Travel plans urged as COVID-related vouchers may be reaching end date

AAA Oklahoma
Planning those postponed trips may need to come sooner, rather than later, as some COVID-related vouchers may be approaching expiration dates.

Just past the one-year mark for the pandemic, AAA Oklahoma is now encouraging those forced to delay travel plans because of COVID-19 to pay close attention to the expiration dates of their travel vouchers and begin making plans sooner rather than later — or they may find themselves with fewer options and additional expenses.

“If you have vouchers for previously canceled or delayed travel plans, it’s critical you act now to understand your options and begin exploring possibilities, because availability of transportation and accommodations may be limited,” Sheila Nielsen, AAA Oklahoma travel advisor, said. “The most important thing to understand is the expiration date of any travel voucher so that you can begin planning well in advance.”

Travel vouchers will vary depending on the provisions and limitations set by the issuing cruise line, airline or vendor.

Since the beginning of March, AAA Oklahoma has seen a sharp increase in travel bookings, reflective of increasing consumer confidence with the vaccine rollout and easing of CDC travel restrictions. Those who are planning to travel, whether cashing in a voucher or booking new travel, will need to adjust expectations for a new normal.

“In the coming months, AAA Travel is anticipating strong demand but some supplies – such as airline seats, hotel rooms and rental cars – will be limited,” Nielsen added. “Planning ahead will be key.”

AAA offers the following tips for post-pandemic travel:

• Know before you go – understand COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines that you must abide by before, during and after your trip.

• Make timely use of travel vouchers – understand the limitations of any travel vouchers, especially the expiration date.

• Book accommodations in advance – don’t assume availability. COVID-related guidelines may limit availability of some accommodations.

• Don’t expect deep discounts – the cost of travel will be a factor of supply and demand. There will be strong demand but ‘supply’ of transportation (flights, car rentals) and accommodations may be limited so deep discounts may be limited as well.

• Prepare to pay more for car rentals – many rental companies sold off vehicles during the pandemic so availability is limited. Rental cars may be as costly as flights.

• Consider travel insurance – Every policy is different. Read the fine print to understand coverage.

• Work with a trusted travel advisor – A trusted advisor can help to navigate options, customize travel and provide the latest COVID-related restrictions or requirements.