If you’re traveling this holiday season, a back up plan is the best plan to have! Even for well-seasoned travelers, 2021 has been unusually trying. There have been a record number of travel disruptions, except, of course for the 2020 travel shut down!
Here are some examples of what I’ve seen so far:
- Airlines shutting down or canceling flights due to staff shortages, technical issues, or weather. For example, Spirit canceled 2800 flights between July 30-August 9.
- Some folks going international found themselves unexpectedly testing positive for COVID-19 during a trip, so they had to quarantine while abroad.
- COVID travel regulations have and continue to change unexpectedly at various times, causing last minute changes to a planned tirp.
- Booking “share” economy (like AirBnB, VRBO for example) is now becoming more common again, but travelers are actually encountering situations where they are “ghosted” by RV or vacation home owners. Or, like I experienced, difficulty with common things like services or WiFi due to staffing limitations.
As Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter holidays approach, the best plan is a back up plan. Here are 5 things you can do to plan ahead.
#1 Purchase Travel Protection Insurance
If you need to cancel your time away from home for any variety of reasons, travel insurance is a great way to protect the money you’ve invested into your trip.
If you think your premium travel credit cards provide quality trip insurance – check. While some will reimburse you for eligible expenses paid for with that card, others have strict limitations. Read that fine print!
If you don’t have a credit card company with a quality level travel insurance, it might be good to contact me to help you purchase a travel insurance policy to take care of not only all the regular reasons you may need to cancel a trip, but with the added the unpredictability of these days, many travel insurance companies have added coverage to handle Covid-related situations to help you recoup the funds if you need to.
#2 Be Ready to Stay Longer
Pack enough to handle a longer than expected trip, even if you’re trying to still avoid checking bags. A 1 day delay wouldn’t affect much, but if you were to, God forbid, test positive for Covid-19, you would need up to 10 days of supplies.
When traveling internationally, make sure you pack extra medications, prescriptions, and other things that aren’t easy to get where you are going.
Over-packing can easily happen when you’re thinking about things like this – so pack versatile clothing that can mix and match to various occasions, and consider bringing items you can wash in the sink and hang to dry.
#3 Pack Light & Be Flexible
Summer of 2021 was especially brutal regarding US air travel. According to the Department of Transportation , 1.7% of domestic flights were canceled in July, compared to 0.8% that same month last year. Also, the July on-time arrival rate dropped from 90.5% to 73.4% comparing 2020 to 2021.
With these additional challenges, you might find yourself catching a different last minute flight, if you’re quick and you don’t happen to have checked any bags. Avoiding checking bags can be useful in a situation like this.
#4 Book Air Carriers with Flexible Change or Cancellation Policies
This may not be the best year to book air with budget airlines. Although airline cancellation and change policies have made much better, basic economy fares still typically aren’t eligible for quick and easy modifications. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you can’t get your money back because you booked the cheapest seats.
For reasonable airfares with great value, if it works for your trip, I’d recommend Southwest Airlines, which has always had one of the best change policies in the industry. The lowest cost Southwest fares can be changed up to 10 minutes before departure time in exchange for a travel credit toward future airfare. This lovely policy was around before COVID-19 was part of the world.
#5 Know Your Alternatives
Since Covid-19 started, many rideshare (like Uber, Lyft) drivers stopped providing these services. These days, Uber says there are more riders than drivers out there, so you may not wnt to count on rideshares. Download several ridesharing apps for the best selection of drivers, estimated wait times, & maybe get to know the local taxi services before traveling.
If you’re going somewhere that requires proof of a negative Covid-19 test result, be aware of multiple places where you can get tested. If your results don’t come back in time, you might have a little stress finding a rapid test. You might take two COVID-19 tests from different sources to ensure at least one returns in time.
The Bottom Line
Even the best, most well planned trips could be canceled, rescheduled, cut short or even unexpectedly extended. That’s because if there’s one thing we can be certain of in the times we live in, it’s that nothing is for certain. To avoid getting stranded, spending extra money or losing luggage, make sure that your overall travel plan includes a backup plan.
Even so, if you are ready to plan your next vacation, click HERE to answer a few quick questions and we’ll get started, and I never, ever place a deposit on a new vacation without offering you the opportunity to protect your hard earned vacation dollars with a comprehensive but well priced travel insurance.