To go or not to go? This is the question plaguing us about our holiday pursuits this year (pun very much intended).
With the coronavirus vaccine being rolled out in the UK, travel companies are seeing a surge in bookings from people hopeful to fit in a vacation sometime in 2021.
EasyJet says bookings for this summer with easyJet Holidays is up by 250% on last year and CEO John Lundgren has said people want to go on holiday “as soon as they can”.
TUI has also seen a spike in bookings, particularly among the over-50s market as people over this age will be among the first to receive the coronavirus vaccine.
However, health secretary Matt Hancock has cautioned Brits against taking holidays abroad and instead encouraged people to plan for a “great British summer”.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab added that it’s “too early” to be booking breaks overseas.
Watch: Why Britons will get an extra bank holiday in 2022
While we’re remaining firmly in place for the foreseeable, should we hedge our bets and book an overseas holiday for later in the summer?
“There is a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding the future of lockdowns and travel restrictions. Booking any trips that will depart in the coming weeks is probably unwise, as the likelihood of being able to travel is low, however for trips much later in the year, now could be a great time to book,” Nicky Kelvin, director of content at The Points Guy, told Yahoo UK.
Skyscanner’s consumer rights travel expert Gavin Harris said there are “a number of factors” travellers need to consider before booking a holiday this year.
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“If you’re thinking about budget, there are fantastic deals to be had just now, but some people might feel more comfortable booking closer to their departure date when the restrictions landscape will be clearer,” Harris said.
“For travellers who want to book and have something to look forward to, a flexible ticket can give you that added peace of mind.”
A spokesperson from ABTA – The Travel Association said booking a package holiday is your safest bet.
“ABTA would recommend booking a package holiday so that if travel is still not possible due to the pandemic once your holiday is due, you will be able to amend the booking or request a refund,” the spokesperson continued.
“Increasing numbers of people are now booking packages as they recognise the protections they offer and tour operators are also offering more flexible booking conditions to provide reassurance and build customer confidence.”
What are the benefits of booking a holiday now?
“A big thing to consider is budget,” Harris said.
“Again that comes down to the individual but we're seeing that prices for summer 2021 are still lower than we would expect at this time of year, as travel providers continue to stimulate bookings with extremely attractive deals.”
He adds that the average price of a flight to Greece in July is £232, but Skyscanner has seen return flights from London to Mykonos for as little as £82 this summer.
Kelvin agreed that there are some “incredibly good” deals to take advantage of at the moment.
“Travel companies are trying to encourage bookings to bring cash back into their coffers. If you are able to secure a very good deal, combined with a fully flexible and/or refundable booking and with a company and payment method where your money is protected, there is no reason not to book a trip now for later in the year,” Kelvin added.
Another benefit could be having something to look forward to when life feels a little monotonous at present.
“One thing we know from our travellers is that the planning and looking forward to a holiday is all part of the fun,” Harris said.
“For some, having the commitment of a booking that may shift in time is still an important milestone to look forward to this year.”
Are companies offering refunds if you need to cancel your holiday due to the pandemic?
Many airlines and travel companies have implemented flexible booking policies since the start of the pandemic to encourage more people to book holidays, so it would be worth checking out a company’s policy before booking with them.
“Airlines are only required by law to issue a refund if the flight is cancelled or undergoes a significant schedule change,” Kelvin explained.
“If you are unable to travel yourself but the flight goes ahead, there is no automatic right to a refund and the relevant airline’s policy will apply.”
Harris added: “Travel insurance and the right level of cover is also more important than ever - make sure any existing policy you have in place covers you for the travel you are looking to book.”
Ultimately, it’s virus and vaccine-pending whether or not we’ll be able to head overseas this year. If you do choose to book, make sure every one of your bases are covered.