With international travel a write-off in the near future, Australians are keen to explore their own backyard.

In the COVID era however the possibility of snap border closures are making keen travellers think twice.

But there are things you can do to travel with confidence in 2021 as advised by consumer group CHOICE director of campaigns Erin Turner:

Check the terms and conditions

"Before you book any accommodation, flights, or activities, you should check the terms and conditions that come along with it. This way you'll be able to find out what you're entitled to in the event that you aren't able to go ahead with your trip. Policies can really vary from provider to provider, so it's important to take the time to do this. If you can view a copy of the terms and conditions on a computer, search for phrases such as cancellation policy or refund policy to make things a bit easier."

Travellers from Sydney have their permits checked in the Qantas terminal at Melbourne Airport. Picture: Ian Currie
Travellers from Sydney have their permits checked in the Qantas terminal at Melbourne Airport. Picture: Ian Currie


Get everything in writing

"When you book something like a flight or accommodation, take the time to make a copy of what the terms and conditions are at the time of your booking. One of the easiest ways to do this is to take a screenshot of the relevant section of a policy, or making sure you keep the email containing details of a provider's cancellation policy. Terms and conditions can change quickly, so it's good to have proof of what they were at the time of your booking."

"Sometimes smaller providers like caravan parks or bed and breakfasts might not have their cancellation policy readily available online for you to view. If this is the case, send them an email and ask them what their cancellation policy is, so you have it in writing if you need it down the track. If you book anything over the phone ask for confirmation in writing."

Don't get ripped off by booking sites or agents

"Think carefully before booking through booking sites or agents, rather than directly through a provider like an airline. Do your own research and comparison to avoid getting ripped off. Travel agents or travel comparison websites can make it more difficult to resolve any issues that might arise if you need to cancel or change your travel plans and may even charge huge cancellation fees on top. If something goes wrong, you'll need to be across their terms and conditions, as well as the terms and conditions of the airline or accommodation provider, which can quickly become confusing."

Qantas planes on the tarmac at Sydney Domestic Airport. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi
Qantas planes on the tarmac at Sydney Domestic Airport. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi


Choose consumer friendly operators

"Keep an eye out for accommodation or service providers that will let you pay on arrival or cancel without penalty at short notice. This gives you a lot of flexibility if something goes wrong. The challenges of COVID-19 go both ways and big businesses in particular have no excuse not to implement consumer friendly policies. Some accommodation providers, such as Airbnb, will let you filter your search to find places that offer flexible cancellations."

Learn how to cancel smart

"If the worst happens and your trip gets cancelled, learn how to cancel smart. Know the cancellation policy and if you can, wait to see if the company will cancel first. You don't have to accept the first offer from the provider. Many will try to push you towards a voucher or credit. Ask for a refund anyway, it never hurts to ask."

Originally published as Aussie COVID travel bubble: 5 things you must know



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