As the travel industry, beset by COVID-19 restrictions, tries to dig itself out of its gravest crisis since World War II, creativity and flexibility in pricing and timing will be key.
Airlines and cruise lines — two of the hardest-hit industry segments — are trying to lure back potential present and future customers by dropping a variety of fees and allowing for late ticket changes and cancellations, among other incentives.
Now the innovative website Travelstride (formerly StrideTravel) has launched FlexiPass by Travelstride, an industry-first travel pass that can be used for an exciting array of tours for 2021 through 2023. And it comes just in time for holiday gift-giving — but don’t delay: sales end soon.
Travelstride — a U.S.-based marketplace specializing in offering multi-day, multi-destination, expertly planned guided and self-guided trips — has partnered with 23 top global tour operators who will accept the passes.
Travelers can choose among custom luxury planned tour operators (such as Audley), to small group adventures (such as Intrepid), to classic group tours (such as Collette), to walking and cycling trips (such as Explore!), to independent self-guided journeys and river and small-ship cruises as well.
See the full list of operators participating in FlexiPass By Travelstride.
The travel vouchers can be purchased in three tiers, and include bonus savings on the tours:
- $750 voucher, priced at $625 ($125 bonus)
- $1,500 voucher, priced at $1,200 ($300 bonus)
- $2,500 voucher, priced at $1,900 ($600 bonus)
Once purchased, travelers choose a journey that matches their travel style from the selection of about 2,000 packages offered by the tour operators, providing options to visit hundreds of destinations across every continent. (Note that to travel in 2023, you’ll need to pick your trip by January 1 of that year.)
“We recognize everyone’s personal sense of risk varies, and risks will change depending on the location you want to visit,” says Travelstride CEO Gavin Delany.
Delany adds that “FlexiPass is designed to give people enough time to decide to travel when it’s right for them, while encouraging travel decisions earlier rather than later — in part to help travel industry workers and local communities, and in part to help travelers see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Adding to the flexibility, full refunds are available within 90 days of purchase; 10-19 percent cancellation fees apply after that, depending on the timing.
Health, Safety, and Social Responsibility
Health and safety, of course, will remain an issue even in what we fervently hope are the post-COVID days that lie ahead. Each participating tour operator adheres to COVID-safe practices, and they’ll gladly provide specific information on these prior to booking.
All told, Travelstride’s platform hosts more than 50,000 professionally planned trips designed by more than 1,000 global companies and local experts.
Full disclosure: I was Travelstride’s first content director several years ago, and you’ll still find a lot of my writing on the site. One thing I learned is how to tell socially responsible tour operators from the fly-by-nights; Travelstride only partners with reputable companies and travel planners.
Delany explains one of the things social responsibility means to him: “Encouraging bookings now not only helps tour operators stay afloat but also pays local wages and supports travel-dependent communities around the world — essential for sustainable tourism in the future.” Along with time flexibility and savings for travelers, the FlexiPass is a definite win-win for everyone.
To my readers: Please consider staying home for Christmas and New Year’s this year. The post-Thanksgiving rate of infections and deaths from COVID-19 have spiked to all-time highs. We would all like to travel to see family and friends, but now is not the time. Vaccines are on the way and, we hope, our ability to travel will resume some form of normalcy in 2021! Wishing you all a safe and healthy holiday season!