We are free to travel again! Who is ready? Here are some tried and true tips to make travel planning and travel logistics a breeze. Preparation is key!
Sounds obvious right? Well..how about this? I am planning a Big Island Hawaii trip for December 2021 and car rentals were almost gone by June 1st and for the low low price of $1700 for the week!
Going to a National Park this Summer? Plan on the possibility of a 3 hour traffic jams within the park. Yep…I just sat in Yellowstone for 3 hours last week.
Secure flights, cars & accommodations immediately and worry about the excursions and other items closer to your trip.
Tip #2 Consider Waiting until Shoulder Season
We are all ready to get on the road or in the air now, but it might be prudent to wait until the 1st wave is over…(sorry did I just trigger a quarantine memory).
Traditionally September through November is the shoulder season when the weather is still nice and locations are less crowded due to kids being in school.
Prices are also lower, and the odds of booking a place are in your favor.
You will definitely want to wait until Fall to visit a National Park if it is possible.
Tip #3 Use the Best Travel Aggregator Sites
According to Frommer’s Website, the winner of the top ten is a new aggregator called Skiplagged. They mention that some of the original sites like Google flights and Hotwire have had a shakeup.
I still book on Expedia which still offers up competitively priced flights. I also like how the Expedia app organizes travel.
Don’t forget to search Southwest Airlines on their own site. Southwest is my favorite for decent comfort, a generous 2 bags included and no change fees.
Tip #4 Book Rental Cars ASAP
Rental cars have become the real travel planning challenge. During COVID the rental car companies sold their fleets to raise money. Then the supply shortage crisis happened.
Book in advance, and try utilizing apps like TURO where you can rent another person’s extra car. Uhaul is an option… you can bring extra luggage!
Tip #5 Get Global Entry
Take the extra step and sign up and get clearance for Global Entry. Global entry offers entrance into the U.S. in addition to the expedited U.S. departure. It is good for 5 years and only costs $15 more than TSA Pre-check. More bang for the buck.
Add your Global Entry number to each of your airline accounts. The TSA pre-check logo will pop up on your boarding pass.
Many times the short TSA line has saved me from missing a flight. The average wait times are a quarter of those in the standard security lines. It also makes the customs & U.S. re-entry a breeze.
Tip #6 Wear your Mask for the Entire Flight
You’ve seen the news stories. People are still having a tough time with the TSA mask mandates. Hopefully masks will not be required after the September 13th expiration date of the TSA mandate.
But…I really don’t mind the mask for travel. In the past, I have picked up a stomach virus two times after flights. It also helps those passengers who forget to sneeze into their arms… to mind their manners.
Fines are very expensive. I saw a news report recently that someone decided to bring their own alcohol and to not wear a mask. That passenger was fined in the $10,000 range. You can also face jail time. That price tag “kind of” defeats my travel goals.
Tip #7 Have Patience and a Good Sense of Humor & Reduce your Expectations
Let’s just be grateful we are back in action, and that this pandemic is almost over and that it is relatively safe to fly with other passengers.
Arrive early for departure, pack light, and plan on a few things going south. Talk to fellow travelers and enjoy the process. Reduce your travel stress by preparing as much as possible beforehand.
The pain and frustration of travel is just part of the deal sometimes. The fun is sure to come upon arrival at your destination.
I am happy to wait in a few long lines, don a mask, and take a vaccine in the arm to get out and see the World again. How about you?