So where are you going next? It’s OK to dream about your next vacation if you can’t travel. You’re in good company.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter ...
Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

Rob Hall is here. He skipped his family cruise to Italy this summer but is optimistic that the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak will be over by fall. He’s planning to fly to Maui for a few days in October – at least that’s his dream.

“We so badly need to get away,” says Hall, a retired financial services manager in Walnut Creek.

He’s not the only one. A survey of travelers by Qtrip finds plenty of pent-up demand for travel. A surprising 40 percent of respondents were planning to travel this summer. Another 23 percent are waiting until the fall or winter, and 7 percent are holding off until spring. (And the remaining 30 percent say they don’t have a clue when they’ll travel again.)

“We were surprised to see how many people were undaunted and planning to get out there right away,” says Qtrip CEO Jeff Klee.

This is uncharted territory for travelers. But these future trips are different from the ones we used to take. Our travel dreams are bigger and richer. We’re also buying travel insurance and relying on the continued flexibility of airlines, hotels and other travel suppliers if we want to make schedule changes.

What happens when you sit around and think about travel all day? You make big plans. According to Virtuoso, a network of travel advisers, the top dream destinations for its users since April are South Africa, Italy and Australia.

Julie Kandalec just booked an “epic” adventure next year with her father and brother: a February cruise to the Antarctic. She figures the rates would never be better, and that it will be the safest possible vacation.

“The ship is small and won’t be filled to capacity,” says Kandalec, an expert on nail art who lives in New York. “It’s 100 crew and 200 guests maximum, so that’s key.”

Another thing that’s different this year: travel insurance. A new survey by NerdWallet says 45 percent of travelers are likely to purchase travel insurance for future leisure trips after COVID-19, more than twice as many as before the pandemic. And travelers aren’t buying the cheapest travel insurance – they’re going for the pricey cancel-for-any-reason policies, which allow them to call off their trip and receive a partial refund.

Doreen Welsh, a high school guidance counselor, is among them. She plans to buy the “best” policy for her late-December trip to Aruba.

“We know things can happen,” she says. And Aruba, for all its natural beauty, has a health care system that makes her a little nervous. She says guests with medical issues may get flown elsewhere, depending on the issues. So she’s not taking any chances.

There’s also the uncertainty of the future. It was particularly difficult for Ian Marcus, who was scheduled to travel to Greece for his honeymoon in May. Marcus, a real estate appraiser from Rochester, Michigan, decided to reschedule his vacation for next May.

“But now we have to plan with the knowledge that it could get canceled again, or that there might not be as many attractions or restaurant options available,” he says.

That’s a valid concern. When a country goes on lockdown, all bets are off. Everything could be open one day, and on lockdown the next. That’s life during the pandemic, and you’d better get used to it.

Fortunately, travel companies have remained flexible with their refund and change policies as the outbreak lingers. That gives travelers planning an upcoming trip a little peace of mind.