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As Nancy said in her recent post, the pandemic has caused a domino effect on most folks’ travel plans. Many of us are stuck with vouchers and miles that are burning a hole in the proverbial pockets. We still don’t know when it will be safe to travel again, but the clues are emerging.
I stand by my earlier prediction that things should start going back to normal by late summer. Well, the new normal, that is. Now I’m not talking about international travel. That’s very much up in the air. But I do believe that domestic travel should start recovering in a few months.
Dreaming of Hawaii
That’s why I was seriously tempted to book a family trip to Hawaii at the end of July, right before the kids are set to go back to school. Obviously, I would be careful not to make any non-refundable reservations. At the moment, Hawaii requires a 14-day quarantine for visitors. I don’t have any inside info, but my guess is that it will be lifted at the end of May or June, assuming things are heading in the right direction.
I have been wanting to take my family to Hawaii for a long time, and things just never lined up. Partially, it’s due to long distance from Florida, plus the fact that I’m often busy planning trips to Europe in order to visit my family. My husband and I have been to Hawaii twice pre-kids, and loved it. That’s why I couldn’t resist adding a stopover in Oahu on my ill-fated plan to visit Japan.
I figured if the virus comes back in the fall (and it most likely will), summer will provide a short window of opportunity.
I’m a relatively healthy person. I did have a serious case of pneumonia as a child, which caused some scarring on my lungs. But my understanding is that it’s pretty minor. I don’t have asthma or any other breathing concerns, and I don’t get sick often.
My husband is a different story. He was diagnosed with diabetes recently and has a high cholesterol. In addition, he has an autoimmune disorder. He is literally tired all the time. I always thought it’s a coincidence, but he tends to get sick on many of our trips. In short, if he caught this virus, he could die. For realz.
All of this makes me leery of planning any long-haul flights until there is at least an established treatment in the pipeline. I do believe it will happen relatively soon. Of course, the best way not to die from the virus is not to catch it in the first place. And going through crowded airports and being stuck on the plane for hours certainly doesn’t help.
Also, I have serious concerns about the accuracy of tests in Florida. My brother-in-law got sick recently. Since he works in healthcare, we were quite worried. He had dry cough, fever, and the doctors noticed “crushed glass” pattern in his lungs via CT scan (indicative of Covid-19). Guess what? The test came back negative.
A similar thing happened to my cousin-in-law. She has been very sick with classic symptoms of the virus for several weeks now, yet the test was negative. The doctor said it’s most likely Covid-19, and that many of these tests give a false negative result. According to her, around 30% of tests are defective.
Sure, these are anecdotal stories, and perhaps my relatives don’t have the virus after all. Still, unless I can trust that testing in US is 99% accurate and distributed on a mass-scale, I’m not comfortable with travel that requires an airplane.
So, my plan for now is to do short local trips close to our house. If the situation in Florida improves, I will probably redeem points on stays in local Hyatt and Hilton resorts. I’m sure my kids will approve. Local travel is the name of the game for the foreseeable future.
Europe and Japan in 2021?
I’m an optimist by nature, and am willing to gamble on the fact that things will improve by summer of 2021. It may not happen, but that’s the nature of the game. Plus, I’m eager to use up some mileage currencies before the respective airlines potentially go bankrupt. Obviously, I will pull the plug if things deteriorate again.
I have 100k Cathay Pacific miles that I’m eager to put to good use. If everything goes right, I will turn them into 4 one-way economy tickets on American Airlines for a flight from Orlando to Amsterdam. It will include a connection in Philadelphia, but the price via Asia Miles should still be 27k miles per person. I would have to call Asia Miles center because there is no way to do it online. I’ll just need to transfer 8k MR points first in order to top up the account.
Speaking of, I’ve just upgraded my Amex Everyday card to Everyday Preferred. There was an offer to upgrade and get 25k MR points after spending $2k in 3 months. Done! Amex Everyday Preferred is an excellent keeper card IMO. You can earn 4.5 MR points on groceries, 3 points on gas, and 1.5 points on everything else, as long as you make 30 purchases during each billing period. There is an annual fee of $95, but this is one card I will most likely renew. My personal referral link if you choose to apply.
Anyway, that’s my plan for June of 2021. The goal is to meet my Belarus family in Zakopane, Poland and spend a week together. I will probably use Avianca miles for flight from Frankfurt to Orlando. I’m quite eager to get rid of Avianca miles stash, a bi-product of canceling my in-laws’ tickets to Japan.
I don’t feel bad hoarding AA or United miles because I seriously doubt the airlines will be allowed to fail by US government. It’s a different story with currencies like Lifemiles and Asia Miles. I don’t have a lot of confidence that they will be around in a year or two. That’s why I would like to burn them first before touching other, more valuable/stable currencies.
As far as Japan goes, I’m tempted to give it a go in November of 2021, during Thanksgiving holidays. It would be a relatively short trip, though I would be willing to take the kids out of school for a few days. At first, I figured the end of November in Japan would be too cold. But the more I did research, the more I discovered that it’s a nice time of the year in the region. Apparently, the leaves change, and unlike summertime, it’s possible to see mount Fuji. Now I actually want to go in November. If someone has been to Japan during that time, please chime in.
I will probably burn AA miles and Avios for flights to/from Japan, and fill in the gaps with Alaska and Delta miles for domestic flights. It’s possible my in-laws will join us, so I would need to cover 6 tickets.
Like many of you, I’m eager to go somewhere exotic and faraway. Soon! Costa Rica and Hawaii are currently calling my name. But as a responsible adult, I have to recognize that it’s not all about me. There is also my husband, whose health is unfortunately deteriorating, especially for someone who he is only 40 years old. Hopefully, with some medications we can get things under control. In the meantime, I simply can’t take any unnecessary risks with this new virus.
But there is always next year and many new places to explore.
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.