Booking a trip in 2021 is looking a bit different than it did a year ago. Travel companies have changed some of their policies to accommodate travelers who want to still travel abroad, and federal, state, and local governments have relaxed and revoked many of their quarantine laws.

And while traveling may be easier because fewer people are doing it, that doesn’t mean you’ll have fewer problems. It just means you might have different problems. But staying on top of things and staying prepared will help you on your next trip, just like you were when you traveled before.

Here are six tips for booking a trip in 2021.

1. Check the cancellation policy

Silhouette of an airplane against the sun. If you're going to be booking a trip this year, make sure you follow these steps.Many travel companies are letting people cancel or change their flights without penalty, but that doesn’t mean every company is doing it. And some companies may have changed back to their old policies as lockdown statuses have changed around the world.

So be sure to read the cancellation and change policies carefully when you’re booking a flight or hotel reservation. The details may be different than what you expect, and you don’t want to be caught if you have to change your plans because of an emergency.

2. Buy the best travel insurance for your trip

These days, travel insurance providers offer different types of coverage, and one size definitely does not fit all. Your trip may call for a kind of coverage that some travel insurance policies won’t provide, so you don’t want to just buy the first policy you find.

Be sure to read what your possible insurance providers can do so you are covered on all fronts. For instance, you may need to leave your destination early because of a mental health issue, or because you get sick. If your insurance covers that kind of issue, you’re fine. If it does not, you may have to pay for another ticket just to get home and not be refunded for your unused tickets and reservations.

Or if you’re flying to another country, and you require a hospital stay, there are a few insurance providers who will cover that, but you need to make sure that’s what you’re getting.

3. Pay With a Credit Card

If you use a credit card for payment, you’re more likely to have purchase protection than if you used a debit card or cash. Credit card companies typically protect cardholders and cover purchases in case something upends your purchase, like your travel provider going out of business.

Plus you can get a credit card that is part of a loyalty club program for an airline or hotel. If you can use this throughout the year, you can earn points that will help you pay for your next trip.

4. Make a reservation soon

Timing is everything when it comes to booking a trip. Travelers want to get the best rates and may wait until they think they find a good deal. Don’t wait too long though. Tickets can get booked fast and you may miss booking a ticket and stay for the right day.

It’s also likely that the price is going to go up instead of down as you get closer to the date. If you’re going to travel during the peak travel season, then don’t even wait. Buy your tickets and book your reservations as early as possible, because that’s the best the price is going to be.

5. Stay up-to-date with restrictions

Travel restrictions are still in place for different airports and countries around the world at this point, but quarantine requirements are changing depending on where you’re going and where you’re coming from. Keep an eye out for the policies in effect at your destination and even for your trip home. You may have issues returning home if you’re coming from a hotspot.

For air travel, search TSA’s website for what is and is not allowed on the flights as these change as well.

And check your destination too. Search for any public policies for the hotel you are staying at as well as any sights you visit. Maybe even keep an eye on the local news, in case there are city restrictions.

6. Confirm everything

The details of your flights and stays can get lost between booking and arriving at each place. Always get a confirmation number or code for every purchase you make and have detailed information (maybe even a screenshot) about that purchase. This will confirm your purchases as you first saw them and having a copy may prove useful in case the details get scrambled.

You might even want to schedule things like flights, hotel stays, and so on as calendar appointments on your phone. Copy and paste the confirmation numbers into the appointments so they’re always stored in a central location.

Have you tried booking a trip lately? How did you manage? Do you have any special tips or recommendations on what other travelers should do to reduce the chances of a problem? Tell us about it on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.

Photo credit: Blende12 (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)