Weekend Reading: What's Next For Travel Edition

It’s hard to believe that just three months ago we were preparing to travel to Italy. It was one of several trips we had planned for 2020, including a return to the U.K. in July and a trip to Victoria to close out the summer. Then COVID-19 hit and our plans quickly changed.

Italy was cancelled (obviously), but we held onto our U.K. booking until travel and refund policies became more clear. That changed last week when our return flight was cancelled by the airline. That was the sign we needed to cancel the remainder of our trip.

Some countries are preparing to loosen travel restrictions in hopes to welcome international travellers this summer. But the Government of Canada is still advising Canadians to avoid non-essential travel until further notice. 

Interprovincial travel is also still widely discouraged, although restrictions vary across provinces. The BC government says, “Now is not the time to travel for tourism or recreation.” That likely spells the end for our planned trip to Victoria in late August. 

Our flights to Italy and the U.K. were booked through Aeroplan and so when we cancelled our miles were returned and fees & taxes were 100% refunded by Air Canada. Thousands of Canadians haven’t been so lucky with their cancelled travel plans, as airlines have been issuing travel credits instead of cash refunds.  

We booked our flights to Victoria through WestJet, which is likely subject to the travel credit policy should we cancel. 

What’s Next for Travel?

We’re prepared to spend summer at home and have adopted a wait-and-see approach to future travel. While we’d love to have a do-over next year and re-book our trips to Italy and the U.K., there’s just too much uncertainty to do anything as long as Canada’s travel advisory remains in place.

We’re also thinking about how the travel experience will change due to COVID-19. Additional screening at airports will make the check-in and arrival process even more cumbersome. Will airlines continue to leave the middle seat open and operate at 70% capacity or less? What impact will that have on airfare? Will we be required to wear masks on-board the aircraft? How will that work on longer flights with meal service?

When it comes to accommodations, would you prefer to stay at a hotel or a short-term rental (Airbnb)? I’m leaning towards Airbnb. Why?

Most hotels are poorly equipped to operate in a COVID-19 world. You have hundreds of travellers arriving from all over the world. There are way too many touch points, including check-in, baggage handling, and the ubiquitous restaurant buffet. 

Many Airbnbs offer keyless entry and guests can do their own additional cleaning and sanitization to suit their comfort level.

While we dream of travelling in a post-COVID world, we’ve changed the way we collect and redeem credit card rewards. I switched to a cash back credit card – the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite card – to earn more money back on groceries and other essentials. We’re also collecting and redeeming more PC Optimum Points.

In the meantime, we’re sitting on 600,000 Aeroplan miles – ready to deploy once it’s safe to resume international travel again.

This Week’s Recap:

Earlier this week I wrote about how and when to rebalance your portfolio

Over on Young & Thrifty I explained how to invest your money in 2020.

At Greedy Rates – the stock market might crash, but what does that mean for your investments?

I applied for 13 credit cards last year. Here’s what that did to my credit score.

Promo of the Week:

Last week I highlighted EQ Bank as a great place to park your emergency fund or cash savings. Of course, their website was undergoing maintenance last weekend and many of you weren’t able to sign up. So, once again, here’s a plug for EQ:

EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account consistently offers an everyday high interest rate at or near the top of the market with no hassles. Open an account here and fund it with $100 within 30 days and you’ll get a $20 cash bonus for free.

Weekend Reading:

I enjoyed the first episode of Rob Carrick’s and Roma Luciw’s new podcast called Stress Test. This one looks at how to survive the gig economy.

Erica Alini explains why more seniors are expected to turn to reverse mortgages due to COVID-19.

Jason Heath shares four key things to consider before taking an early retirement package.

Here’s why the bank of mom and dad will need to step in as millennials struggle during the pandemic.

Millionaire Teacher Andrew Hallam smartly explains why emerging market ETFs are a great deal now.

A shocking stat from the Better Dwelling blog shows that the Canadian personal HELOC growth rate nearly tripled in a month.

“Canadians are tapping their home equity very rapidly, and at a time it could be dangerous for them. At the start of the pandemic, the annual growth rate doubled, and nearly tripled for personal use. Considering the abrupt nature of a pandemic, it’s expected to see homeowners tap home equity. That’s what it’s there for. That doesn’t change that higher debt levels make households more vulnerable to shock.”

Trevor Tombe explains why Canada might need a temporary COVID-19 tax and repayment fund.

Wondering what it’s like to fly during the pandemic? The Prince of Travel shows what it’s like in the “new normal”:

My Own Advisor Mark Seed asks an insurance expert whether he should renew his expiring term life insurance policy.

Of Dollars and Data blogger Nick Maggiulli explores the depth of privilege:

“But privilege goes beyond growing up with wealth or having more opportunities than others.  Privilege is in the color of your skin, the community you grew up in, and so much more.”

Dale Roberts from Cut the Crap Investing looks at changes made to the TSX 60 Index to explain why index investing works.

Financial advisor Jason Pereira takes a critical look at the self-directed investing platform Questrade and some of its misleading advertising claims.

This Forbes article takes a look at finding your retirement paradise.

Tim Hortons is logging detailed location data of customers through its app — and many may not realize it’s happening at all.

Finally, an investigation into the death of a cryptocurrency founder revealed a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $169 million.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone!

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8 Comments

  1. GYM on June 14, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Sorry about the cancelled trips. That’s a lot of Aeroplan points. I have around 70k right now and just applied for another credit card to get some more Aeroplan points. I hope that we will be able to travel again in 2021 or 2022. The one silver lining is that there are some good travel deals with free flexible cancellation. We picked up a 7 night package in the Maldives. Hopefully that resort survives the pandemic!

  2. Maria @ Handful of Thoughts on June 14, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Like you we are sitting in a ton of travel points (although not quite as many as you have). With the uncertainty of travel in the future we are also shifting to a cash back credit card. I’m saving up all our PC points to get free groceries for a month or 2 at the end of the year.

  3. Lorne on June 14, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    I am a resident of Ontario. I always obtain travel medical insurance as I go away to Florida for 4 months every year. I have started getting quotes and ALL companies will NOT COVER (i.e. insure) if one gets COVID-19. I guess I won’t be going away this year.

  4. PETER on June 14, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    I’m thinking of exchanging my US dollars back to Canadian in a RBC Direct Investing account. Do I just do a reverse of Norbert’s Gambit? Purchase DLR.u on my US$ account, switch to my CAD account, and sell DLR?
    Thank you.

  5. Judy Gundlock on June 14, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    I cancelled a trip to Vancouver Island in August also. I just don’t think I will feel comfortable flying until there is a vaccine for covid. It is within driving distance, but as a solo traveler that just didn’t appeal to me. So, a cabin on Mara Lake is my vacation this year.

    I also cancelled my October trip to France. Hopefully in 2021.

  6. Cheryl on June 14, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    That’s too bad your travel plans are cancelled, but people are still moving around. BC probably won’t be a problem to travel to. I’m not out that much in my car, but in the past week I’ve seen cars with license plates from Washington, California, Colorado, Alberta, and Prince Edward Island. Driving here would be better than flying.

  7. Andrew on June 15, 2020 at 10:03 am

    My wife and I are snowbirds….but we go to Mexico, have a nice Casa there, and spend normally 6 months (Nov to May). Of course when COVID-19 hit with a vengeance in mid-March, all international flights were either cancelled or postponed. Our flights were thru Aero Mexico (direct flight from Mexico City to Toronto was cancelled and eventually Aero Mexico re-started flights in early June)….as we rather fly OVER the USA and not INTO the USA, eliminates a lot of hassles with US Homeland Security etc.
    We finally left on June 4th Guadalajara to Mexico City, this flight was ‘packed like sardines’, had to wear a mask, use lots of sanitizers, and had a temperature check….stay over night at the only airport hotel NH Hotels)….spotlessly clean, and obeying all the protocols regarding protection from COVID-19….only Room Service available etc….departed for YYZ (Toronto) the following morning @8:00 and again wear a mask, again temperature check, NO FOOD except a sealed package of cookies (that’s it for a 5 hour flight), and a choice of bottle water or tin beer (fortunately we knew in advance of this situation, and order a take-out meal thru the hotel’s room service and took it on the flight)

    Arrived in YYZ, surprisingly NO temperature check?, yes, hand sanitizer available, and a mask to be worn upon arrival and throughout the airport terminal and of course the completion of several questionnaires regarding where you are travelling from and your health conditions etc. and the penalties $$$ for answering any question untruthfully …

    We are currently in quarantine….finish this on Friday June 19th…HOORAY !! BUT honestly still not much going on here…yes grocery shopping, still NO restaurants opened here in the GTA area, ONLY take-out or pick-up, no Fitness Centres, a few parks here and there…..for all intensive purposes, still very much in a ‘lock-down’…..frankly better off in MEXICO where one far more mobile etc….here I feel the Medical Community has high-jacked the dialogue and being far TOO restrictive….like ‘we’ are ALL being punished etc.

  8. John in Edmonton on June 15, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    “Will airlines continue to leave the middle seat open and operate at 70% capacity or less? What impact will that have on airfare?”

    Good question. And what impact will it have on the value air miles?

    Sorry that your trips were cancelled. Mine too. But it seems like staying at home is as risky as travelling. So many people have stopped social distancing, and mask-wearers have become more rare. Sigh.

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