Yesterday morning as I was working at the kitchen table in my pajamas, I received an email from Jasmine Viel from CBS Los Angeles asking if I could jump on a Zoom to answer some travel questions. I gave her a quick call and asked her to give me five minutes to jump in the shower, shave and put some clothes on. She game me 10, which probably saved me from cutting my chin.

I have a little studio in our basement so I turned on the bright lights and went to town on Jasmine’s questions. I knew they would only use a few sound bites so I tried to keep my answers succinct but she asked some good questions that I think a lot of travelers might have. FYI: I can’t remember the questions verbatim or even my answers for that matter so I’m just paraphrasing here since I didn’t get the questions in advance.

Do you recommend people buy tickets for summer travel and are there any deals for the upcoming holiday weekend?
I think it’s a great time to buy or use your miles and points for summer travel. The deals are plentiful and the risks for buying are low, as most airlines will let you change your tickets for free, including the cheapest tickets … Basic Economy. Just be sure to read the fine print because not all of the airline policies are created equal. For example, if you buy a ticket on American or Delta for $500 and you decide to take a different flight and the flight is actually cheaper, AA and DL will give you the difference in the form of a credit. United won’t. Also, keep in mind that Delta is keeping the middle seats open through at least April, they say.

However, I don’t recommend traveling right now unless it’s essential because the CDC advises against it. I’m a team player, which is why I haven’t been on a plane in almost a year. The longest I had ever gone without traveling in my adult life prior to the pandemic was just a few weeks.

Once it’s safe to travel, will a lot of people take those bucket list trips they’ve always dreamed about?
Honestly, I just don’t see a lot of international travel happening this year for several reasons:

  1. Not all countries have open borders or are welcoming Americans.
  2. Not every country has access to the vaccines.
  3. Many people, including me, first want to go see our loved ones across the country before doing any other kind of personal or international travel.
  4. Because of the CDC rule that requires anyone, including Americans, who travels outside the USA to have a negative COVID-19 test in the last three (3) days when they return, travel has become more stressful and complicated. Depending on the destination, it could be a challenge, a chore, expensive and risky. What happens if you or someone in your family tests positive? Who pays for the quarantine? Can you afford to not get back into the USA for a couple of weeks? Here’s more on the CDC rule.

What do you think about the CDC potentially requiring negative COVID-19 tests for domestic travel?
If the CDC requires this for domestic flights, we’re going to see air travel take a huge nose dive since testing is not only time-consuming but it can be expensive, so people will probably just stay home or stay closer to home so they can drive or take a train. The airlines are all against the CDC’s potential requirement (obviously) because they claim that an airplane’s HEPA filtration system keep everyone safe. I’m obviously no epidemiologist but common sense tells me otherwise, especially if someone near you has COVD-19. But I do think the filters help if the plane isn’t packed and the engines are kept on during boarding and deplaning. However, who knows if they will be effective when it comes to the new B117 strain, which has the UK, Denmark and many other countries on lockdown because it’s reportedly 70 times more contagious.

I do think that tropical destinations like Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands will see an uptick in visitors because they’re exempt from the COVID-19 test requirements as they’re U.S. overseas territories.

You can see the piece here and what was cool is CBS LA also interviewed another travel expert, Peter Greenberg, who has been my travel guru since the mid-1990s.

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2 Comments On "Your 2021 Travel Questions Answered"
  1. Richard|

    I got an email that Costa Rica was opening up to U.S. travel. I checked with the State Department and they were not recommending travel to Costa RIca due to concerns about the ability to receive adequate medical care during the pandemic. That is something I had not considered.

  2. Randall|

    Johnny
    I hope you’re not planning on getting the Vaccine. I understand travel is your livelihood but the risks in receiving a fast track, untested or not fully tested, DNA altering vaccine are too great.
    It won’t keep you from getting infected or infecting others if you’re a carrier.
    It “might” lessen your symptoms.
    It will alter your DNA and it cannot be reversed.
    I love to travel but if it comes down to being forced to either take the shot in order to travel or to stay close to home, I’ll choose to stay closer to home.

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