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Flexibility is one of the most important things to keep in mind if you’re considering planning travel in 2022. We’re now years into the pandemic, and there are still a lot of uncertainties that can affect your travel plans.
For example, along with the potential of having COVID-19 when you’re meant to travel, there are a variety of other scenarios affecting travel currently, including airline scheduling issues and a lack of staffing.
The most important thing to remember when you book airline tickets, accommodations, or tickets for shows and activities is flexibility.
With that in mind, below, we talk more about what to know as far as travel planning that is truly flexible.
Changing Your Mindset
When it comes to booking travel for 2022, you need to change your mindset. You have to manage your expectations and realize there is a very real possibility that something could come up to disrupt your plans.
Before 2020, the idea of canceling your travel plans was almost unheard of. It was so rare for many of us, in fact, that airlines often wouldn’t accommodate it at all, at least not without a big fee. That’s all changed now.
When you’re thinking about traveling or making plans, you want to be honest with yourself about your comfort level in different activities and your willingness to deal with things that might change.
You might also find that you have to change how you travel. For example, maybe you focus on domestic destinations for the time being rather than trying to go somewhere internationally. You might also move away from booking trips that require you to fly, and instead, you go on a car trip.
You want to choose things that not only make you feel generally comfortable but put you more in control. When you fly, there are so many elements of travel that are out of your hands.
The concept of changing your mindset and rethinking how you travel has led to a lot of changes in the industry in general. For example, under-the-radar destinations have their time to be celebrated by travelers.
Read The Fine Print
Before COVID, you probably didn’t read the fine print when you booked travel plans of any kind. That’s true for most of us, but now, you don’t have the option to skip it.
Before you book absolutely any travel plans this year, read all the details. Make sure you’re very clear on what you’re paying upfront and what the cancellation rules are. For example, some places will let you cancel for a full refund within a certain number of days. Other companies might give you some of your money back, while in different situations, you might not pay anything until you arrive.
If you’re booking multiple elements of your trip, you should keep notes for yourself of all the cancellation policies so that if you do have to make changes, you do them within the required time periods.
If a company you book with has cancellation policies and rules and you sign off on them, you’re going to have little future recourse.
If you have any questions, it’s best to call the companies directly before you commit to anything or book anything.
Along with cancellation policies, the fine print can be important because the services you want or expect might not be available when you travel. It’s also worth a phone call to figure it out before planning anything.
For example, if you’re going to a hotel with a spa, will it even be open? What about the pool or certain onsite dining options?
Skip The Budget Airlines
If you’re going somewhere that requires you to fly, you should try to avoid budget airlines if flexibility is a priority. The full-fare U.S. airlines still have flexible cancellation and change policies in place, and they’ve eliminated fees for making changes as long as you book a ticket that’s above the basic economy fare.
Delta, JetBlue, American, United, and Southwest have all revamped their cancellation and change policies in the past few years.
Budget carriers did offer some flexibility in the height of the pandemic, but they’ve scaled that back, so you’re fairly limited. Budget airlines include Spirit, Allegiant, and Frontier. You might pay less on the front end if you book with these airlines, but if you do need to change your plans, you’re probably going to pay a significant fee to do so.
Don’t Overestimate The Value Of Travel Insurance
Travel insurance can, in some cases, be well worth the money, but you need to be careful here. Travel insurance isn’t going to view the pandemic as an unforeseeable event, so you probably aren’t going to be covered if you have to make changes related to COVID.
Travel insurance will probably only protect you if you have to make changes due to other factors, or you might be able to add “cancel for any reason” coverage.
Consider Plans That Wouldn’t Be Affected By COVID-19
We touched on this a bit above with the concept of traveling by car instead of an airline. Beyond that, there are other ways that you can travel and make plans without worrying that COVID will interfere.
Try to think about things that are least likely to be impacted by restrictions.
An example is renting an entire home versus staying in a hotel. You don’t have to worry about things not available to you when you rent a house or condo.
You could also think about camping or renting an RV.
Again, put as much of your trip within your own control as you can, and take out those unpredictable elements.
A lot of people want to return to traveling after perhaps taking a hiatus for the past couple of years, but it’s a different world to do so. Keep flexibility in mind and give yourself as much wiggle room as you can when you book anything.