do not go there! Expert summer travel tips for your next vacation

It will be a busy summer travel season. And different.

Summer travel advice from the experts varies, too.

Domestic travel will increase 16% from last year, as nearly 75% of Americans plan to travel domestically for their summer vacation, according to a review of Allianz Partners’ Top 10 Summer Destinations. Travel to Europe will increase by 600% compared to last year.

“The gates have opened,” says Valentina Oken, owner of Incognito Global Travel, an Embark Beyond subsidiary. “People are rushing to get out there again. Popular tourist destinations are overcrowded, with few, if any, places available. It will be overcrowded and it will be very expensive this summer.”

I just interviewed 200 of the top travel experts about what lies ahead in travel. Here is the first part of my series, which summarizes what to expect in the next three months.

There are two important takeaways. Covid is not over yet, so you may have to take the test before you leave or when you return.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” says Mahmoud Khan, professor of hospitality and tourism at Virginia Tech. “Caution and patience are still required while planning summer travel.

Travel experts like Patricia Schultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, say Covid could continue to be a factor this summer.

“What we hear – for those who want to listen – is the anxiety and frustration of those who find themselves in various degrees of difficult situations when they reach their destinations – or hours before they return to the United States,” she says.

The second conclusion is that for those brave enough to travel, there will be chaos.

“This summer, flight cancellations caused chaos,” says Bill McGee, senior fellow for aviation and travel at the American Economic Freedoms Project. “Most analysts expect passenger load factors to rise to levels not seen since World War II.”

I asked my panel of experts for the best summer travel advice they hadn’t heard yet. What don’t the professionals say?

  • You don’t want to procrastinate this summer. From airlines to hotels, timing is more important than ever. Specifically, the booking time is right Now.
  • How should you get there? If possible, drive. But if you do have to travel, be prepared to spend more — and put up with long delays and cancellations.
  • When it comes to choosing a destination, stay close to home or go somewhere out of season to avoid the crowds of tourists.
  • Your flexibility and creativity will determine the success of your vacation.

When should I book my summer vacation for 2022?

On this issue, experts are unanimous in their summer travel advice. If you haven’t booked your vacation yet, do so now.

Timing is everything. A recent analysis by Kayak found that flying in the middle of the week will save you the most money domestically. Flights averaged 13% cheaper on Wednesdays. The most expensive day? Sunday, when flights are 15% more expensive.

For international travel, traveling in the morning may help you save money. Flights between 5am and 10am are 22% cheaper than the rest of the day. But the opposite is true for domestic flights. Flying between 10am and 10pm is 12% cheaper than flying early in the morning.

Book your hotels early – and consider paying a little extra. “This will save your vacation and give you and your family the long-awaited and dreamy vacation,” says Sangeeta Sadarangani, CEO of Crossing, a multinational travel agency headquartered in London. “A lot of hotels have a small number of employees and they have new and inexperienced employees working in them.” By paying a little extra for a five-star experience, you are more likely to land in a luxury property where the experienced staff will ensure you have a relaxing time. “The best travel advisors have been visiting hotels and interacting closely with hoteliers, and they have inside information about what’s exciting and what’s not,” he adds.

Make your other reservations now, too. That’s the advice of Cristiano Capote, General Manager at JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa. “One of the things we’ve noticed is that our guests are so eager to travel and back to classic European destinations that they don’t realize that in order to have the best guaranteed experience this summer, they have to go ahead with advance planning,” he says. Plan ahead for restaurant reservations, museum tickets, and private tours. They sell quickly.

Check the expiration dates of your passport. “Many have not traveled internationally for a while and don’t realize that if their passport has expired or is within six months of its expiration, you will be denied entry to certain countries,” says Danny Finkel, TripActions’ chief commercial officer. Also remember that some destinations and international airlines still require masks. “Be sure to check before your flight,” he adds.

How to reach your summer destination 2022

Experts say that corners should not be cut. And if possible, drive.

Skip the budget airlines. This is summer travel advice from Julie Rumhold, consumer analyst at DealNews.com. “Yes, they do offer ridiculously low fares on domestic and international flights,” she says. “But you’ll end up paying in other ways.” At a time when holiday budgets are dwindling due to inflation, the last thing you want is a surprise fee for your trip. “Instead, choose a major airline and only travel at a convenient time, such as during the week, when fares are naturally cheaper,” she adds. “This way, costs for things like snacks and hand luggage are included, and you don’t have to worry about paying extra cash for these items on your flight.” Budget airlines often have very slim schedules and smaller fleets. So if your flight is canceled due to weather or a mechanical issue, you may have to wait days for the next flight on that airline.

You may not fly. “The pilot shortage is real and affecting travel dramatically,” says travel expert Peggy Cleveland, author of 100 things to do in Tacoma before you die. “For example, summer storms cause travel delays every year at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. Add in the shortage of pilots and full planes, and that’s a recipe for what can be a delay of several days.”

Beware of additional insurance requirements. “Despite the current recovery, as part of their Covid policies, some international destinations continue to require tourists to provide proof of travel insurance upon entry,” says Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice. Check before you leave and make sure you have the right insurance.

Where should you go this summer?

This summer, you need to slalom when everyone else is down. At least that’s the consensus of travel experts on summer travel.

Consider an off-season destination. This is what Jessica Bradford did when she was planning summer vacation. “I’m going to Morocco this summer,” says Bradford, who runs a telecommunications company that specializes in lifestyle products and services. “At first, I thought it might be too hot, but when I looked at the temperatures in Marrakech in July, they weren’t far from what they would likely be like here in Los Angeles, where I live. Plus, there would be fewer crowds in the souks. and museums.”

Find an alternate destination. “Instead of trying to squeeze your way to the Amalfi Coast or the French Riviera this summer, go to Greece or southern Spain where there is still space and reasonable prices,” advises Jacques Ezon, who runs luxury travel consultancy Embark Beyond. “Now that Australia is open, consider this summer exploring Australia, or heading to French Polynesia, or even the Galapagos or Peru. There is still affordable space and there’s no better time to explore.”

Do you have accomodation? It became popular during the pandemic. But as Americans begin to travel more, a vacation closer to home may save you money and headaches, according to Warren Gavrian, dean of international education at Endicott College. “So, my advice is to visit your local attractions, support local businesses — and save pennies,” he says.

Summer travel tips: Here are some basic strategies

Experts say you’ll have to take a different approach to planning your summer vacation this year. Once again, flexibility is crucial.

keep things straight. This is especially true of fuel prices, which seem to get a lot of media attention. “Don’t be overly concerned about gas prices,” says Tom Kayden, COO of Visit Alexandria. “As long as you’re not driving cross-country, it’s still a fraction of your total vacation cost.” Instead, focus on more expensive items, such as accommodation, meals, and activities. And if the numbers don’t make sense, you can always cut back on your getaway and travel somewhere closer.

Always have a plan B. “With flights filling up, there is the potential for a canceled flight to severely disrupt your travel plans for days to come,” says Bob Winter, owner of Lake Country Travel. “Always know about backup flights. Take the time to check online the morning of your departure and check out some additional flight options to your destination, preferably with the same airline or one within the same alliance.” A site like Google Flights lets you sort by times, prices, and airline alliances.

Take a shortcut. Some airports have introduced programs that allow you to reserve a spot in line to save time. For example, in Phoenix Sky Harbor, you can use a program called PHX RESERVE to hold a place in line. “This is a free service that allows passengers to book time to get to the security checkpoint line,” airport spokeswoman Heather Shelbrack says. “They can make a reservation up to three days before their flight and when they arrive, go to the designated checkpoint lane for screening.”

And finally, the most paradoxical summer travel tip ever…

Do not travel this summer. “Wait until fall,” says Kimberly Davis, founder of Trouvaille Travel, a travel agency. “Price is too high, availability is low, air carriers are still short on staff at the required levels of demand, and we are in another wave of Covid. And frankly, crowds at most tourist destinations will not only be unpleasant to visit, but over-tourism is causing damage to everyone.” of sites and communities. Her advice? Wait until later to take that dream trip and stay close to home this summer.

Bottom line: This might be summer for a different kind of vacation. But if you go, go without fear. Planning for a worst-case scenario. We hope you never need to use most of our summer travel tips.

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