How to make travel plans for the summer of 2022 that will actually take place

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A woman enjoys the sun at Plaka Beach on the Aegean island of Naxos in Greece, Friday, May 14, 2021. Associated Press

After two years of cancellations, delays and marathon meetings with airline customer service, many passengers are hoping to book summer trips, which will actually be a success this year.

  • Passengers with mandatory masks in the security line at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, Arlington, Va., November 23, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds / The New York Times)

    Camouflage rule for planes and trains still in the air

“I was completely out of work in May 2020,” says Katharine Ng, an engineering program manager in Los Angeles. Ng planned to visit Europe and Morocco, but had to cancel it and reserve it for the following year, 2021. These new plans were eventually thwarted because she had not yet been fully vaccinated in May and travel restrictions were blocking her.

“Fortunately, the cancellation of the trips was easy due to the rules of cancellation of COVID,” says Ng. Although the refund was nice, it didn’t even scratch the itch for taking a real vacation.

Many travelers, who have already ruined their summer plans twice, are ashamed to carry them out again this year. Even experts have given up trying to predict what reversals the pandemic will bring. But no matter what happens, travelers can maximize their chances of success in summer travel with a few simple steps.

BOOK FLIGHTS SOON

Traveling is not just a return. It’s buzzing back.

“We are already at ticket prices for 2019,” says Adit Damodaran, an economist at Hopper, a travel booking application that tracks ticket price trends. “We have already exceeded our original price forecast.”

Prices are rising in part due to increased consumer demand, but volatile oil prices may play an even bigger role. When the conflict in Ukraine caused some passengers to withdraw from traveling in Europe, prices did not match this example.

“Demand is falling in Europe, but prices have not fallen,” says Damodaran. “It simply came to our notice then. Airlines could proactively adjust fuel price tariffs. “

Whatever the cause, it is unlikely that ticket costs will be significantly reduced before peak summer travel. So booking sooner later can help you avoid prices this season.

KEEP IT FLEXIBLE

The pandemic has announced one consumer-friendly change: Most airlines and hotels now offer more flexible booking options. And if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that no trip, however well planned, is safe from disruption.

The best way to find flexible booking options depends on a number of factors, but there are a few simple rules.

– Avoid a basic economic ticket as it does not allow for changes or cancellations.

– Choose hotel rooms with free cancellation. Sometimes these rates are slightly higher than their irreversible counterparts.

– Carefully read the rules of holiday rental. Services such as Airbnb and Vrbo generally allow hosts to choose cancellation policies.

Data from Hopper show that the number of basic economic reservations made on its platforms dropped significantly in 2021 after airlines introduced more flexible options for other fares. Now these lowest tariffs make up only 20% of total bookings compared to almost 40% before the industry change.

Vacationers at the beach at Pier 14 in Myrtle Beach, SC, on Monday, June 29, 2020. – Tanya Ackerman / The New York Times

CHOOSE DESTINATIONS READY

Although the number of COVID-19 cases is declining during the spring and summer, it may take some time for all international travel restrictions to follow.

“I was planning a trip to South Korea, but I couldn’t cope with the seven-day hotel quarantine,” says Ng, referring to the country’s strict rules. Ng has decided this summer to visit Europe, where such restrictions do not currently apply. She feels more confident that the rules related to COVID will not suddenly change just before her trip or, worse, during her trip.

When choosing a destination, start with countries that have restrictions that match your risk tolerance and work back.

Of course, these restrictions can be avoided if you stick to domestic travel, but many travelers are eager to go abroad.

CREATE A BACKUP PLAN – OR SOME

Anything can happen with all these precautions. Another wave, variant or military conflict could reverse even the best plans, so it is important to make a down payment.

First, after planning a major trip, consider making several fully refundable bookings for a second, separate trip. This can be to ensure that you do not have to book everything at the last minute during high season. Just don’t book a ticket unless it’s actually refundable – most major cabin tickets come back as vouchers from the same airline that aren’t as good as cash.

Second, outline the idea for a third trip with the intention of booking it at the last minute if the original plans fail. This step can help psychologically avoid shortness of breath when changing plans.

Finally, consider more shorter trips during the summer instead of one long trip to one destination. This approach not only protects against possible destination-specific restrictions, but can also help make up for lost visits during a pandemic.

This article was provided to The Associated Press by NerdWallet’s personal finance website. Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet.

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