By: Bryan Herb
As the world crawls out from under the pandemic and embraces a new reality, those who have been traveling have certainly noticed some growing pains. There is an increase in flight cancellations and changes, as well as pilot strikes and various baggage woes.
So what does one do? Well, you could wait until everything in the world is easy and perfect, but you will be waiting a long time, probably forever. A better option is to go on with our lives, especially in regards to our passions like travel, and be realistic while adapting to new realities. Become more knowledgeable and prepared for things that could go bump in your travels. The more you are prepared in advance, the odds are much higher that your travels will go smoothly. The following are some suggestions to help you have as seamless and safe an experience as possible.
Do your research on entry requirements: Always research your destination, as well as cities that you are connecting through to make sure that you have complied with their entry requirements. You can also work with a trusted travel advisor to help you through this process. I may know someone that can help – wink wink! Most of the time there are not special requirements when you’re only connecting, but there are exceptions. You also need to do this well in advance of your travels, because it may take a bit of time to comply with some entry requirements. For instance, many countries, cruise lines, restaurants, trains, etc. are requiring passengers to be vaccinated in order to enter. You can’t do this last minute. Many countries are also requiring Covid tests, and the type of test required differs from place to place. Still, others require all of this information to be uploaded on an online portal prior to travel. In my experience, these online portals have been very easy, but you still need to complete the online information in advance.
Remember your visa: I’m not talking about your credit card. In this age of post-corona travel, many people are so focused on Covid procedures that they can forget that countries also often require visas in order to enter, and this generally has to be done several days in advance of the trip. Again, a trusted advisor or visa processing company can assist you with this for a fee.
Give yourself the time of day: This is definitely not the time for waiting until the last minute to make your flight. If you don’t give yourself ample time, you are essentially expecting everything to run like clockwork in order for you to make it, and now more than ever the “clocks” may be a little wonky. Various check-in procedures are often taking longer than expected, so arrive with plenty of time to avoid starting your trip with either a panic or a major disappointment.
Mask-up: One thing I’ve noticed while traveling is that there is not consistency throughout countries nor throughout airlines or other travel platforms in regards to requiring masks. Therefore, it is always a good idea to have a disposable mask on you while you are traveling. It is not a big deal to carry one with you, and this can help you greatly if one is ever required for something you’re trying to do, whether it be entering a museum or a plane. Plus, one thing that the pandemic taught me is to carry a mask all the time on flights going forward. If I’m ever sitting next to someone who is clearly sick, I am going to be very glad to have a mask with me.
Tag your bags: One of the things we have always done at Zoom Vacations is provide sturdy luggage tags for our travelers’ bags. This is obviously helpful and essential for airline travel in case your luggage goes missing, but it also really helps you identify your bag immediately on baggage carousels, and helps bell attendants deliver them to your correct hotel room.
Entertain yourself: It is a good idea to have something to do in case of travel delays of any kind, whether it be your favorite show downloaded on a tablet or a great book to read. When you have something that you enjoy doing to pass the time, it also greatly reduces your stress level.
Lastly, use your phone: People are always telling each other to stay off their phones. Well, I am here to tell you the opposite. Use your phone more than ever, but in the following five ways:
1. Photograph your checked bags. If they happen to get lost, you can show the baggage claim attendant exactly what your bags look like, and perhaps even email them the photo. Also, I highly recommend that people take pictures of their baggage claim tickets so that if you lose them, you have the information on your phone.
2. Photos, photos, photos: Either in a secret vault or somewhere else on your phone, always have a picture of your passport as well as your vaccination card. While traveling I’ve been surprised how often I have been asked to show my vaccination card for things that I wasn’t even expecting.
3. Keep important numbers readily accessible. If you do happen to experience a sudden issue with a missed flight or a cancellation of any kind, you are only going to be more stressed out if you have to hunt down the contact information you need last minute. A better idea is to have all the contact information for your airlines, hotels, travel agent, and other necessary components for your trip saved on your phone and easily accessible.
4. Be an enabler (of your phone): Following up on number 3, make sure that your phone is enabled to make calls while overseas so that if you do run into an issue, you are able to call those who can help you. It is also a great idea to purchase additional phone data plans for international travel in time for your trip.
5. Power up: Something crazy about phones is that they are pretty useless if they run out of power. I highly recommend traveling with a fully charged external battery for your phone. If your phone dies during an exceptionally large delay, you will appreciate the backup energy.
The old adage of “fail to plan and you plan to fail” may be quite relevant in today’s travel world. Truly, I have been traveling all over the place, and as long as I am prepared, which I have been, it’s all worked out fine, and I have enjoyed transformative travel experiences just like always.
So go on–prepare yourself to see the world.
Bryan Herb is co-owner of Zoom Vacations®,
a US company that creates stylish international private events and gay group vacations to the world’s hottest destinations. Learn more about them at www.zoomvacations.com or call 773.772.9666.