With all the ups and downs of travel being reported in the news, we decided to talk to travel agent Lisa Bennett with Expand Your Horizons Travel about what we should know before we book that dream trip.
As travel continues to open up, what have been some recent changes in restrictions?
Things are getting so much better. The biggest change in restrictions has been that there are fewer and fewer of them as time goes by. Another major change happened in June when the US government decided that people no longer needed a negative Covid test to enter the United States. This is huge for both travelers from overseas as well as Americans wanting to travel internationally as it removed a big hurdle of stress and inconvenience.
Do you have any thoughts on whether people should avoid international travel, or do you feel like it’s okay to book your dream trip?
As far as international travel goes, I believe that people should do what they are comfortable with. If you’re not yet ready to travel overseas, there are plenty of great things to see and do in our own country. And if you are ready to go, just make sure you take whatever precautions you need in order to feel comfortable. That dream trip will be much dreamier if you’re prepared and comfortable with the situation wherever you’re going.
What have been some of your favorite destinations?
This is a super hard question! I don’t really have a favorite because each destination offers different benefits and enjoyment. But some at the top of my list are Italy, Japan and Croatia. In fact, I loved Croatia so much that I’m currently putting together a small-group food and wine focused trip to Croatia for September 2023!
Can you give us some travel suggestions regarding price point?
When it comes to price point, everyone’s idea of what they consider budget-friendly is different. And something important to keep in mind when planning travel right now is that pricing is much higher than what it was pre-pandemic.
For more budget-friendly trips, there’s plenty to see and do domestically. To save money, try to travel during an off-peak time and get to know which airlines have the most flights out of your home airport. If you’re lucky enough to have multiple airports near you, be flexible on which one you fly out of. If you live near a cruise port, keep your eyes open for last-minute deals from the cruise lines. They sometimes offer specials that only really work for folks who can easily drive to the port.
If you’ve got a little more money to spend, the above still applies, but it does open things up a bit more. If you’re a beach person like me, Mexico has many options at a lot of different price points and a cruise could be a great option for folks who want to go to the Caribbean. If you’re more of a winter fan, you can look at planning a ski vacation in Colorado or Canada.
And for those who are finally ready to plan their dream trip, the whole world is out there waiting for you. If you haven’t been to Italy yet, there’s tons to see and do there. And I recently had the opportunity to visit Greece for the first time and would highly recommend visiting the Greek islands. Mykonos was a favorite of mine.
2022 has been a little rough on travel with staffing issues and lingering Covid fallout. Do you have any recommendations for navigating this turbulent time? (Pun intended.) How can a travel agent help?
Yes, the past few years have definitely been challenging for the travel industry. But things are looking up for the industry as a whole. In 2022, the demand for travel has come roaring back as restrictions have eased around the world.
Unfortunately, supply isn’t quite where it needs to be yet. All sectors of the travel industry (airlines, hotels and resorts, tour providers) are still trying to staff back up. For this reason, airline schedules are constantly changing, lines at airports are long and luggage handling has been a nightmare. Hotels don’t have all their staff back yet either, so there can be long lines to check in or you might have to wait longer for service at a restaurant.
If you’re going to travel, the best advice I can give is to pack your patience. Remember that everyone working in the airports, hotels and other travel services is doing the best they can, and they really do want you to have an amazing trip.
Here are a few more tips:
- Sign up for your airline’s text notifications so you can be notified when flight times change.
- Arrive early at the airport.
- Make sure your luggage has tags with your contact info both outside and inside your bag.
- Pack a change of clothes in your carryon bag.
- And I love electronic trackers for my luggage so I can see that it’s moving through the airport and getting to where it needs to go.
- Make sure you know the latest rules for travel at your destination and be prepared to follow those. Things are still changing constantly and that will probably continue into the foreseeable future.
There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to travel, and this is one of the areas where a travel agent can help. We can tap into all our resources to guide you to the current travel rules for your destination and we have relationships with suppliers and other travel agents that can guide us through some of the sticky points. We’re here for you while you’re traveling to help if things get messy so you can enjoy your vacation while we work on getting any issues resolved.
But working with a travel agent isn’t just about avoiding the bad stuff. A good travel agent will take the time to get to know you and what you want to get out of your trip. We’ll do the research to find the destination/resort/flights/excursions that best meet your desires and your budget. And we’ll advise you if there are things you might want to consider about when and where you travel. Most of us are in the travel business because we love planning travel and love matching the traveler with the best vacation options for them. It’s a great feeling when a client sends a message from their trip saying what an amazing vacation they’re having!
ABOUT LISA BENNETT
With Expand Your Horizons Travel, no detail of your trip is overlooked. And as your personal travel advisor, I will be here for you before, during and after your trip.
I am a proud partner with MyTravel4Ever and an affiliate with KHM Travel Group, a network of the very best travel agents and suppliers worldwide. Via these affiliations, I can often secure special benefits that you can’t get on your own, such as complimentary meals, spa credits and upgrades at hotels. When you book with me, you get the benefit of my worldwide network as well!
One of my favorite things about traveling the world is experiencing the local foods and beverages and learning about new cultures. Anthony Bourdain once said, “I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable” and I agree. If we let it, travel can open our eyes, our minds and our hearts to different and amazing ways of experiencing life.
If you’d like to work with me or learn more about what I do, you can reach me via my contact form at https://www.cognitoforms.com/ExpandYourHorizonsTravel/INeedAVacationContactForm or follow me on Facebook @expandyourhorizonstravel.