Tips for limiting the costs and headaches of summer travel

Travel increased as vaccination rates increased, cases of COVID-19 decreased and people were ready to get out of town. But with travel costs rising and the pandemic still with us, summer vacation travel is mixed this year. Here are some considerations as you make plans.

From the air

Airlines are scrambling to bounce back from reductions in equipment and staff during the pandemic. The economic lesson is that with a decrease in supply and an increase in demand, prices have increased. But you may be able to save some money if you do your homework.

• Travel agents can help you find options, understand the risks and benefits of shopping, and decipher jargon including non-changeable, non-refundable, flexible exchanges, using frequent flyer benefits, etc.

• Flexibility in departure and return dates can help you find deals.

• If you use or expect to use a particular airline, sign up for email deals it offers.

• If you are booking your flights, plan ahead. Check the sites regularly for deals. If you buy, find out if you can change your ticket if a cheaper option appears on the same airline.

• If you use a travel website for bookings, make sure you understand the policies on booking, refunds and changes.

• If the airline changes or cancels a flight, know your rights. Will it cover your meals for the delays, put you up in a hotel overnight, book you on another airline?

• Be your own problem solver. While you’re in line at the customer service desk after a problem, you and anyone in your party could be on your phone looking for a solution.

• Pack snacks and/or meals.

With train

A quick search for train travel online yielded many opportunities for adventure. You can book a trip on your own on Amtrak or find travel packages with travel companies that include meals and tours or independent travel. The homework list above also applies to trains.

• Amtrak’s website, amtrak.com, says it has “over 500 destinations.”

• Overnight accommodations are available.

• Look for discounts for family groups, seniors, military, veterans, groups and more.

• Depending on the trip, the scenery can be spectacular. If it’s a family trip, plan activities to keep everyone busy.

By bus

Greyhound is not your parents’ or grandparents’ bus. The website greyhound.com says the new buses have Wi-Fi, individual power outlets and extra legroom. There are also private bus companies that offer specific destinations and tours. Do your homework to understand your purchase.

By car

Road trips are a great fit for vacations closer to home. New Mexico and our neighboring states have a lot to offer. Many family memories were made on one trip!

Accommodations

You have many choices. Prices have gone up, but deals can be found. Hotels and motels offer a wide selection. VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and Airbnb offer options ranging from apartments to entire homes, studios to multiple bedrooms, kitchenettes to full gourmet kitchens. Many people bought RVs during the pandemic, and some may offer rentals to others. Camping ranges from rustic to glamping. Internet searches offer a multitude of options.

• Use popular booking sites.

• Know the policies for changes or cancellations.

• Don’t forget camping reservations.

In-country vs. out-of-country

Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation and travel requirements before you travel. States and local communities may have their own requirements. Countries may have their own entry and exit requirements.

As of June 12, the CDC will no longer require air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the US (US citizens, US citizens, US lawful permanent residents, and immigrants) to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documented recovery from COVID-19 before boarding their flight.

Non-immigrant non-U.S. citizens (non-U.S. citizens, U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa) will need to show proof that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before traveling by plane to the United States from a foreign country.

The CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.

Travel insurance

Vacations are an investment in time and money. You buy car insurance with the hope that you won’t have a car accident. Travel insurance can give you similar peace of mind for your vacation. The cost of travel insurance has increased. Review plans for medical reimbursements, travel interruptions, or delays and cancellations. See reviews as well as financial ratings. There are websites that offer comparisons of insurance plans. Although not an endorsement, friends have used Squaremouth.com.

Go have fun, take lots of pictures and send a postcard to a friend.

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