HOLIDAYS have been left in tatters as countries around the world close their borders and Brits are warned to avoid all but essential travel, both abroad and in the UK.
Thousands of families have been left both out of pocket as well as without their trips.
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Many of the travel bans and restrictions are in place until April and May, although are likely to be extended and people in the UK are warned to stay in their homes unless for essential travel such as for food or medicine.
However, Brits may be questioning whether it is okay to book holidays for the future, such as the winter season this year or even during summer 2021.
EasyJet has launched their winter schedule, with £29.99 flights to Europe from October, and cruise liners are allowing passengers a 48-hour pre-sail cancellation period.
Here is everything you need to know if you are thinking of booking a holiday in the future.
Should I be booking holidays for later in the year?
Booking holidays in the future isn't necessarily a bad idea, according to Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, who said he was still booking his own trips abroad for later in the year.
He previously said on Twitter: "There is no right or wrong answer to this at the moment until we know more about airline schedules and how long travel restrictions will last."
Colum McLornan, MD of singles holiday specialist Friendship Travel told Sun Online Travel that his clients who have had their holidays affected are already asking about travelling from September onwards.
He said: "I know as soon as restrictions lift, there’s going to be pent-up demand for flight seats so while our team is dealing with anxious guests right now, I’m also getting Christmas on sale in the next few days, and 2021 trips as soon as possible."
He added that booking with an ATOL protected holiday company is the best option, as you have "peace of mind knowing your money is safe".
Seamus McCauley at Holiday Extras agreed that booking in the future isn't advised against, thanks to new flexible change policies
He told Sun Online Travel: "Airlines are bringing forward their 2020/21 winter schedule so people can book to fly then.
"That’s sensible for customers who are looking ahead to the end of the current crisis, and good for everyone to have something to look forward to even if it’s towards the end of the year.
"We hope and expect the timescale advised by the government’s scientific and medical experts to prove accurate, and that the virus will be brought under control and things begin returning to normal in about 12 weeks.
"But like most travel businesses we appreciate that people are cautious about making plans until the situation resolves, so we’re glad to see so much flexibility and forward-planning in our industry. "
Caution is still advised, with the unprecedented pandemic meaning travel rules and restrictions could change at the last minute.
Many airlines and cruises are offering free changes and cancellations in a bid to entice holidaymakers to book, with tour operators struggling from profit losses.
Cruise liners including Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are allowing people to book holidays with a 48-hour cancellation policy, offering full credit for the holiday just two days before sailing.
EasyJet are allowing passengers to change their flights free of charge to any date, while Airbnb are offering free cancellations.
How can I protect my future holidays?
The best way to protect yourself from losing money if your trip is cancelled is to book package holidays which include flights and hotels.
This is because they are ATOL-protected, which means any changes to travel advice by the government will mean you are fully refunded.
It also means travellers who are stranded abroad are protected with alternative flights home.
Even if the tour operator you booked through goes bust, you will still be protected.
Rory also added on Twitter: "Use a travel agent, on phone/in person. [They] can often match online prices, but crucially provides person to speak to if something goes wrong.
"Not being able to reach airline/booking site has been main problem for many."
You can also pay by credit card, which offers additional protection. Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
Rory added to Sun Online Travel: "Don’t forget to take out travel insurance too, but you’ll still need to check the terms to avoid any problems."
Travel insurance should always be booked at the same time as a holiday.
We've explained what to look for in your insurance provider, as many are removing coronavirus cover policies.
Policies should cover repatriation, missed departure and medical expenses to make sure you are protected abroad.
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Holidaymakers are being asked to take vouchers over refunds to use at a later date, with the travel industry facing £1 billion loss between March and April.
Brits are being warned to avoid all holidays at the moment, including UK staycations after thousands flocked to seaside towns and resorts over the weekend.
Here is the latest travel advice regarding the pandemic for all countries.
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