After years of being shut down and isolated, 2022 was the first year that people could travel with some sense of normalcy since the pandemic started in 2020. Many borders and businesses reopened, families reunited, and people returned to work in the office. While the year brought about a freedom that people had been yearning for, it also brought about one of the worst travel meltdowns in airline history, and increased travel costs that remain steadily on the rise. If the travel disasters that made headlines in 2022 have been deterring you from taking a trip this year, read on for some tips to avoid travel mishaps in 2023!
Prepare for Increased Travel Costs
The airports have been chaotic lately, but is driving worth it with the soaring gas prices? Hotel rates are on the rise, and even the cost of food has increased significantly. Inflation, coupled with the labor shortages left over from the pandemic, are two major factors contributing to the rising cost of travel. If you’re thinking about taking a trip this year, you’ll need to plan ahead for these increased costs, as well as any unexpected costs that may arise while you’re away.
First and foremost, knowing how and when to save and splurge is important. For example, a nonstop flight might be worth splurging for if it can save you time and hassle. Layovers and transfers take time away from your trip, plus you’re more likely to lose your luggage if you have multiple connecting flights. While splurging on a direct flight may be costly, it could be worth it, especially if you choose to fly economy. Flying economy versus first class can save you hundreds of dollars. The money you’d spend to upgrade your seat could be money spent elsewhere on your trip. If you indulge meaningfully and find out how you can avoid wasting money, you’ll get more out of your trip and won’t have to worry as much about buyer’s remorse.
Another way to save is to find ways to make your money work for you. Many people opt to use travel credit cards, which can help you save on fees and earn points towards travel expenses. Others use hotel rewards programs, which often offer cheaper rates than you can find online. Certain airlines have frequent flyer programs that allow you to redeem airline currency for things like flights and lodging, and even offer their own travel credit cards. Alternatively, some people choose to rent out their homes as a form of passive income while they’re away. To do this, you may consider refinancing your mortgage to adjust your loan term and interest rate. If you can secure a lower interest rate and monthly payment, it might be possible to generate enough earnings from renters to fund your trips and pay down your home loan. You could potentially make serious money renting out your property while you’re not using it, especially if it’s located near a popular tourist destination.
Secure Your Transportation
It’s no secret that the aviation industry has been facing challenges in the post Covid-19 era. Airlines’ on-time arrivals rates haven’t been this poor in years, and people are pushing for updated infrastructure and internal software to better prepare for future travel disruptions. Unfortunately, it takes time to develop and implement new systems, and airlines are still reeling from the pandemic, which is considered to be one of the worst crises in the history of commercial aviation. All things considered, this begs the question– how can you be sure your airline won’t strand you like the thousands who were left in airports this past holiday season?
While airline cancellations can’t be avoided entirely, it’s possible to improve your chances of having a successful flight if you learn which airlines tend to arrive on schedule most often, and offer the most flights throughout the day. While past performance can’t guarantee future performance, an airline’s on-time arrivals rate is usually a good indicator of their reliability, with the exception of bad weather. Furthermore, if an airline offers multiple flights per day, there’s a better chance they’ll be able to rebook your flight and get you to your destination in a timely manner in the instance your original flight is cancelled. The second most common cause of delay is because of a plane’s late arrival from its previous destination, so try booking the earliest flight of the day to avoid this domino effect.
Regardless of what airline you fly with and when you choose to travel, make sure you stay informed of your flight status and understand your rights and what you’re entitled to, if your flight is delayed or canceled. Given that airlines aren’t legally required to offer you much help, it’s always smart to book refundable travel accommodations and have a backup plan for alternative transportation. Depending on the details of your trip, you might even want to consider purchasing travel insurance as an extra precaution.
Book Your Stay Before– Be Prepared for After
So far in 2023, hotel prices are expected to rise over 8%. In order to find the best, most affordable accommodations for your trip, start by browsing trustworthy booking sites. Oftentimes, these sites scour the web to compare the best deals available, and can save you time and money in your search. While they’re helpful, don’t limit your search to just booking sites; short-term homestay and vacation rental companies like Airbnb and Vrbo can have great deals, too! You’ll just want to be sure that where you’re staying has all the accommodations you need, because sometimes privately owned vacation rentals won’t provide basic amenities, such as sheets and blankets.
Prior to Covid-19, you only had to plan for lodging accommodations for the duration of your trip. Since the start of the pandemic, many travelers have found themselves stranded and isolated after testing positive for the virus and being forced to quarantine at their vacation destination. These people have no choice but to stay behind while their friends and family travel back home, and sometimes are stuck for weeks at a time until the quarantine period is up, or until they test negative. This situation can wreak havoc on your trip’s logistics and budget if you don’t consider what you’ll do if you get sick while away from home, and where you’ll stay in that instance. You’ll also need to consider where you’ll seek medical care and how you’ll cover those costs, if they end up being necessary.
Create a Travel Plan
Whether it be forgetting a necessary item, packing the wrong clothing for the weather conditions, or recording the wrong travel information, many of the most common mistakes travelers make can be avoided with careful planning! As soon as you know where you’ll be traveling, start out by researching what documentation and vaccinations are necessary for your trip. Do you need to update your passport, or schedule an appointment with your doctor? Keep all of this information on record and on hand. If you’re a bit old-fashioned, or you’re traveling in a place where you might not have access to your phone or internet, you can even create an organized travel binder containing all the necessary information for your trip.
Once you’ve booked all of your flights, ground transportation, and lodging, create an itinerary of bucket list activities. Research the area and narrow down what it is that you’d really like to do on your trip. After you decide what you’ll be doing, you’ll be able to make a thorough packing checklist, so you don’t forget anything important. Remember to look into the weather patterns and forecasts in the area, and check if there are any dress codes at the establishments you plan to visit. Wait to finalize your packing list until you’re a week or two away from your trip so that you have the most up-to-date weather and itinerary information!
Ideally, you’ll have at least a few months to prepare to travel. There’s a lot to consider beyond what was listed above, and each trip is unique! Nonetheless, if you’re leaving in a hurry, that’s fine too. With careful budgeting and planning, you can do your best to avoid common travel mishaps and be on your way to enjoying a trip this year. If you have questions about getting a passport or a visa for your trip, contact us and let us know how we can help!