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Should You Book Travel For 2021? When Your Next International Holiday Could Be A Reality

There's no doubt the closing of borders on March 20 has Australians asking when their next holiday might become a reality.

After two months of self isolation, many understandably are also getting itchy feet. But how will the coronavirus impact the ability for Australians to travel?

Australia is predicted to lose $25 billion in foreign spending as COVID-19 shut down tourism coming from outside of Australia, according Finder.

A panel of 42 experts and economists weighed in our tourism and when we can expect Australia's borders to open again as part of the RBA Cash Rate Survey, with an overwhelming 87 percent believing they will remain closed until the end of the year.

Travel in 2021 is looking much more likely than this year. Image: Getty

The outlook is much better for borders to reopen in 2021, with 52 percent believing it will happen in the first six months of next year, while the remaining 48 percent believe it will happen in the second half of the year.

But does the likelyhood of borders reopening in 2021 mean you should book travel for next year? The coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed the face of travel and will continue to do so well into the future.

As the rules around travel continue to change and with limited airline operations, understanding whether or not booking a holiday is a good idea at the moment can be confusing. Here are some points to consider when contemplating if you should book a trip:

Should I book future travel right now?

There are lots of reasons why Australians are considering booking a holiday right now. We all like to look forward to a holiday and focusing on planning can help take our minds of things.

Many of us are also missing our loved ones and want to schedule in time to see them, while others believe that it will be cheaper to book in now as opposed to later in the year.

"Ultimately, it is a personal choice of whether now feels like the right time to start thinking about a trip," Skyscanner’s Jon Thorne suggested.

Of course, feeling ready to start thinking about future travel will be different for every individual. For many, having something to look forward to in the future will be a positive to focus on. For others, uncertainty of other aspects of life will be the priority right now.

If you are thinking of booking flights, accommodation and activities, Thorne said you should make sure you are completely across the policies of the companies you are booking with.

"If you do, be sure to check the policies covering your booking," Thorne said.

Will it be cheaper if I book travel now?

Given the state of the tourism industry and many airlines struggling to stay afloat, many assume booking a holiday now will be cheaper than doing so when borders reopen.

A number of initiatives have been started to help hotels for example, survive through the coronavirus pandemic. Through these campaigns -- including "We Travel Forward", “Buy Now, Stay Later," and “Hotel Credits" --  customers can buy hotel credit and redeem it for up to 50 percent more in the future.

While many international hotels are included in these three initiatives, the vast majority are from the US so purchasing credits will depend on where you plan to travel.

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What about flexible policies?

The advice to avoid all but essential international travel until at least the end of the year means the guidance could change very quickly, Thorne believes.

That's why it's important to make sure if you are making any plans, they are flexible.

"Many airlines are adopting flexible booking policies to enable customers to plan a trip but have the peace of mind that if restrictions are still in place, they will not lose out," Thorne said.

For example, Qantas is allowing travellers who were due to depart before 31 July to cancel their flights and retain the value as a credit that can be used before the end of the year, while all airfare credits issued this year will also have their validity extended until the end of the year.

But with the advice changing day-by-day as airlines respond to changing circumstances, Thorne advised checking the most up to date policies at the time of booking before you make a decision.

"Always consider taking out travel insurance prior to booking, and check the level of cover, too."

Where will we travel?

Australians travellers are feeling more confident about traveling domestically than they are internationally according to Skyscanner's Pulse Traveller Survey.

The most recent data shows that 85 percent of travellers believe it will be safe to take a domestic holiday within the next six months when compared to 58 percent who believe they will be able to travel internationally before the end of 2020.

The top searched international destinations were London, followed by Dublin, Seoul, Tokyo and Bali.

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What about the 'trans-Tasman bubble'?

New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters first suggested the idea of a 'trans-Tasman bubble' which could see Australia and New Zealand opening their borders to each other.

"Our figures with Australia, it's almost as if we've got a trans-Tasman bubble between our two countries, and if the figures keep on going that way, then that is a serious possibility," he in April.

"We are exploring that as we speak."

Both Australian and New Zealand have been praised for containing the COVID-19 outbreak and flattening the curve, allowing for the consideration of opening our borders to each other.

Jacinda Ardern said opening the borders would help both Australia and New Zealand's economies. Image: Getty

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said allowing travel between the two countries could offer 'huge advantages' and joined the Australian Government's National Cabinet meeting today to discuss the proposal.

“When we feel comfortable and confident that we both won’t receive cases from Australia, but equally that we won’t export them, then that will be the time to move,” she told reporters in Wellington.

Allowing for travel between the two countries would as a result see many Australians considering New Zealand as their next holiday destination.

Featured image: Getty

Do you have a lifestyle story or personal experience to share with us? Reach out and tell us about it at vtodoroska@networkten.com.au