10 ways to make travel planning less stressful – AFAR Media | Gmx Pharm

Has there ever been a more confusing time to plan a trip? Between skyrocketing airfares and a mishmash of mask rules, we understand how overwhelming it can be. So we’re giving you the tools you need to plan a great, stress-free trip and find the sweet relief of being on the road again.

Here are 10 ways to be more prepared when traveling in 2022.

1. Book your trip at least two to three months in advance (more if you are going abroad).

Most experts agree that booking a flight at least four weeks in advance – ideally six to eight weeks before travel – is key to getting a better deal and could save travelers up to 51 percent, reports AFAR aviation correspondent Barbara Peterson. Use the calendar feature offered on search sites like Google Flights; This allows travelers to see the full range of flight prices and select dates when prices are lowest. If you travel a day before or after your originally planned travel dates, you can often get a cheaper fare, says Naomi Hahn, vice president of strategy at bookings site Skyscanner.

Increased demand for outdoor travel (along with more flexible working hours) has all but eliminated the off-peak and off-season in some popular destinations, reports AFAR’s Bailey Berg. “Top destinations are seeing a double-digit increase in hotel demand compared to pre-pandemic – spring shoulder season may be over in some places,” says Nancy Lien, PR manager at Expedia Group, adding that it’s a trend we’re likely to see see will continue this fall. So if you know where you’re going, make a reservation. The cancellation policy is still pretty generous.

Low-cost airlines like French Bee can take you to Europe for less.

2. Set your expectations: Flights are expensive right now, but there are still offers.

Have you caught an $800 round trip flight between, say, New York and Orlando lately? You’re not alone: ​​Thanks to rising fuel prices and increased travel demand, booking app Hopper predicts round-trip domestic fares will average $360 by May, up from $235 in early 2022. International tickets will average $940 in June , up from $650 in January, says Hopper. And kerosene prices, the second-highest spend by airlines after Labor, are likely to remain elevated due to the impact of the Russo-Ukrainian war on energy supplies, Peterson reports.

But don’t be put off. We recently broke down all the ways you can still find a good flight deal in 2022. If you’re willing to take a risk with a new low-cost airline like Breeze and Avelo, they offer cheaper flights that typically undercut the usual major US airlines. Expect to pay a la carte for luggage, seat selection, etc. Pro tip: JetBlue has the largest economy seats among domestic carriers, and La Compagnie offers half-price business class between Newark and France.

3. Use a travel agent

If there was ever a time to find and use a trusted travel advisor, now is the time. Between frequently changing pandemic travel restrictions, potential last-minute changes and cancellations, and the fact that many of us have, uh, somehow forgotten how to flex our travel muscles, a travel advisor is your best ally.

So where do you start? How do you find a good travel consultant? We may be biased, but we believe the travel specialists who make up AFAR’s Travel Advisory Board are some of the best in the business. We constantly turn to them for their expertise and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t either. Another great resource is Virtuoso, a consortium of luxury travel consultants and network that can help you find travel consultants that specialize in the destination or type of trip you are planning, be it a family vacation, a spa vacation, a trip to Europe or a safari in Africa.

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Arches National Park in Utah has a new reservation system for 2022.

4. Reserve the national park/museum/dinner as soon as possible.

We’re in the world of a Type A planner right now. If you would miss activities during your trip – be it a reservation for a museum or dinner, a theme park or a show – book them as soon as you receive your flight confirmation. Restricted or timed entry started in popular locations like Barcelona and Venice before the pandemic and has become a way to limit guest numbers to safe and comfortable levels, including in some of the country’s most popular national parks.

Know that all coincidences are not lost. You may be able to score a day pass due to canceled reservations if you’re willing to take the risk.

5. Pack a COVID test – or several – and talk through your “what if I get COVID abroad” plan.

If you go abroad, you risk being stuck there for more than two weeks if you test positive for COVID. (As of April 21, the US still requires a negative COVID test within one calendar day of entry.) Instead of getting upset about it, come up with a game plan. Make sure you know where you would stay abroad during that extra time if an unfortunate positive test occurs.

As for testing procedures, there are numerous ways to get COVID tests for international travel. Some hotels are offering free COVID testing to guests, particularly in popular tourist destinations like Mexico, and some domestic and international airports (Costa Rica and Germany, among others) will conduct on-site COVID testing.

We recommend packing at least two CDC-approved COVID self-tests per person in case you can’t find a testing location in a pinch.

6. Check the expiry date of your passport (and make sure you also have a vaccination card).

Remember that your passport must be valid for at least six months to enter or exit most countries. Fortunately, if you need to renew your passport, waiting times have decreased significantly compared to last year. We’ve created a handy guide on how to expedite your passport application if you’re in a hurry. If you need a new passport, you can win a cool new Next Generation Passport if you get one.

When traveling you never know when you may be asked to provide proof of vaccination status. Make sure you have the physical copy of your vaccination certificate, a photo of it on your mobile device, and a digital version to cover all your bases. Also, make sure you are up to date on the latest vaccination requirements. Some destinations require travelers to be refreshed if they received their one or two dose vaccination schedule more than nine months ago.

7. Get travel insurance.

There are many reasons your trip can go wrong these days, and travel insurance can really help defer the added cost of changes and cancellations. In addition, some countries require visitors to purchase travel insurance prior to arrival. Travel credit cards can offer trip cancellation or car rental protection – here’s our guide to the cards with the best insurance. If you want the absolute gold standard in COVID-era coverage, Covac Global will evacuate and bring you back if you have a positive PCR test and at least one symptom. We’ve also broken down how cancel for any reason travel insurance can (and can’t) help you on your travels. For some, it may well be worth the extra cost.

8. Pack patience: Staff shortages remain an issue.

Labor shortages remain a problem in hotels, resorts, restaurants and airlines around the world. What this means for travelers: It’s important to be respectful and patient as the remaining staff tries to keep up with the sky-high demand. Airport queues may be longer and there may be significant delays. Take a deep breath and think what a privilege it is to travel at all. Hospitality is a two-way street: if you expect employees to be good hosts, be good guests too.

9. Get TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or Clear.

Staffing shortages also apply to airports and TSA – especially during a peak travel season like spring break. Airports large and small are not immune; We’ve experienced 60-minute waits at airport security everywhere from Newark Liberty International to Denver and New Orleans. We strongly recommend that you get to the airports earlier than normal (if you are usually two hours before departure time, good job!). Your other best bet is to apply for one of three “Fast Pass” security levels:

  • TSA PreCheck: $85 for five years. Good if you travel primarily within the United States. Children under 12 can get through with a guardian’s precheck.
  • Global entry: $100 for five years. The upgrade is worth it if you plan to go abroad at least once a year. It includes PreCheck, shortens your waiting time at customs and can easily be extended online. Note that if you are traveling with children, they also require Global Entry.
  • Clear: $179 annually. Gets you through the security check even faster than PreCheck. If your home airport is one of dozens with Clear and you travel frequently, it’s worth enrolling in the program in addition to Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.

Read on to learn more about the differences between TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and CLEAR.

10. If you’re nervous about fluctuating mask requirements, play it safe and just wear a mask.

When in doubt, break out the N95 or KN95. We’ve rounded up the best face masks for travel. Peace of mind can go a long way.

>>Next: How to calm your fear of travel

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