Travel resumed as vaccination rates increased, COVID-19 cases declined and people were ready to leave town. But with travel costs on the rise and the pandemic still with us, summer vacation travel is mixed this year. Here are some considerations when making plans.
Airlines are struggling to recover from equipment and staff cuts made during the pandemic. The economic lesson is that with reduced supply and increased demand, prices have risen. But you might be able to save some money if you do your homework.
• Travel agencies can help you find options, understand the risks and benefits of purchases and decipher the jargon, including non-changeable, non-refundable, flexible exchanges, use of frequent flyer benefits, etc. .
• Flexible departure and return dates can help you find deals.
• If you use or plan to use a particular airline, sign up to receive e-mail offers from that airline.
• If you book your own flights, plan ahead. Check the sites regularly for offers. If you buy, find out if you can change your ticket if a cheaper option comes along on the same airline.
• If you are using a travel website for booking, make sure you understand the booking, refund and change policies.
• If the airline changes or cancels a flight, know your rights. Will it cover meals in case of delay, put you in a hotel for the night, book you on another airline?
• Be your own problem solver. While queuing at the customer service desk after a problem, you and anyone in your group can be on your phone looking for solutions.
• Pack snacks and/or meals.
A quick search for train travel on the Internet yielded many options for adventures. You can book travel yourself on Amtrak or find travel packages with travel companies that include meals and tours or independent travel. The above list for homework also applies to trains.
• Amtrak’s website, amtrak.com, says it has “over 500 destinations”.
• Beds are available.
• Find discounts for family groups, seniors, military, veterans, groups and more.
• Depending on the trip, the scenery can be spectacular. If it’s a family trip, plan activities to keep everyone busy.
Greyhound is not your parents’ or grandparents’ bus. The greyhound.com website says the new buses have Wi-Fi, individual power outlets and extra legroom. There are also private bus companies offering specific destinations and routes. Do your homework to understand your purchase.
Road trips are perfect for vacations closer to home. New Mexico and our neighboring states have a lot to offer. Many family memories were created during a road trip!
You have many choices. Prices are up, but deals can be found. Hotels and motels offer a wide choice. VRBO (vacation rental by owner) and Airbnb offer options ranging from condos to entire homes, studios to multiple bedrooms, kitchenettes to full gourmet kitchens. Many people have purchased RVs during the pandemic, and some may be offering rentals to others. Camping ranges from rustic to glamping. Internet searches offer a multitude of options.
• Use established and well-known sites for booking.
• Know the change or cancellation policies.
• Don’t forget camping reservations.
National vs Foreign
Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation and travel requirements before you travel. States and local authorities may have their own requirements. Countries may have their own entry and exit requirements.
Effective June 12, the CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States (U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and immigrants) to present a COVID-19 virus test negative or documented recovery from- COVID-19 prior to boarding their flight.
Non-U.S. citizens who are not immigrants (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, or traveling to the U.S. on an immigrant visa) will need to show proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID -19 before traveling by air to the United States from a foreign country.
The CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks on indoor public transportation.
Vacations are an investment of time and money. You buy car insurance in the hope of not having a car accident. Travel insurance can give you similar peace of mind for your vacation. The cost of travel insurance has increased. Review medical reimbursement plans, trip interruptions or delays and cancellations. Look at reviews as well as financial ratings. There are websites that offer comparisons of insurance plans. Although not an endorsement, friends have used squaremouth.com.
Go have fun, take lots of pictures and send a postcard to a friend.