Summer 2022 trips aren’t easy – Here’s how to prepare – WWD
As lazy days by the sea have given way to chaotic travel excursions, the key to essential summer vacations this year is flexibility.
What used to be seasonal games like “Fly or Drive?” or “Hotel or Airbnb?” have become life-changing conversations that cause some would-be travelers to postpone their plans or put them aside altogether. Instead of conjuring up images of sailing the Adriatic, biking in the Dolomites or shopping along Florence’s Via Roma, many international travelers instead consider bypassing airport security lines, flight cancellations and the overbooked lounge chairs on Mediterranean beaches.
Travel chaos abounds – but that hasn’t stopped eager vacationers. Instead of canceling your trip altogether, AskThePilot.com founder Patrick Smith suggests building in a contingency plan.
“The current situation at airports speaks to people’s willingness to endure and what people are willing to sacrifice for a vacation,” Smith said. “The ongoing chaos and congestion is encouraging people to revise their holiday dynamics to include buffers when things don’t go to plan. Flights are delayed. Flights are cancelled. Connections are missed.
On-time flights have become increasingly unpredictable, and it’s taking its toll on fast travelers. “If you go somewhere for three or four days and end up being a day and a half late, that can throw everything out the window. It is important that people build their vacations taking into account the unexpected. Have a plan B and a plan C. If a flight is delayed, we make it happen. If a flight is cancelled, we do it. Maybe even change the destination at the last second,” Smith says.
Buying tickets that offer some flexibility is worth it, according to Smith, and cancellations could provide opportunities to explore new cities. “Above and beyond everything else – be patient and don’t be shocked if things go wrong,” Smith says. “Hopefully after the summer rush, the industry will start to stabilize. Staffing levels will improve and things will hopefully be on point by the holidays. (Smith has postponed his plans to visit Asia until the fall.)
In the meantime, the intrepid advance by plane, train, car and bus. And yes, “bleisure” stays, which combine business and leisure, do exist. That and revenge travel more than two years into the pandemic are driving rental car bookings, according to a spokesperson for Enterprise Holdings. Florida, Hawaii, California, New York and Nevada are the main destinations for travelers. While fleet availability has improved significantly since last year, global chip shortages and other supply chain constraints are impacting the availability of new cars, the spokesperson said. .
Swimmers, meanwhile, may have concerns about diving into the ocean given the media’s zeal for reports of shark attacks. But these brushes with large blanks aren’t just click bait. Last year, there were 71 shark attacks, including nine fatalities, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack Files. Last year, Florida recorded the most shark bites – 28 – followed by Australia, Hawaii, South Africa, South Carolina, California, North Carolina, respectively. North, Reunion Island, Brazil and the Bahamas.
Despite rigamarole being more likely to block summer getaways, there’s clearly an element of revenge travel underfoot, says Alastair Thomann, who as CEO of Freehand/Generator oversees 15 properties across the U.S. and in Europe. Gen Z and Millennials are leading the charge, with many venturing out to celebrate the end of the school year, graduations, or to catch up on trips not taken in the past two years.
Families, many of whom prefer to huddle together in suites and shared accommodations, are further fueling the wave of summer vacations. Interestingly, many summer holidaymakers are embarking on city breaks, to New York, Miami, Dublin, Madrid, Barcelona and London. Part of the appeal of European cities comes from the fact that people can travel by train or car, Thomann says.
Conviviality is a priority for many, Thomann says, noting that his properties are often rented by groups of friends who are just looking to “have a good time together.”
Concerns over inflation, the spending crisis and the cost of living crisis have crept into European markets, and Thomann says concerns are emerging over luxury properties. “Are people going to spend so much money on luxury vacations? This is a concern for our industry. Right now the world is doing well, but how will that change as the cost of living, inflationary pressures, etc. come to hit us over the next few months? »
The road trip option is potentially cheaper. AAA had predicted nearly 48 million people would walk 50 miles or more from home over the July 4 weekend – an all-time high. This road rush was an indication of what people would be up to for the rest of the summer, says AAA’s Andrew Gross. “It really surprised us because you wouldn’t think we would set records with these high gas prices,” he says.
People can opt for “quasi-cations,” he says, which allow them to get out of town without racking up too many miles. For some, it equates to a more affordable route, and for others, it’s a way to avoid the hassle of air travel. “If you are going by car, you can choose your departure time. You can choose the route and who is seated next to you. You can’t ignore that,” Gross laughs. “And you can throw a lot more stuff in the trunk.”
Gasoline prices, however, are likely to affect car travel, Gross says. About 60% of respondents to a AAA survey in March said they would change their driving habits or lifestyle when a gallon of gas hit $4, and about 75% of respondents said they would. at $5. “Well, we achieved both of those goals,” Gross says.
Despite the potential for headaches, many continue to take flight, with enthusiasm bound for Europe. To protect their trips, travelers can book airfare and hotel stays with rewards points and miles, and purchase travel insurance, says Melanie Lieberman, editor of global features at ThePointsGuy.com .
“We’re seeing people wanting to have more immersive experiences wherever they go. They typically travel longer and stay in one place longer. Part of that, of course, is because travel is more complicated. Once people get to where they’re going, they can’t wait to stay there for a minute,” she says. “There’s been so much excitement around the trips. They are so eager to get back there and connect with the people and places they visit.
After nearly 300 million people flocked to national parks across the United States last year, returning visitors and first-timers alike should plan ahead. Reservations are required by the US National Park Service for Glacier National Park, Yosemite National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and other locations. In fact, the hiker’s ode to “carry-out”—as with anything you pack in the woods, you should pack—would bode well for summer vacationers. Some are trying to embrace streamlining, whether it’s carrying on luggage instead of checked luggage, renting sports equipment and buying essentials on arrival. Remember when the big players used to FedEx their bags in advance?
Long weekend getaways and short spontaneous jaunts have fallen out of favor as people plan farther for financial reasons and options less likely to be delayed, like early morning flights, Lieberman says.
“We have seen many schedule reductions from airlines around the world as they try to ensure they can staff and operate the flights they have on schedule. We remind people to expect crowds, delays and setbacks,” Lieberman says, adding that many vacationers book their trip with an extra day or two as a precaution. London Heathrow Airport has even asked airlines to stop selling some tickets for summer flights.
“What you see at Heathrow is indicative of what is happening in the industry. The industry is really trying to keep up with demand and avoid problems,” says Lieberman.
Some travelers are turning to the trains for getaways, which have seen an increase in ridership.
Amtrak has seen more than 80% of its ridership return to fiscal 2019 levels nationally, with its northeast corridor stretching from Washington, DC, to Boston being popular. Service expansions include trains to Burlington, Vermont and travelers to Newport can now board a Seastreak ferry from Providence thanks to a new partnership.
Although travel remains popular, concerns about COVID-19 remain and there are still places with testing requirements.
The Canadian government has reinstated mandatory random testing for those entering Canada by air at four major airports, for example. “When the United States dropped its test-on-arrival requirement for international flyers, it definitely reassured people that they could travel internationally without having to worry about getting stranded. If we see any tests again, that might deter some people from traveling abroad,” Lieberman says. “It’s something to watch for sure.”
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