In 2021, as in 2020, the seemingly never-ending Covid-19 pandemic dominated every aspect of public life, from the economy to the arts.
Here at Frommer’s, we covered all the travel-related angles of the ongoing crisis, including reopening borders, reclosing borders, vaccine requirements, mask mandates, the tricky timing of predeparture tests, and whether you should get your proof-of-vaccination QR code permanently tattooed on your body (you should not).
As travel resumed in fits and starts following the shut-in year of 2020, would-be wanderers faced a welter of confusing and frequently changing rules, regulations, and warnings. Things kept shifting due to a series of dramatic developments such as the vaccine rollout (hurray!), vaccine resistance (oh, come on!), the Delta variant surge (yikes!), and, most recently, the emergence of the fast-spreading Omicron variant (what fresh hell is this?).
Covid, Covid, and More Covid
The year put to the test the longstanding commitment at Frommer’s to help make travel accessible to ordinary folks by supplying clear, useful, and accurate info, but we did our best to make sense of the madness.
Clearly, that was a needed service: Half of our top 10 most-read stories published in 2021 dispensed guidance and shared resources from what felt at times like the 24-hour Covid help desk we were running.
We told you which airlines require all passengers to be vaccinated (our 2nd most popular page for the year), how to obtain proof of vaccination for travel (in 4th place—no tattoos required), when it’s safe to hit the road again after getting vaxxed (5th), whether Americans can get the EU’s Covid pass (6th), and which countries welcome vaccinated visitors (9th).
Admit it: You needed us more than ever.
Airlines vs. Airline Customers
Our #1 most-read story of 2021 wasn’t directly connected to the virus, however. That piece, posted in September, had to do with changes American Airlines made to its Conditions of Carriage.
“That sounds really boring,” as Frommer’s editor-in-chief Jason Cochran wrote. But here’s the upshot of the revisions: If your American flight gets severely delayed or canceled, the carrier will issue you a refund but no longer commits to rebooking you on the next available flight.
“The airline can legally strand us far from home,” as Cochran put it.
We’re glad we were able to help spread the word about a development that is bad news for air travelers—just as we’re glad our 8th most popular story of the year, published in July, trumpeted some good news for flyers.
In that post, Pauline Frommer detailed the ways an executive order issued by Pres. Joe Biden last summer promises to make air travel more consumer-friendly, with clearly delineated fees for airfares, fewer monopolistic practices at airports, and rules barring search engines from filtering out certain airfare categories, among other protections.
A Different Disney
Another topic our readers couldn’t get enough of this year: Disney theme parks and the many changes—most of them frustrating—they’ve undergone since the start of the pandemic.
In May, our resident Disney expert—Jason Cochran again, author of Frommer’s EasyGuide to Disney World, Universal & Orlando—turned in our 10th most popular story of the year: a list of 10 things returning guests should know about the Disney experience nowadays that differ from the magical visits of yore. For one thing, you’re going to spend a lot more time hunched over your phone making advance reservations, ordering food, and entering virtual queues.
And speaking of queues, Disney officially killed off its beloved FastPass system over the summer. Introduced in 1999, FastPass let park-goers make free timed reservations for speedier lines at popular attractions. Disney ditched that complimentary service, rechristening each speedy line as a “Lightning Lane” profit center that costs extra to access.
Cochran’s obit for FastPass and birth announcement for the Lightning Lane and its confusing, itinerary-building sibling, Genie+, placed 7th on our most-read roundup.
Happy Nude Year!
G-rated theme parks aren’t the only type of getaway that got attention around here, though. Our 3rd most visited page of 2021 was an etiquette primer we posted in April with rules to follow for going to a nude beach for the first time.
If feeling the ocean on your bare bottom and sand in every crevice is something you want to try in 2022, for heaven’s sake don’t stare at the other bathers in the buff and bring a towel to sit on at the snack stand.
But hey, we’re all for striding boldly into the new year.
The very first Frommer’s guidebook, Europe on 5 Dollars a Day, turns 65 in 2022—and while that might be the unofficial retirement age, we have no plans to stop doing what we do anytime soon.
Not only do we have a fresh batch of Frommer's guidebooks coming out—there will also be new discoveries to share, regulations to untangle, boondoggles to expose, and distant horizons to pursue.
We can’t wait to see where 2022 takes us.
The 10 Most Popular Frommer's Stories of 2021
1. Almost Everyone Agrees: American Airlines’ New Conditions of Carriage Are Bad for Consumers (published September 27)
2. List of Airlines Requiring All Passengers to Be Vaccinated for Covid-19 (published October 7)
3. Nude Beach Etiquette: 7 Rules for First-Timers (published April 16)
4. How Americans Can Obtain Proof of Vaccination for Travel (published June 30)
5. How Soon After Receiving the Vaccine Can You Travel? (published January 6)
6. The EU’s Digital Covid Certificate: Can American Travelers Get One? (published June 8)
7. Disney Officially Kills FastPass, Will Charge Extra to Use the New “Lightning Lane” (published August 19)
8. Biden’s Executive Order Will Make Flying Cheaper and Less Stressful (published July 9)
9. Which Countries Allow Visitors Who Have Been Vaccinated? (last updated July 28)
10. Going to Disney Is Different Now. Someone Should Warn You About These 10 Things (published May 27)