If you told us last February that we would be longing for tiny bags of airline peanuts, TSA security lines and gate-checked carry-ons, we would have thought you were crazy. Now, after twelve months of counting a walk to the mailbox as travel, we can’t wait to get on the road again this summer.
Many of the Knack team are working on upcoming travel plans for summer so we thought we would share some of the tips and tricks we’re using to get ready for when the world opens up.
1.) Update Your Travel Docs
First things first. Since many of us haven’t travelled for over a year, we need to ensure that our travel documents are in order. While traveling overseas this summer may be the last thing on your mind, a number of countries still allow Americans to visit today and more will open their borders by summer. So make sure your passport hasn’t expired! If it has, think about renewing it soon as January through March is a busy time for passport renewals. And while it won’t impact your summer travel plans, remember that starting October 1st, every adult will need a REAL ID driver’s license from your state (or a TSA-approved alternative, like a US Passport) to board any domestic flight. Find out more about REAL ID here.
2.) Check Restrictions and Travel Safely
Before you book your flight or hotel, check out the CDC’s updated list of travel restrictions and current quarantine requirements in every state. Also, it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep both ourselves, and those around us, safe when we travel. If you are eligible, get vaccinated at least two weeks before you travel and, please, wear a mask and practice social distancing while you travel whether you are vaccinated or not.
3.) Book Early
We’ve heard it from Knackpackers all over: we’re sick of being stuck in our homes for the past twelve months. Since there’s lots of other people who feel the same way, the pent-up demand for summer travel could be huge. HomeToGo, the world’s largest vacation rental search engine, recently released a report saying that their December - January bookings for US vacation rentals this summer have already increased by 27% over bookings from last summer. Also, many travelers who canceled plans for 2020 have simply rebooked those same trips for 2021 or 2022. If you’re like us and haven’t booked or re-booked your summer travel yet, many travel experts recommend that you do so before March 31st to take advantage of the best fares.
4.) Take Advantage of Flexible Travel Arrangements.
While rules vary widely by type of ticket and date of purchase, most US airlines have suspended cancellation and change fees on tickets booked through March 31st and a number of airlines have permanently eliminated these fees. And don’t forget to check out change or cancellation policies for tour companies, rental cars and hotels while you’re at it. One of our favorite tips to avoid the hassle of change or cancellation fees is to pay for your summer airline, car rental and hotel reservations with points. There’s no cash outlay and most loyalty programs have waived fees to reinstate points if you have to cancel your trip.
5.) Consider Travel Insurance
Before COVID, most travel insurance policies didn’t cover pandemics, but, luckily, that is no longer the case. While we’ve never been big fans of travel insurance, COVID changed our thinking, especially for travel this summer. If you’re still on the fence about travel insurance, check out this great article from the Better Business Bureau on whether travel insurance makes sense for you. If it does, here’s a couple of sites where you can read reviews, compare various policies and receive some quotes.
If you need some travel ideas, here are a few insider tips if you’re thinking about visiting our hometowns of Providence, RI or Portland, OR. And, as always, we hope your summer travel plans include bringing your Knack Pack!
Once you do make your plans, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us where you are going to go this summer. Better yet, tag a pic of you and your Knack Pack with #knackbags when you get there!