By Lenore Marema
A Smithsonian seminar in the fall brought together representatives from the US State Department, travel agents and tour operators, who generated advice on upcoming travel.
Where to go
National: During the pandemic, Americans once again fell in love with the outdoors. In 2022, expect national and state parks to be stranded again. Panelists advised travelers not to leave their homes without reservations for national and state parks. The cost of renting any recreational vehicle is also much higher.
Tips: Try lesser-known national and state parks or take a road trip on scenic roads.
International: Make sure your destination is open and investigate COVID and other requirements. Panelists urged travelers to consider the costs of quarantine and the impact on their work or other obligations at home. Many Americans have traveled to Mexico and the Caribbean for their international trips.
Tips: COVID testing is going to be with us for a while.
Travel insurance is your friend with all the uncertainties of travel, but only if you understand your coverage. Know before you go what is happening, for example, if someone on your trip tests positive for COVID and what the time and expense will be for you in the event of a full or partial cancellation. If you are planning to travel in 2022, book now. Many travelers have deposits and other payments for trips canceled during the pandemic, and popular trips are filling up for 2022.
Tips: Consider traveling with a tour operator that requires all participants to be fully immunized. If you are traveling abroad independently, visit a country. The requirements for crossing orders vary and change.
The trains. Amtrak offers reasonable rates for most of the destinations it serves, although seasonal / vacation travel may cost more.
Planes. As domestic air traffic increased in 2021, expect higher fares, in part because business travel is still on the decline. US airlines are filling the middle seats again. The US international is on the decline, and there may be deals, at least by coach. Panelists suggested that travelers wait to see air fares when they book well in advance. Due to understaffing and other factors, travelers may experience delays and cancellations.
Tips: Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday are the cheapest days to fly. Saturday is the worst, according to panelists. Your airline miles can be difficult to use on free seats. Try to use miles on upgrades. Take protein bars with you because the service is not yet back.
Car rental. Costs are high and availability can be an issue. Airport rentals are both the most convenient and the most expensive. Try using an offsite rental location and Uber. Some car manufacturers offer rentals at local dealerships. Carsharing platforms have sprung up to allow private owners to rent their cars, but check insurance coverage.
Cruise lines. They are coming back slowly and the prices are at their lowest in many cases.
Hotels. Without business trips, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are now days at reduced prices. Hotels, however, are adjusting staff so that there are fewer amenities and services as well.
Last call — Pack your patience!
This article has been republished with permission from The Compass, the official newsletter of the Cameron Station Community Association.
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