Much has changed in the travel world since the days before the 2019 pandemic. Even if it looks like your life is about to return to normal – you’re back in the office, going without a mask, and your social calendar is busy once again – the travel industry is far from normal.
Almost everything to do with travel has changed. You will likely need to book your trip in a different order and customize not only your whereabouts but how you get there.
Here are the biggest changes to expect when planning a trip in this COVID-19 era:
1. Book your rental car before your flight
Rental cars are in high demand as a return trip, but according to AutoSlash, a car rental website, supplies are low due to massive vehicle sell-offs during the pandemic. Many travelers report receiving offers on flights only to find that rental cars are sold out.
Before buying an airfare, make sure that rental cars are available at an acceptable price.
And in general, it’s a good idea Reserve your rental car as soon as possible. Most car rental companies allow you to reserve in advance without paying a prepayment. Get a rate as soon as possible, as rental car prices are likely to keep rising.
2. Redeem points and miles now
Reward devaluation has always been a problem among point and mile nerds. In 2020, United increased the prices of award flights, making the points worth less. Delta also made similar devaluation changes in 2021. You weren’t the first and won’t be the last.
For example, a flight that cost 100,000 miles in 2019 could cost you 110,000 miles in 2021. While you should probably be saving and investing some of your money, most travel experts agree. Save airline miles and hotel points is not a good idea as they generally lose value over time.
3. Anticipate the disappearance of amenities and services that you are used to
Most of the hotels have given up their breakfast buffets at the height of the pandemic, and many will never return. Other amenities and services have also been changed or cut entirely. In some hotels, housekeeping is only available on request – if you omit this extra step, no one will come to make your bed or empty your rubbish.
When it comes to air travel, many airlines have cut the food and drink service on board. First and business class travelers can experience even more significant service losses. For example, JetBlue Mint, the airline’s first class airfare, eliminated the hot towel service and espresso drinks.
4. Be open to alternative accommodation and transportation options
If these discounted service offerings have rubbed you the wrong way, or you just might not be ready to step into a crowded airport or hotel, alternative travel options should be considered. RV road trips are all the rage this year, and sites like the outdoorsy peer-to-peer rental market make it relatively easy to rent a motorhome.
Consider Holiday apartment if you are traveling with a larger group or want to avoid hotel crowds. And when rental cars sell out, look to rental car alternatives like Turo, Getaround, or even limousines to make sure you still have a car.
5. Consider less visited “second cities”
It seems like everyone is trying to make up for the lost vacation in 2020, so many domestic tourist destinations are more crowded than ever. Go off the beaten path to a “second city“Which is a lesser known destination near a busy one. Not only will you avoid the crowds, but your travels can also help support a city that is slowly recovering from the pandemic.
6. Understand the guidelines for pets
Between quarantine kittens and pandemic pups, it seems like everyone adopted a pet last year. If that is you, make sure you know the pet guidelines before bringing any furry travel companions. Stay overnight in a hotel with your pet can be difficult; Many hotels impose additional fees for pets, limit the size of pets that can be in the room, or have strict rules about unattended pets.
In addition, many airlines also charge high fees for traveling with pets, and they usually have strict size rules as well.
7. Accept that international travel poses challenges – even if you are vaccinated
While most US cities are open to travelers with few restrictions, this cannot be said for Trips abroad. Even if you’re vaccinated, some countries will only let you in if you agree to quarantine, while others require a negative COVID-19 test to get in.
And remember, you will need to have a negative COVID-19 test to enter the US again
If you are planning a trip soon
Travel has changed. Not all changes are bad; actually there is a lot of changes that we would like to stay. Whether it’s improving airline cleanliness standards or expanding outdoor restaurants and closed streets, there’s a lot to like about our future travel together.
But much of what you are used to is gone. Don’t worry if the hotel’s housekeeping is not there every day, the breakfast buffet no longer exists or the rental cars are already sold out. You may find that some changes – a brown bag breakfast so you get out on the road earlier, or a driver versus renting a car – are more enjoyable anyway.
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