TKOYM: Stay vigilant when planning your subsequent journey

Experts urge travelers to continue to take precautions for their health while monitoring any policy changes that may come with certain travel offers.

LAKEVILLE, Minn. – The vacation photos of Chuck and Sofya Gollop show memories from all over the world, their thirst for adventure is so great that they went overseas five times last year alone.

But the pandemic justified all of their plans and kept them at their Lakeville home as they dreamed of more adventures.

“Between work and pleasure, I’ve probably traveled ten times less than last year,” said Chuck. “And it’s a real feeling of depression.”

Because of this, the Gollops booked a Christmas trip to the Dominican Republic, a country where US travelers are still allowed.

“We just decided to do it, not necessarily because we got a good deal but because it was good for us,” said Sofya.

But is it good for your health and your wallet? Maria Anderson travel agent says some people, like the Gollops, just aren’t sure they want to get away without getting sick.

“They’re shopping,” said Anderson, who owns Escape With Us Vacations in St. Paul. “You’re trying to figure out a plan. But they’re still hideous.”

RELATED: CDC Issues “Strong Recommendation” For Travelers To Wear Masks

Skittish as the Centers for Disease Control does not advise against travel but instead gives Americans a long list of precautions like wearing a mask, avoiding close contact, and washing hands.

Experts also say that you should be extra careful around security lines, terminals and public transport where the risks could be higher. However, according to the CDC, flying is safe. Viruses and germs do not spread easily on flights because aircraft air is filtered and circulated. And Anderson says both airlines and airports go the extra mile.

“If someone had a higher temperature (on security lines, TSA agents) they would just pull them out of the crowd and handle it separately, but everyone else is only allowed to go through,” said Anderson.

However, some travelers just don’t take chances, which means that those who get great deals could often get 30 or even 40% less than last year. But Anderson warns you that you have to be careful because sometimes you really get what you pay for.

“Often times, the lowest rates are the non-refundable rates,” said Anderson. “And you can pay a little extra to cancel for free up to a day before you travel. So that’s a big deal.”

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Experts also say that you should check the policies to change and cancel and know that you might get a coupon rather than a refund. They say that you should always book with a credit card as they are usually more helpful with disputes and say that travel insurance is a must, especially now.

“It’s obviously a little more than you want to spend, but the reassurance that you can get a refund if you choose to cancel is definitely worth it,” said Anderson.

Chuck and Sofya agree and hope that their first big trip in a year of uncertainty will be everything they envisioned.

“I will be as careful as I can when driving through airports,” said Sofya. “But that is exactly what will be my choice.”

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