The world is traveling again, but what you can expect while traveling can be very different than what you experienced prior to 2020 and the Coronavirus Pandemic. I believe that if you know what to expect, you will enjoy your vacation much more. Here are some things that you should be aware of as you plan your next vacation.
· Heavily discounted travel is harder to find. For over 2 years, most travel was shut down or severely restricted. There is now pent-up demand for travel and people want to get out and see the world again. At the same time, Travel providers are trying to make up for their lost income for the last 2 years. Because of this, you see very little discounted travel. Instead, these travel suppliers are adding amenities. An example of this is the Cruise Lines that are adding Wi-Fi or Drink Packages to their voyages instead of slashing prices.
· Longer response time for Proposals. I used to be able to turn around a proposal in 3-4 days. Now, those same proposals can take 3-4 weeks. As the Travel Providers are bringing back staff, they are needing to take additional time to train the staff. In addition, they are being flooded with requests for proposals. The combination of this means that it can now take me weeks to get the information to plan your vacation that I used to get in days.
· Flights can be rescheduled (many times). This is caused by the Airlines being short staffed. They had adjusted their staffing needs and schedules based upon reduced need for flights. Now they are trying to re-adjust to the increased demand for flights and to maximize their existing staff to cover the most flights. They are changing their schedules, often multiple times, as they get closer to the actual flight dates.
· Final Documents arrive closer to your trip. This is a result of the changing flight schedules, and the staffing demands of the Travel Providers. Because there are many flight changes, many of them at the last minute, the Travel Providers are delaying those final documents until they are less likely to change. This prevents having to do the Documents multiple times and causing their staff to have to do extra work. Realize that we are aware of your upcoming trip and are doing our best to get you the documents you need to go on your vacation.
· Allow more time at the Airport. I remember the days, not that long ago, where you could show up at the airport 60 minutes before your flight and make it through security and board your flight on time. Today, you will want to be at the airport 90-120 minutes prior to the boarding time. It will take longer to check in for your flight, go through TSA Security and to make it to your gate. And when you travel internationally, be aware of different requirements. For example, in Portugal, you need to present your passport again at the gate. This can take an extra 30 minutes to get through that line. If you don’t plan on that, you can easily miss your flights.
· Hotels and Resorts have staff shortages. When you go to that 4- or 5-star Hotel, you will probably notice a change in the level of service. You might only get a Room Cleaning every 2-3 days instead of daily. You might have to wait for a Bell Hop to deliver your luggage. These hotels are having the same hiring challenges that most businesses are having. Be patient and keep a smile on your face. If you are being nice to the staff, you are more likely to get a little extra service.
· Cruises are sailing with only partial capacity. Cruise lines used to brag about their occupancy rates. Most sailed at 100% capacity. Now they are only sailing at 50-60% capacity. They are trying to match their staffing levels with the number of guests they can allow onboard. Part of the challenge is the fact that they hire staff from all around the world. Once they find someone willing to work, they must get Visas that will allow them to travel to the ship and to work aboard the ship. They will also have to train them for their position. In addition, most Cruise Lines sailing from the US require the crew to speak English, so they might have to take a course in English. All these things take time and make full staffing a challenge.
· Ports of Call can change while on a cruise. Don’t be surprised if there are changes to the scheduled Ports of Call. Again, this can be caused by staffing shortages, both on the ship and at the Port. The time in the Port might change because they don’t have staff to bring the ship into the Dock. Or maybe they might need to cancel a port because of a sudden jump in the number of COVID-19 infections. Just remember that they are making these changes for YOUR protection.
· Travel Insurance is more important than ever. With all these changes, Travel Insurance is a ‘must have’ for your trip. If a flight cancels, it can have a domino effect on the rest of you trip. If you contract COVID-19, you can be quarantined up to 10 days and require medical care. You would have to pay for this up front if you didn’t have insurance. So the chances that you will have some kind of problem on your trip have increased, so you need to make sure you are protected.
· Trips need to be planned further in advance. This might be the most important. With increased demand, reduced staff, and reduced capacity, it is more imperative that you plan your trip further in advance. It is very hard to find any resorts or hotels for this summer. I am working on Fall and Winter 2022 and into 2023 right now. For some of the best Cruises, I am even planning 2024 trips. So, it is never to early to begin planning.
By resetting your expectations, I hope that you can have a more enjoyable vacation. Give me a call when you are ready to start planning your next travel experience.