Travel is going to be complicated this summer, and thinking that you can go back to the way you vacationed before 2020 could be a costly mistake.
“Travelers are taking a lackadaisical approach to travel” as restrictions loosen up, says Manny Fernandez, vice president of global operations of FocusPoint International, a global assistance company for travelers. “They aren’t paying attention to the basics of travel preparation as they did pre-pandemic.”
For all the out-of-practice vacationers, here’s how experts say you can avoid the biggest summer travel pitfalls of 2022.
Don’t wait to book your hotel
Amy Jones, a travel adviser based in Rock Hill, S.C., says that great hotel, AirBnB or VRBO deal isn’t coming this summer. Most hotel rooms and vacation rentals are already close to being sold out in high-demand areas. Even if you’re thinking of postponing your vacation until October or November, you’ll still find high occupancy levels.
Research health and safety
Anyone traveling this summer needs to do a deep dive on health and safety at their destination, says Carrie Pasquarello, chief executive of Global Secure Resources, a security consulting firm. That includes researching crime, the risk of contracting the coronavirus and other potential hazards. If you’re traveling internationally, she recommends starting by looking up your destination on the State Department’s Travel Advisories page and checking its coronavirus testing requirements on Sherpa, a database of travel restrictions. You can look up any health-related restrictions by U.S. state here.
Don’t forget the basics
For many Americans, it’s been a while since their last vacation. And that means they’re a little out of practice when it comes to travel.
Rani Cheema, chief executive of Cheema’s Travel, a culinary travel agency, says the basics are simple. Make sure you have at least six months of validity left on your passport. “If your passport expires within six months of your departure, you need to renew it immediately,” she says. And “constantly” check your flights, paying close attention to any emails or text messages you receive from your airline. “There’s a high chance that your flight has changed due to the lack of crew, pilots or even seats sold,” she says.
Don’t assume your plans won’t change
“Travel regulations, along with airline and event schedules, are still in flux,” warns Kimberly Greulich, founder of KG Travel Club, a luxury travel agency. Travel restrictions may feel as if they’re over, but the effects are still with us.
Greulich also says you shouldn’t assume that every amenity at an airport or hotel will be available this summer. Labor shortages may mean restaurants are operating with reduced hours. Hotel housekeeping might be unavailable. If there’s something you’re counting on at your destination, ask before you arrive.
Know what your car insurance covers
If you’re renting a car, here’s some expert advice: Talk to your insurance company before you leave. Christopher Seabrook, an insurance agent for Country Financial in Atlanta, says travelers often overlook the specifics of their auto policies, specifically whether they have roadside assistance coverage. “Generally, your auto policy should apply to the rental vehicle while driving within the United States, including your deductible,” he says. “Always read the contract carefully, and ask the rental agent to explain anything if you’re unsure.”
Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer for Elliott Advocacy. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or get help with any consumer problem by contacting him at http://www.elliott.org/help. This story originally appeared in the Washington Post.
© 2022 Christopher Elliott.