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Tips for limiting costs and headaches of summer travel

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

By air

Airlines are struggling to come back from the reductions made in equipment and staff during the pandemic. The economic lesson is with reduced supply and increased demand, prices have gone up. But you may be able to save some money if you do your homework.

• Travel agencies can help you find options, understand the risks and benefits of purchases and decipher the lingo including non-changeable, non-refundable, flexible exchanges, use of frequent flier benefits, etc.

• Flexibility on departure and return dates may help you find deals.

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

•  If you are booking your own flights, plan ahead. Check sites regularly for deals. If you purchase, find out if you can change your ticket if a less-expensive option comes up on the same airline.

• If you use a travel website for booking, be certain to understand the policies on booking, refunds and changes.

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

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

• Pack snacks and/or meals.

By train

A quick search for train travel on the internet provided many options for adventures. You can book a trip yourself on Amtrak or find travel packages with travel companies that include meals and tours or independent travel. The list above for homework applies to trains as well.

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

• Sleeping accommodations are available.

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

• Depending on the trip, the scenery could be spectacular. If it is a family trip, plan on activities to keep everyone occupied.

By bus

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

By car

Car trips are a great fit for vacations closer to home. New Mexico and our neighboring states have much to offer. Many a family memory was made on a road trip!

Accommodations

You have many choices. Prices are up, but deals can be found. Hotels and motels provide a wide selection. VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and Airbnb offer options that range from condos to entire homes, studios to multiple bedrooms, kitchenettes to full gourmet kitchens. Many people purchased RVs during the pandemic, and some may be offering rentals to others. Camping ranges from rustic to “glamping.” Internet searches provide a wealth of options.

• Use established, well-known sites for booking.

• Know the policies for changes or cancelations.

• Remember camping reservations.

Domestic vs. abroad

Check your destination’s COVID-19 situation and travel requirements before traveling. 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 U.S. (U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, U.S. lawful permanent residents and immigrants) to show a negative COVID-19 viral test or documented recover-from-COVID-19 before they board their flight.

Non-U.S. citizens who are nonimmigrant (not a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident or traveling to the United States on an immigrant visa) will need to show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before they travel by air 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 in hopes that you do not have a car accident. Travel insurance may give you similar peace of mind for your vacation. The cost of travel insurance has gone up. Review plans for medical reimbursement, trip interruptions or delays and cancellations. Look at reviews as well as financial ratings. There are internet sites that offer comparisons of insurance plans. While not an endorsement, friends have used squaremouth.com.

Go have fun, take lots of pictures and mail a post card to a friend.



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