The countdown to summer is on, and experts predict it is going to be one of the busiest travel seasons we’ve seen in a while.
"It was a long two years," said Wendy Marley, a travel advisor with AAA in Newton. "The jump in travel from 2021 up to 2022, the increase is the highest that we've seen year over year since 2010."
“A lot of people are sitting on a lot of cash that they never got to use in the past two summers and you know this is the summer that they are going to take it,” said Lousson Smith, a product operations specialist at Scott’s Cheap Flights.
People definitely want to get away this year. Hotels are booking up and rental cars are in short supply.
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The National Parks, Orlando, Alaska, Canada, Aruba and Greece and Italy are hot destinations.
With gas prices at record highs, you may want to shorten your road trip or consider Amtrak. And when it comes to airfares, the sooner you book the better, so hurry up.
"You still might find a great fare for late June or mid to late August," said Smith. "As soon as you see a fare that you’re comfortable with, go ahead and book it. You’re entitled to a 24-hour period where you can cancel for free."
And once you book, keep an eye on the fares in case you see your flight offered for a cheaper price later.
"You can call up the airlines if you booked an economy ticket or higher and they will refund you the difference of that fare in the form of a credit," said Smith. "So, as soon as you see a price that you like, go ahead and book it and use those tools to your advantage to make sure you’re getting the most value for your money."
Being flexible with dates and destinations is the single best way to find an affordable option. Smith recommends going for the cheapest flight you can find and building your adventure from there.
He suggested using websites like Google, Kayak or Scott’s Cheap Flights to find options that fit your budget.
"We put in a few different parameters, see which destinations come up and say, 'hey, listen, if you go Tuesday to Tuesday, the airfare looks really great,'" said Marley. “If you give us some direction, whether it's Caribbean or domestic…. it's very easy to search and find deals."
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International travel still isn’t back to pre-pandemic levels, so you have a chance of snagging a deal on airfare. But if you are traveling internationally check with each country you’re visiting regarding their COVID-19 restrictions.
"Some are requiring tests, some just require proof of vaccination, some have forms you need to fill out, so it's very important to check and make sure that you're complying with that so that they don't deny you entry," said Marley. "A lot of the Caribbean destinations have dropped restrictions. But again, you know, you never know. There could be an island here or there that does require either testing or want you to fill out a passenger locator form. So just very important to make sure that you check with that destination."
She recommends packing extra COVID test kits with you just in case you feel ill during your trip and travel insurance in the event that you have to extend your stay unexpectedly.
"Travel insurance is extremely important to have with airlines having last minute schedule changes, flight delays due to weather, and mechanical issues,” said Marley. "It's very important to make sure you have travel insurance because they can cover you for trip delay or travel interruption."
Be prepared for the flight cancellations and delays that we saw in the spring to continue into the summer. And, remember, under federal law, if an airline cancels or significantly changes your flight itinerary and you choose not to accept the alternative offer by the carrier, you’re eligible for a refund.
What constitutes a significant schedule change varies by airline, so check their policies.
And, although we are just gearing up for summer, and you probably don’t want to hear this, travel experts say right now you should really be thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas flights. You need to book early to get the best deals for those busy times.