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Changes on the Covid front

With a vaccine the travel picture may improve. I would like to know if will Rick will be updating the tour schedule to earlier dates in 2021?

Posted by
2643 posts

In our Zoom video last Monday, Rick indicated that it seemed like fall would be the earliest possible. At least that was my impression. You could call the office and find out.

Posted by
2 posts

I did not see the Zoom video but my main thought was to look at the travel picture 3 or 4 month from now.

Posted by
17881 posts

Everything I've read about the number of vaccine doses expected to be available in early 2021 suggests not enough people will have been vaccinated by March or April to make a significant-enough difference in the spread of the disease to really improve the international-travel situation. Remember, everyone receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines needs two doses, and we don't know yet about Johnson & Johnson, given that the company going to start a two-dose trial. There's at least a 3-week wait for the second dose, and the reported 94% immunity is not immediate; I believe that takes an extra week or two.

I figure many of the early vaccine recipients will not be going to Europe early in the year (if at all) because they fall into one of these categories:

  • Folks who are very elderly/ill/immunocompromised (many currently too ill to travel)
  • Folks living in care facilities (many too frail to travel ever)
  • Medical people (likely encouraged to postpone time off from work until the pandemic has somewhat abated)
  • Essential workers (a substantial percentage of whom are not well-paid enough to afford European vacations)

I'm a healthy 69-year-old. The NYTimes estimates I'm in line behind 118.5 million other Americans. Those folks will presumably receive the first 237 million doses of vaccine (unless a single-dose vaccine comes into play). And my cohort seems to include about 150 million people (not sure who all is included in my group, but a 64-year-old is behind 268.7 million people), who will need up to 300 million additinal doses of vaccine (depending on whether we get a single-dose vaccine approved for use in time to help this group). There's no reason to assume I will be at the front of that 150-million-person group of vaccine seekers.

Now, those may be worse-case numbers for me, because we all assume quite a lot of folks won't want to get the vaccine right away. In addition, that estimated number of people in front of me may include children and teens with risk factors, who probably won't be given the vaccine early in 2021, pending testing on that age group. Every state can set its own priorities, so the NYTimes estimation tool is ver imprecise. Still, those numbers don't line up well with with vaccine supply. And is there anyone who thinks we won't run into any hiccups because of supply-chain problems or implementation issues?

I still hope to travel next year, but I don't think Rick is being excessively cautious about the timing of group tours. I travel solo, and I am by no means ready to book a flight (even a non-refundable flight) in May or June.

Posted by
620 posts

Please do not call RS and waste their time- they are running with a greatly reduced staff. Rick’s hopeful tour dates are listed on the tour web pages. The RS office is NOT going to give you any top secret, wink-wink inside information. The real issue is NOT earlier dates (NOT GOING TO HAPPEN) but if they are able to keep the hopeful dates in the fall.

Johnson and Johnson is hoping to submit for vaccine approval by the end of February. That would give the US 3 sources of vaccine material. If everything works PERFECTLY the US may be able to immunize 80-90 million people by sometime in April. That amounts to less then 30 % of the US population. Far below herd immunity of 70% needed. The US is looking at June or July to get to that number.

France is hoping to get 1 million frontline medical and nursing home inhabitants injected by the end of February; with another 14-15 million vaccinated by the end of June. Thus 15-16 million people out of a population of over 66 million - barely 25%. The rest of Europe is on similar schedules.

Individual travel may open (museums, restaurants, etc) aka fully open by mid to late summer. Placing 30 people on bus and jammed together in small restaurants- not gonna happen until the fall, if even then.

These vaccines are fantastic but I’m afraid too many people think the world operates on 2 day Amazon Prime. This vaccine roll out is going to take a year to fully cover the world. Major European tourist sites open for individuals by this summer have a good shot. Group tours- no.

Posted by
1123 posts

And what if we need an annual booster? That would also impact supply. I’m hoping for 2022 travel.

Posted by
4696 posts

No doubt the key factor will be Covid case loads both here and there over the next six months or so.. Covid case loads fell drastically in Europe over the summer of 2020 - but because case loads remained much higher in the US all year, they did not allow Americans entry into Europe without a 14 quarantine (with a few odd exceptions).

If enough Americans get vaccinated, then our Covid case loads will fall dramatically in 2021, and then the Europeans (assuming their case loads have fallen also) will probably allow us back in without a quarantine. If not enough Americans take the vaccine, though, our case loads may linger at higher numbers for a lot longer.

Posted by
255 posts

acraven, I,too,am a healthy 69 year old. I was wondering if you are feeling any "tik-tok" as far as age and travel. I know we can't do much about it but I never thought I'd be thinking this way!! Guess I need a pep talk!!😬🙄😄

Posted by
17881 posts

Yes, I definitely feel as if I'm losing precious time, but there's nothing I can do about that except try to stay safe for now and gather information for future trips so I'll be ready when the time comes. My family and friends are being hyper-cautious; we're sort of reinforcing each other's solitary behavior, I suppose. But I'm still not seeing them in person.

Posted by
255 posts

Very same here. 👍 Good to know I have company! Haven't seen my grandsons in months. Thanks.

Posted by
12133 posts

When I can see and do something I will enjoy, I am on my way. My hope is that May will be like last September at worst. If thats the case I have plans.

Posted by
9074 posts

acraven, you may want to look at taking the NYTimes test again. (After health care workers and essential workers, people over 65 are the next in line along with those who have risk factors.) I took it, and I'm younger than you, and it said I am behind 23 million people in the U.S. I'm retired and not a health care worker but I do have a risk factor for Covid. I'm expecting to get my shot at Walgreens probably sometime in March.

Also note in the NY Times article, in big letters, the word "opinion." Its not fact, just their opinion.

Posted by
16809 posts

No, earlier tour dates will not be added back to the 2021 schedule. The decision to cancel departures before August means that associated reservations in Europe are also being cancelled.

Posted by
517 posts

We do not expect to see any vaccines available for our demographic in Boise , Idaho, until at least summer 2021, more likely late fall. There are, clearly, many tens of millions of higher risk human beings who should get theirs before we get ours. Then we wait till the rest of the mask-wearing, vaccine-taking global citizens do the right thing and then we stay masked/distanced and get our seasonal flu and covid boosters for the next two years while we wait for some form of herd immunity to set in and hope for no freaky virulent mutations. So much depends on intelligence and prudence, not exactly our best character attributes in this part of the country.

I am now assuming I am not traveling to Europe till 2024.

Posted by
720 posts

Well 2024 seems unrealistically pessimistic. There could be a whole new pandemic by then. Or a war, global meltdown, whatever.

I try to be realistic - not too optimistic but not unnecessarily pessimistic either. From all the news stories saying when to expect the vaccinations it sounds like if you are either over 65 or have a preexisting condition you'll probably be able to get the vaccine by the end of March, healthy younger people probably end of June. Obviously there could be glitches and it won't be that soon - but things could go the other way as well and more vaccine available (or more likely more people refusing so moving every one up in line sooner).

I hadn't though about what acravan mentioned that individual travel will likely be possible before group travel. As someone who always travels independent that sounds like good news. Perhaps that means opportunity for less crowded travel for a while. I wouldn't book any international travel before late August/September but hopefully by then.... However, I'm trying to be a bit optimistic that a road trip in the US might be doable by spring.

Posted by
1656 posts

2024! Wow, I have no intention of waiting that long to get to Europe. I do think I will get to Europe by mid to late summer. As soon as they let us in, I’m there. Unlike many, I will wear a mask and do whatever it takes.

Posted by
138 posts

Looks like everyone needs some help.

Help! I need somebody
Help! Not just anybody
Help! You know I need someone
Help!

When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone, and I'm not so self assured
Now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you, please, please, help me?

And now my life has changed in, oh, so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But, every now and then, I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I've never done before

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you, please, please, help me?

When I was younger, so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in any way
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured
Now I find I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being 'round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you, please, please, help me?

Help me, help me, oh

1965

Credit to : Lennon John Winston, Mccartney Paul James

Posted by
1113 posts

I'm a 76 year old traveler along with my wife, still able and willing to go but with more cautious planning once the vaccines become widespread. We have concerns about joining groups or taking a cruise with others who may or may not be protected. We can't take the vaccines but both of us have had the dreaded and nearly deadly Covid 19 virus ( my wife spent four days in ICU with blood clots in her lungs, saved only by having a pulse oximeter at home that detected falling oxygen levels) so hopefully immune to further ordeals. After cancelling last summer's trips we look forward to resuming independent travels but with global rescue policies in place since we travel to remote areas, mostly in Africa. Still working on my Zulu and Swahili vocabularies but hoping for renewed and less crowded destinations across both Europe and Africa. FYI -- Zulu is offered at Travlang.com, foreign languages for travelers. Good luck to all and may our hopes become realities.....while I'm still young at heart......

Posted by
2 posts

Good point about independent travel being a safer choice before group travel. In 2017, I took a RS tour of Portugal and two years later the Village Italy tour. Thoroughly enjoyed both tours, but on both, a lot of people got upper respiratory illness. All it takes is one sick person in the group and it spreads like wildfire. You are exposed on the bus and when packed into restaurants. And that was pre-COVID19. It's still unknown whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus. I don't see how group tours can restart without understanding the transmission of the virus, even among vaccinated people. On the other hand, if you travel independently, then you have a lot more control over your exposure. I've always relied on public transportation in Europe, but with COVID19, I'd be more likely to rent a car to cut down on virus exposure. And that goes both ways...what if I get COVID? I don't want to be the one to give it to someone else.

Posted by
307 posts

Yes, I definitely feel as if I'm losing precious time, but there's
nothing I can do about that except try to stay safe for now and gather
information for future trips so I'll be ready when the time comes.

I am also in that boat. I figure I have XX years left and then I will 'slow down'. I am using this time at home to help improve myself. I am studying some Italian, eating healthier meals I prepare myself and getting far more exercise than I ever did in my 50's and early 60's when I was still working. Despite a few small health issues, I am basically sound for the most part. Just don't expect me to carry and throw that big phone pole around like the Scotsmen do.

Luck is created when opportunity meets preparation. The opportunities are not there at the moment, but I can prepare.

Posted by
14 posts

This spring, summer, and fall are going to be extraordinary travel times for those healthy and on the younger side (under 55). Tourist crowds will be lighter. There will most definitely be group tours (probably not RS, but definitely travel groups will run) but also lots of solo tourists. People are already traveling to and enjoying resorts domestically. European travel is not too far off for many. Probably lots of 20-40 year olds will be ramping up their international travel plans. It will be a glorious and a unique travel experience for those in the right demographics – a special and wonderful situation that may never happen again.

Posted by
72 posts

I suspect we will need a vaccination passport and perhaps an antibody or COVID test to travel again. I travel with my sister. As we live in different regions and are slightly different ages, we fall into to different categories according to our states' plan. I'm cautiously optimistic for summer but if countries won't let us in, then that's that. Over Christmas, my sister saw a program on a place that really appealed to her. To amuse myself, I'm figuring out an itinerary covering that. So, two trips are backlogging but it makes me happy to plan. My New Year's wish is that we don't need to do staycations again this year!

Posted by
307 posts

If our leaders at all levels don't speed up the vaccination process, we will be stuck at home for another year. I keep hearing and seeing PSA's (public service ads) encouraging me to get the vaccine. But, I can't even signup to find out where I am in the waiting line for another week or two. The message and the reality on the ground are two different things. Not a good way to start.