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Start planning now for future getaway

The freedom to travel is what many of us look forward to most about life post-COVID. We can’t wait to visit loved ones, return to favorite vacation spots or explore new parts of the country and the world.

What will our return to travel look like? Don’t expect a “travel now” statement that all destinations or cruises are back. It will be an uneven start with great opportunities for travelers who can navigate restrictions and follow some new rules.

Travel in the U.S. is picking up significantly, with Transportation Security Administration counts showing domestic airport travel at around 65 percent of pre-COVID levels. International travel is returning too. As of this writing, 70 countries allow U.S. visitors with no restrictions while only 16 will not allow U.S. visitors. The rest of the world welcomes us with restrictions, typically a negative COVID test and/or proof of vaccination.

For travel right now, destinations that are open include Hawaii, Mexico, Ireland, Croatia and most of the Caribbean. Families are booking resort vacations for reunions, couples are booking romantic getaways and friends are booking adventure tours. Many had plans for 2020 canceled and had hoped to travel in 2021, so there is high pent-up demand, which means that as time goes on, options could be limited and prices will increase. It’s important to note that as of this writing, most travel suppliers have relaxed their cancellation policies for those willing to book for late 2021.

Summer vacation family packages for this year are currently available at popular destinations throughout Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Looking to the fall, travelers are eyeing tours and cruises to view the autumn colors in New England, as well as smaller vessel river cruises in Europe.

By the time there is little to no worry about COVID, availability will be tight and prices will be high, so now is a good time to consider booking travel. How should travelers navigate a new normal? We’re certainly biased, but use a professional. We offer buying power, expertise, full-time dedication to the industry and superior technology. We’re your advocate during the purchase process through the end of your trip. During these trying times, our responsibility is to monitor and help you take advantage of the countless changes we hear about each week. Remember, using a reputable travel adviser for your vacation will not cost you extra. We’re likely to save you money.

For those who want to plan on their own, here’s one important piece of advice: Start reading the fine print! Terms and conditions are as important as price for the next year.

Wherever you’d like to go, the world is waiting for you!

Ray Watson is the president of Uniglobe Golden Empire Travel, which was started in 1987 and continues under the same ownership and management, which is 100 percent local. Uniglobe partners with Uniglobe Travel International and with Virtuoso, international leader in vacation sales. Sue Benham is a Uniglobe consultant for vacation travel and Ray Watson is the lead contact for corporate travel.