Travel junkies, how's it going out there? Ya'll okay? 2020 has been rough for...well....literally the entire world but I know that the wanderlust has never been more real for those of us who live for our next big adventure. Like so many others my own travel plans were forced into a year-long postponement thanks to covid19. While I was fortunate enough to not have any clients with planned trips in the first 6 months of this year, I did have a handful that were planning late summer or fall vacations and while I navigated the uncertain waters of helping them to reschedule and cancel bookings one thing became clear to me: Travel agents have never been more necessary!
I spent hours in private groups for agents as we all shared ideas, experiences, and most importantly, information. Most vendors did a great job of springing into action to help travelers who were not only ON vacation as quarantine's started but to assist travelers with already paid for trips in the near future. I really do not think that the travel industry is getting enough credit for the outstanding and quick work they did during the early months of this pandemic. It also showed us which vendors and travel companies truly do have the client's best interests in mind. All of my Pathfinder Travel Planning clients were able to easily reschedule or were given FULL refunds or vouchers (most were even given an option between the two) but I know from reading hundreds of message board threads that not every travel agent or traveler can say the same.
The truth is, for a long time, before I became a travel agent, I planned all my trips myself. I enjoyed the process immensely but I also thought it gave me more flexibility to take the trip that I wanted and not one that was laid out for me. However, all I kept thinking about this spring as I read the desperate pleas of help and guidance from those travelers who had done just that, was how truly and deeply grateful I was for my travel business, for the fact that I had taken the leap to build a travel company that has great relationships with top vendors and a massive support system at my finger tips should things go wrong. I am an experienced traveler and even I would have found it difficult to navigate the challenges and headaches that a global pandemic thrust at us this year were I having to go at it alone. I have never been more thankful for my global travel agent family and I know that our clients are thankful that they had a team of people in their corner, going to bat for them, and trudging through the hundreds of pages of updated cancellation policies that each travel company put out and then updated and then updated again.
And that brings me to my next point: 2020 is the year to BOOK travel. Notice I didn't say 2020 is the year TO travel but I would not be doing my job as a travel agent if I didn't help my clients to take advantage of the many new and flexible travel options that are now available to them thanks to covid19. No one can predict what the rest of 2020 will look like or even if we'll be back to "normal" by 2021 but luckily many travel companies have updated their policies to allow travelers to cancel (some even up to 24 hrs prior to leaving), reschedule, or refund their vacations if they're disrupted due to covid19. On top of all that, because of the obvious hit the travel industry has taken, many of those companies are offering huge discounts on packages as well as a la carte travel and excursions! These discounts combined with new cancellation policies mean that 2020 is throwing all of us travel obsessed people a massive bone. It's about time we catch a break, right? Well this is it. Each morning when I log onto my agent portal with my favorite travel providers I have to do a double take at the incredible deals being offered. And each time I get an update about a new or extended travel policy that allows travelers to cancel or reschedule last minute for a full refund or voucher I have to pinch myself. There has never been a more affordable or flexible time to book your travel plans.
I know 2020 has been hard. And I wish I could say that things will be easier soon but the truth is that we just don't know. And while domestic travel begins to open back up, there is still a cloud of doubt hanging over international travel. But fear not travel junkies, your travel agents are here and we are armed with more information than ever before. We want to help you get back to seeing the world as soon as we're safely able and we want to get you the best, most flexible deal possible in the process! And last, but certainly not least, a massive shout out to my fellow travel agents, travel providers, vendors, and all support staff who have truly shined during these difficult times even when it meant loss of their own income in the process. The travel industry is truly full of wonderful people and I can't wait until all of us are waiting in long TSA lines, rushing to catch connecting flights, and trying to see how long we can make 1 bag of peanuts last during a 4 hr flight once again! Until next time, keep on embracing the wanderlust!
Founder - Pathfinder Travel Planning