Let me start with some background.
We tend to book our long-haul trips as soon as flights become available for the following year to ensure we get the flights and hotels we want as well as, hopefully, lower prices. Prior to Covid we had decided to go to Vietnam next February so would normally be looking to book in April or May.
At the start of June, during lockdown, with no international travel looking possible for the foreseeable future, we booked for a trip to Vietnam in 2021.
Jack’s Flight Club offer regular flight details to destinations all over the world including South-East Asia
Sensible, Brave or Stupid?
We were in the middle of lockdown, borders were closed, airlines weren’t flying and had no firm plans to restart and there was the prospect of quarantine measures being put in place without any real detail of what that may entail.
To make things worse no-one was offering Covid travel insurance and the Foreign Office was saying anything but essential travel should be avoided, thereby voiding any travel insurance you may have.
So Why Did We Book?
A big reason was to try and ensure we could beat the crowds to bookings and get reasonable prices. Once the airways start to open up again everyone seems to expect prices for flights and hotels to increase as demand increases. In fact we saw flight prices go up by £50 over the weekend before we booked as cheaper tickets were being snapped up. If the airlines have to reduce passenger numbers in the future then the prices may go through the roof.
There were a few positive signs around the world at the time with cases falling in many countries, although not especially in the UK and Vietnam had done an excellent job with their lockdown keeping numbers low and deaths at zero. The impending quarantine to people returning to the UK was a concern as we had people who could not work from home.
Where Are We Now?
Although it is looking more positive we won’t really know until later in the year, and even then things could change before we are due to travel.
On 3rd July the UK Government announced that visitors to a number of countries will be exempt from quarantine measures on their return. The good news is that as it stands Singapore, where we are transiting through, and Vietnam will be exempt from quarantine. Now we just need Singapore Airways to begin flights and Vietnam to allow in British visitors.
Travel insurance with Covid “protection” are now being offered although when you dig down into the terms and conditions there are loads of things not covered. At the time of writing only 10 companies are offering cover for medical expenses and repatriation costs for people who contract coronavirus abroad and no-one is covering travellers caught in lockdowns when overseas. Some may also have restrictions on the countries that they will offer Covid cover.
Of those 10 only Axa, Cover For You, Coverwise, Nationwide and Trailfinders provide cover for medical treatment abroad and pre-trip cancellation if you or one of your family has Covid-19. The other 5, All Clear, Leisure Guard, The Post Office, Saga and Staysure all only offer Covid related medical expenses.
Did We Make The Right Decision?
It’s far too early to tell, in fact it will be hard to answer that question until we, hopefully, return from Vietnam or it gets cancelled.
Would We Do The Same Again?
So far flight prices haven’t increased so from that perspective we could have held on a little longer. However will that remain the same once restrictions start to be lifted? Hotel prices do seem to have increased a little but not significantly.
All in all we could have probably held off longer without being penalised too much financially. However if there is a mad rush for holidays once restrictions start to lift we could have missed out on availability or have been priced out of the market. Connecting flights and hotels are also more susceptible from restrictions being eased elsewhere in the world before the UK potentially penalising us.
It’s a tough question to answer.
What Do You Think?
Leave a comment and let us know what you think. Did we book too early? Is it too much of a risk to book yet? Will we have secured the best prices? What would you have done and what are you plans?
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