendent in their finery as well, with The Savoy showing off its new Royal Suite by Gucci, exquisitely appointed by the designer. Founder Guccio Gucci worked as a luggage porter at The Savoy in his youth, and a century later the fashion house he founded has made its mark on the venerable hotel. Just before lockdown, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park debuted a renovation that guests may now freely enjoy, along with a view of the guards and stables across the park. The newly renovated Claridge’s showed off its makeover.
“The rooms look brand new.” After a long lockdown, so does London.
Beginning in November, the U.S. will allow vaccinated travelers from 33 countries, including China, Brazil, South Africa, India and the 26 nations in Europe’s Schengen zone, in the country for leisure travel. They will need to present a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of their departure to the U.S. They will need to have taken either one of the vaccines approved in the U.S. (Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen) or another approved by the W.H.O. (Oxford/AstraZeneca, Covishield, Sinopharm or Sinovac).
What this means for American travelers is that there will soon be a lot more competition for space in domestic travel. Hotels and resorts that might have had good availability will suddenly be filling up. Given the timing, this means that if you do not yet have your travel for Thanksgiving and the festive season booked, you should contact your travel advisor right away and get your space reserved. Airline bookings from Europe to the U.S. have surged in the last week.
This also means that flight prices to Europe and these other countries could well start to go up as demand crests. It also means that space in these countries could start to open. Like many Americans, travelers in other areas have been doing a lot of domestic travel (or travel within the European Union/Schengen zone for Europeans). With a new market opening, there are more places to go. It also might mean some countries will ease up on restrictions at least for vaccinated Americans given that the U.S. will now let their citizens in.
For you, this might mean you can now find availability on a river cruise to check out those Christmas markets in Europe. Perhaps you can ski the Alps instead of the Rockies this winter. We don’t yet know when Americans might be able to travel to China without quarantine.
Another destination that could be opening soon is Australia. The country wants to vaccinate at least 80% of its 25 million citizens before allowing international leisure travel for vaccinated visitors. Australia is about halfway there, and tourism minister Dan Tehan said last week that “at this rate” the country would open “by Christmas at the latest.” The U.S. is expected to be on the list of countries whose citizens are welcome to visit Australia provided they are fully vaccinated and adhere to other protocols. Slowly but surely, the world is reopening.