Coronavirus travel tips: Flexibility and cleanliness matter most when planning a future trip

(BPT) – It’s no secret coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted many aspects of our daily lives, including travel. Between international restrictions and statewide stay-at-home mandates, wanderlust is undoubtedly on the rise. An Expedia poll of 1,500 U.S. residents, conducted between May 4 and 8, 2020, shows people are feeling more vacation deprived than they did before the outbreak. The poll also revealed roughly 70% of Americans intend to travel at some point in the next 12 months.

At the end of the day, the decision to travel will largely come down to preference and what government restrictions may or may not be in place. Regardless, everyone should feel secure and comfortable in their choices when it’s OK to get out there again. To give travelers additional peace of mind, here are Expedia’s top tips for planning and booking any travel:

  • As a first step, check the latest global health and travel advisories for your intended destination. As the situation continues to change for each state and country, ensure your vacation spot is accepting non-residents or international travelers. It’s also beneficial to know if there are any quarantine periods still required as that might influence where you go and the length of your stay.
  • Consider booking refundable hotels rather than non-refundable ones. In the same poll, over 70% of Americans expressed concern about COVID-19 impacting their future travel plans and another 60% indicated that their travel plans have already been changed or canceled due to the pandemic. To make it easier for travelers to search for flexible options, Expedia updated their website so you can filter by hotels that offer free cancellation. If at any point their plans change, they’re able to receive a full refund. Note: Some of these hotels require you to cancel at least 24-48 hours before check-in, be sure to check the details before booking.
  • Remember to check applicable terms and conditions, especially when booking flights. To provide travelers with the most flexibility, Expedia recently added in a filter where travelers can sort their results to airlines that are waiving any change fees for future bookings.
  • Over the last couple of years, most major airlines rolled out new “basic economy” or “saver” fares. These fares are cheaper, but they’re also a lot more restrictive and generally do not permit any changes or cancellation. Expedia wants to make sure travelers book the fare that has the best value for them, so they’ve made updates to the site in recent months to call out what is and what is not included in each fare throughout the booking process. Before checking out, travelers can easily compare fares and see what makes the most sense for them based on their needs and preferences.
  • Sites like Expedia have always offered travelers the flexibility to make changes or cancel their flight booking within 24 hours of purchase. Whether it was because of an error (who hasn’t accidentally booked p.m. flights when they really meant to select a.m.?), or because a trip is no longer needed, travelers can cancel without penalty, regardless of fare type or airline, during the grace period.
  • Most Americans are concerned about their health and cleanliness when they resume travel, and the industry is regularly revealing new sanitation measures to help combat the spread of infectious diseases. Expedia plans to display these hygiene amenities on its site so travelers can feel comfortable leaving home; they’ll know whether a hotel property has enhanced cleaning processes or if an airline requires passengers to wear face masks. It’s also a good idea to start bringing items like hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes on future vacations like you would a phone charger.