Flights are grounded. Borders are closed. Coming back home is quite the ordeal with testing and quarantines.
Travel will eventually come back, and my personal thinking is it’s actually going to bounce back so fast that the industry won’t be able to keep up with demand (but that’s a whole other story coming soon).
Right now, travelers have the upper hand. It’s almost like they’re first time home buyers during a housing collapse. We’ve saved up money during the pandemic and we need to travel. And we want to get out of Dodge the minute it’s safe to do so.
With that in mind, here are my must-do travel tips for anyone even dreaming about a trip right now.
USE A TRAVEL AGENT
I cannot stress this enough. A good agent will literally make the difference in your trip.
You’re not just a number like you would be with an OTA (online travel agent such as Expedia). Your travel agent likely has a very good rapport with the manager on site at your hotel and can easily accommodate special requests – like adding a crib or setting up a room nicely for a proposal.
They’ll also have your back should rules change last minute for some reason – as they did many, many, many times during this pandemic.
Bit of back-story – agents are paid on commission, by the tour operator you book with. For example, if you book a one week all inclusive to Cancun, you pay for your trip and the agent gets a commission from tour operator.
The reason agents have been so upset during this pandemic is because commissions are paid (for the most part) at time of travel. So that trip you booked in August for travel in December? The agent doesn’t get paid until you go. And with the pandemic and all the cancellations, those commissions were lost. All the work agents did for your booking went unpaid, not to mention the income they had counted on was gone.
As a result, you’ll likely see a reasonable service fee moving forward when you deal with an agent. Their expertise is invaluable and paying someone to be your private travel concierge is very savvy and smart.
There is no other way to say it. Do not pass go – go directly to book now.
Particularly if you aren’t sure about traveling this coming winter season but definitely will be comfortable traveling Fall/Winter 2022/2023, book now. Rates for Mexico, the Caribbean and Dominican Republic winter season for example, are already starting to rise as people book.
There are a lot of great deals now, but you have to move fast.
It’s basically like riding a wave; know what’s coming and get ready to jump on a deal.
Also comforting is the fact that pretty much every single tour operator, airline and hotel are offering incredible cancellation allowances should travel restrictions change.
DO A MULTI-GENERATIONAL AND / OR CELEBRATIONTRIP
Back when I worked in destination marketing, this was an emerging trend. Now?
Multi-family groups are leading the way in terms of booking numbers and are fore-casted to be even stronger into 2022. It makes sense.
We haven’t seen our families. We haven’t been able to relax on a beach somewhere. We haven’t been able to celebrate milestones.
Celebrate the 50th birthday with your closest friends in a villa. Have a big celebration for an anniversary.
Heck, just grab your friends, family and go and celebrate the fact that we can. There are also amazing deals with private villas for example, around the world that pre-pandemic were out of many people’s budgets. You can even rent a private jet, which, depending on the number of people traveling and where you’re going, actually is competitive price wise, with the per ticket costs for a commercial airline. Talk about a COVID safety bubble – you and your family and friends take a jet to a villa? How safe and memorable is that?
There are of course so many other options – book a block of rooms at a resort. Rent out a boutique hotel. Whatever your fancy, just do it.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS
Travel shaming is an unfortunate new lexicon in our vocabularies and as per an earlier article, really needs to stop.
Tell your friends what you’re doing. Don’t be scared. Get excited. Know that traveling is among the safest activities you can do (safer than going to the grocery store for example, but I digress).
Get everyone excited. Stop the shame.
The sooner we can all get back to the skies, the better we’ll all be.
By Marsha Mowers