With the number of COVID-19 cases decreasing and about 80% of the U.S. population at least partially vaccinated, it seems like everyone is ready to get back to normal life — like it used to be pre-pandemic. And that also means getting back to traveling. So if you’re getting ready to take off this summer, here are some helpful travel tips to make things a little easier.
1. Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is a must whenever you travel, especially if you plan to go abroad this summer. Travel insurance is great for compensating you for canceled or delayed flights, lost baggage or even lost and stolen items. It also covers hotels if you have to cancel your stay or switch hotels last minute. There are agents always available for a call if you find yourself in an emergency, and it’s a great thing to have just in case things go awry.
2. Book flights at the right time
When booking a flight, the earlier, the better. Last minute flights cost a fortune. Want to fly to Hawaii a week or two from now? You’re looking at a $700 one-way flight at minimum. Book a few months in advance, ideally 3 to 4 months before, and you’re looking at a $400 round trip. Also, prices are higher on Mondays due to the start of the business week and people flying out for work. Thursdays and Fridays are expensive because of weekend getaways, since most families travel on the weekends. The best days to buy tickets are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and early morning and late evening flights are cheaper.
3. Vacuum pack luggage
When trying to cram your suitcase because you don’t want to pay to check another bag, you could find yourself literally sitting on your suitcase trying to get it to shut, and even then, the zippers might bust. Invest in vacuum seal bags. Put your clothes inside, seal and use a regular vacuum cleaner to compress, and you’ll find you can fit way more into your suitcase.
4. Invest in anti-theft bags
If you’re going to a big city like Las Vegas or Chicago, you might want to invest in an anti-theft bag. For purses, cross body bags are a lot harder to snatch than an over the shoulder bag. And for backpacks, an anti-theft bag has no zippers on the front side but rather, has access on the back side and makes keeping your valuables safe a lot easier.
Also, if you’re traveling abroad, invest in a passport cover. You will need to keep your passport on you for identification purposes, but something that obviously looks like a passport could easily be a target. So consider a passport cover to disguise the look of a passport, and you can also keep your vaccination card with you in that cover.
5. Go to grocery stores
To avoid constantly eating out and racking up a big bill, consider finding a local grocery story and filling up your hotel fridge with bottled drinks. Carry a backpack with you if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking and keep bottled drinks with you because you will get thirsty. It will be hot outside and big cities like New York, New Orleans and Nashville are concrete jungles that will absorb the summer sun and make it difficult to stay hydrated.
Additionally, trying to find places to grab a quick drink for less than $5, even for a bottle of water, is going to be hard in tourist cities. The same goes for food. Stop by Walmart and get some supplies to make sub sandwiches or something easy to eat. They are great to stop in local parks and grab a quick bite or maybe even on a boat in the ocean or on the lake, where you can keep them in a cooler.
6. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes
Dressing nice isn’t the most important thing on vacation. Yes, you look great for that one picture. But you’re going to be miserable walking in strappy heels or brand new sandals. Tennis shoes are ideal. For example, Skechers makes a lot of comfortable shoes with memory foam in the sole for when you’re on your feet all day.
They are especially good if you plan to go to an amusement park this summer. Sure, bring a few nice outfits for going out to a nice dinner or a concert and such. But if you’re on walking tours, in museums and amusement parks or doing general sightseeing, a shirt and shorts are plenty fine. But watch those tan lines in the summer sun.
7. Take breaks at amusement parks
If you’re going to an amusement park or a water park, check to see if they allow re-entry. Most times, travelers lose energy as they go on through the day, and a large portion of the day is spent waiting under the sun in long lines for a 30 second thrill ride. In the middle of the day, head out to your car and pack a lunch to eat in the car. This keeps you from paying $8 for a coke.
Then just take about an hour nap in the car. This allows you to recharge, rehydrate and recuperate from being at the parks all day. Then come back after being fully rested and with full stomachs. While everyone who comes in the mornings will be tired, and families with small kids will be heading out at about 2 p.m., you and your family or friends will be ready to go for another few hours or maybe even until closing time.
8. Understand your destination country
If you plan to travel abroad this summer, depending on where you want to go, it is recommended to be fully vaccinated before you go. The pandemic may be getting better in the U.S., but that’s no guarantee of what you’ll encounter abroad and could bring back home. There is also different water quality abroad, which you may not be accustomed to. Traveling can throw off your internal clock which will already be weird. Europe is up to a 7-hour time zone change, but it can also create headaches, upset stomachs and loss of appetite.
You’ll also want to bring general medication. Things you can normally get like ibuprofen, Advil and Tylenol are impossible to find abroad. So carry a medicine pack with you when you go. Don’t worry, just put it in your suitcase and it will make it onto the plane. Lastly, be aware of different laws in different locations. For example, you can get fined in Germany for leaning against a sign with braille on it, which is only one of many different laws around the world.
9. Keep tracking devices with you
Air Tags, Apple’s portable tracking devices, are ridiculously expensive, and for people with Androids, Air Tags aren’t exactly compatible. So invest in a physical tracker, like a Tile or a GEGO. Keep it on your person or in a backpack in case you lose your phone, so that you can be tracked.
But also, put one in your luggage. In case your luggage gets lost on transferring flights, you can look and find exactly where your luggage ended up, instead of waiting in really long lines, waiting for people to make phone calls to try and figure out which airport your luggage accidentally went to.
10. Don’t travel alone
Anyone and everyone can become a victim of a crime, especially if you don’t know where you are and can’t find your way out. Wifi doesn’t always work. Statistically, people are less likely to be attacked or robbed if they travel in groups. Even if you’re running down the street to pick up food from a location close to your hotel or rented condo, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you absolutely must travel alone, text or call someone you know will answer and let them know where you are going, and check in with them throughout the trip. Make sure you get to your destination and back, that way if anything goes wrong, that person can contact the police as soon as possible. Safety is the most important thing when it comes to traveling to new places.
Stay safe this summer, have fun planning your vacations and enjoy the summer sunshine.