What Does Travel Look Like in 2021?

Were you a frequent traveler before the pandemic? If so (or even if you weren’t), are you itching to travel again?

Money expert Clark Howard has advice for people who are looking to travel sometime this year — and save money in the process.

He recommends that you book airline flights now for later in 2021 — but continue to wait to book a cruise.

When Will Clark Travel Again?

The short answer is “not quite yet,” but Clark says he is planning for the future.

“I keep trying to book travel and my wife keeps saying, ‘Whoa, hold on! You’re not booking travel yet!”

“It’s driving me crazy because I used to travel so often, mostly for work,” he adds.

As we all know, the travel industry has been crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic. When will it all start to look “normal” again?

When Will Travel Bounce Back?

Clark predicts that travel is going to take off in the second half of 2021.

“They’re expecting that as we move into summer and especially by fall, there’s going to be very strong demand for travel,” Clark says, referring to the airlines.

"As we get more shots in people's arms, it's going to bring the hospitality, restaurant and travel businesses back to life," Clark says.

Let’s look at two main cogs of the travel industry — airlines first, and then cruises — to see what customers can expect.


Clark says the airline industry was quick to recognize customers’ uncertainty about travel during the pandemic and adjusted some of its rules to be more accommodating.

“You have typically now much more customer-friendly policies than we’ve had historically,” he says.

Most airlines suspended fees for changing or canceling flights during the pandemic, but the end dates on those policies are now approaching.

Should You Book Now?

Fee waiver expiration dates — as well as some real flight deals out there right now — are why Clark says:

"If you think you're going to travel later this year, and you can find a real deal right now, book it."


Clark says the cruise industry, in general, isn’t offering customer-friendly policies right now.

“Many of the cruise lines are making their deposits non-refundable even if something happens and you can’t go on that cruise,” he says. “They’re silent on what happens if they cancel the cruise.“

Should You Book Now?

“I don’t recommend booking cruises until the industry reforms,” Clark says. “And by reform I mean, with all the unknowns related to coronavirus, that they have very generous policies on refunds or being able to roll full value forward.”

Bottom Line

To sum it up, Clark is optimistic that travel is poised to return sometime in 2021.

“Because I can tell you, when travel does come back and I do believe it will come back this summer, you’re going to see the fares go sky-high,” he says.

Listen to Clark’s full take on travel:

More Travel Resources From Clark.com:

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