So you’re ready to travel, and you’re pretty confident that you’ve thought through all of the details.
We asked local Debbie Pham, certified luxury travel specialist at Live Travel in Pasadena, to share some of her secret (and not-so-secret) tips for successful travel in a mostly vaccinated world. Turns out, we’d missed a few details and learned a thing or two.
Buckle up, travelers, here we go.
Your passport —You thought you had it handy but then you couldn’t find it. You thought it would still be valid until the gate agent denied your boarding at the airport. You swore you checked everyone’s but forgot the youngest ones. The dog chewed it. The list goes on.
Hard check your passport for the expiration date and pointedly store it safely somewhere you can find it quickly without fail. The expiration date is valid for at least six months past the dates of any planned international trips. Passports have a useful lifespan of up to 10 years so it is easy to forget the renewal date, especially when they are not used frequently.
If you can not renew the passports in time for domestic flights, REAL ID has been extended to May 3, 2023.
Plan in detail in advance, even far in advance—The cost of travel has increased due to the rising cost of being compliant with COVID-19 protocols. The surge in travel is resulting in demand higher than suppliers are able to meet, says Pham. Pricing and availability can adjust quickly and by a large margin at the slightest policy change.
It is becoming a normal trend for booking to go as far in advance as 2023. Low deposits and flexible cancelation options offered by travel suppliers better leverage your chance of traveling than facing sold-out trips. You will be guaranteed space while others search for availability.
Reserve the car, first—The pandemic has forced car rental companies to let go the majority of their fleets resulting in a shortage of cars for the current level of demand, as Pham points out. The situation could last two years.
Before reserving your flights and hotels, says Pham, be certain you have a car if your trip will require one. Call to confirm your booking and the quoted price as they could change when you pick up the vehicle. Craigslist and U-haul pickup trucks and cargo vans have been the latest and most popular alternatives.
Avoid Direct Airport pickups—Due to the shortage of drivers and new regulations for Uber/Lyft at the airports, fees have seen an increase as much as four times the normal amount for pick-up inside the airports such as Los Angeles International Airport, warns Pham.
Pre-arrange your pick-up. The cost of taxis has been lower than that of Uber/Lyft. If you must use Uber/Lyft, it is ideal to select a location outside of the airport which could offset the price from $160 to $40 one way. It could be a hotel across the street or a parking facility nearby. These locations often have a free airport shuttle available to travelers.
Choose direct flights—Given the dynamic situation of COVID-19, it is best to book direct flights whenever possible since travelers must comply with the requirements of the country of stopover. A connection where no transfer of plane or however short the transfer between gates could still be subjected to the country’s protocols.
If a connection is inevitable, the layover is best in-country. A longer connection gives peace of mind if the previous flight is delayed.
Travel Insurance—Travel insurance pays more than the bills should you require medical treatment during the trip. Medical services could be a simple doctor visit to the hotel or a helicopter transfer to the nearest medical facility.
The value is also in the assistance to find the nearest medical facility to your location and one fitting your needs and insurance coverage. The service agent acts as a liaison to coordinate and translate services.
The right insurance policy—When things go wrong, what’s your plan? An unexpected break in plans could break the bank. Choose the policy most fitting for your needs. Equally important is the travel insurance company used in the purchase of the policy.
Always read the fine print or consult your Travel Advisor.
Flexibility and Patience go a long way—The demand for travel has left everyone in the industry overwhelmed. The world is adjusting as fast as it possibly could to the surge post-pandemic. Stay flexible with backup plans. Pack some extra patience with you as many airports, hotels, and restaurants likely don’t have enough help. Work with a professional travel advisor to help you navigate the new landscape of post-pandemic travel.