Many people limited or completely cut travel from their lives during the pandemic. With the COVID-19 vaccine roll out giving Americans a renewed sense of optimism, some are ready to brainstorm future travel plans.
In fact, 58% of people plan to travel in 2021, according to a survey by IPX1031, a Fidelity National Financial company.1 Below are some money-saving tips (including leveraging your credit card points!) and special considerations for travel planning in 2021.
How to lower the cost of vacation
1. Compare booking sites
Check different booking sites if you find a hotel or other accommodation with perfect amenities but a less than perfect price tag. Some listings are featured on multiple sites and the price may differ depending on where you look.
- Tip: Gain access to luxury hotel listings and earn 2x the points on all purchases with General Electric Credit Union’s (GECU) Visa Signature® card.*
2. Use credit card points
Make your money work for you with credit card points! You’ll earn points for purchases you were going to make anyway, such as groceries or gas. If you’re interested in potentially covering the price of a plane ticket or lowering the overall cost of a hotel stay, look for a credit card with points you can redeem for travel expenses or activities.
3. Search for entertainment deals
OK, so you know where you want to go, but what about what you want to do once you get there? From hiking to food tours, there are many excursions available to you once you reach your destination.
Create an itinerary in advance so you don’t book an overpriced option at the last minute. In the weeks leading up to your vacation, peruse listing sites such as Groupon to spot good deals on activities in the area. Sign up for a credit card with reward points you can cash in for entertainment.
4. Limit dining out
If food isn’t the main focus of your travels, consider eating in a few nights of your vacation! Many vacation rental properties come with an eat-in kitchen to whip up tasty meals for you and your travel companions.
5. Pack light
If you feel comfortable enough to fly, pack light. Many airlines allow you to bring one carry on for free. Avoid paying for a checked bag by using something like a duffel bag, backpack, or slim suitcase compact enough to fit in overhead compartments. Leave some room for any souvenirs you acquire along your travels.
Special considerations for travel in 2021
1. Read the fine print
The pandemic is still a situation in flux, so it’s important to review the fine print when booking hotel stays and airline tickets. Confirm if you’ll receive a partial or full refund should you be unable to travel for a pandemic-related reason.
2. Be mindful of your destination
Do your homework on the destination and any COVID-19 restrictions in place. On April 2nd, the CDC announced people who are fully vaccinated can travel safely within the U.S.
Know COVID-19 restrictions may vary from state to state, and restrictions can loosen or get more strict over time. Because of this, be prepared for itinerary adjustments depending on your destination. If you’re traveling locally, you can read more about Ohio’s travel guidance here. There are many destinations in driving distance from Cincinnati, including Mammoth Cave National Park (KY), Red River Gorge (KY), Hocking Hills (OH), Gatlinburg, and Nashville.
At this time, the CDC cautions against international travel due to the risk of getting and spreading new COVID-19 variants. If you choose to travel internationally, know you will need to have a negative COVID-19 test result both before leaving the U.S. and before reentering the U.S.
If you are fully vaccinated, you will only need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to reenter the country. Be prepared and have a plan for getting tested abroad. For more information on recommendations and requirements related to international travel, refer to the U.S. Department of State’s website.
- Tip: If you plan to travel internationally at any point in the future, enjoy no foreign transaction fees with GECU’s Visa Signature® credit card.*
3. Heed comfort levels
While you may have enjoyed exploring big cities prior to the pandemic, you may not feel ready for crowds or taking public transportation. Be mindful of your comfort level and the comfort level of those accompanying you. You’re more likely to enjoy a hard-earned vacation if you aren’t stressed by your surroundings. Opt for a destination in the countryside or in a wooded area for a more secluded adventure. Now is the time to try outdoor activities like hiking or boating!
4. Travel safely
Do not travel if you test positive for COVID-19. The CDC also recommends not traveling if you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are feeling sick.
Get the most out of your vacation by cutting costs and remaining mindful of the ongoing situation. If you’re ready for a points-based credit card, GECU offers two attractive options: Our Visa Signature® card lets you earn 2x the points everywhere, all the time; Our Platinum card offers 3x back for U.S. supermarkets and wholesale clubs, 2x for gas, and 1x for other purchases.**
Points from both cards can be redeemed for travel-related expenses and excursions. Our industry-leading credit cards are just one reason GECU was named the Best Credit Union in Cincinnati for 2021.