Eager consumers dusted off their luggage this summer and took full advantage of looser travel restrictions. However, with Labor Weekend approaching, the delta variant, aka the “fourth wave,” is causing everyone to think twice before booking their next trip or even canceling altogether. According to the latest data, the delta variant has negatively impacted upcoming travel plans for one in four Americans.
Each state will start setting its own guidelines, mask mandates, and potential travel restrictions. Hawaii has already tightened its social distancing requirements and is now asking travelers to delay all non-essential travel through the end of October. Cities across the country are asking for proof of vaccination to enter certain indoor venues, too.
Whether you’re flying or driving, if traveling is included in your fall plans, these tips can help add some certainty to your trip:
Research travel restrictions. Guidelines and mandates vary by state and country. Plus, they’re constantly changing. Visit the U.S. State Department’s "Know Before You Go" page and the CDC Travel Planner to get up-to-date information on any travel restrictions related to COVID-19.
Plan accordingly whether or not you’ve been vaccinated. It is very likely you will be asked for either a vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test to get on an airline, enter a destination or attend a major event. Keep your vaccination card secure and also take a picture in case you lose it. International travel may even require a digital vaccine passport, so be sure to have the documentation you need.
Understand the risk of purchasing discounted tickets. Plane ticket prices will likely start to go back down after the summer peak. As tempting as they may be, discounted tickets rarely provide refunds and will likely charge you if you cancel or reschedule. Be willing to pay extra for fully refundable flights, car rentals, and accommodations.
Know what travel insurance covers. Purchasing travel insurance is wise, but it may not cover every situation. You have the option to add insurance directly with the airline when you purchase your ticket, or you can purchase travel insurance from a third party. The level of coverage varies depending on which option you go with, so choose the plan you are most comfortable with. Read the fine print so you understand how your policy works. Hiring a travel agent to help you navigate the process may not be a bad idea either.
What about transportation and lodging? The summer travel surge boosted demand for car rentals and short-term vacation rentals, hurting consumers’ wallets and making it very difficult to book both. The earlier you start looking the better. Be sure the short-term vacation rental you’re looking at isn’t a dupe and seek potential alternatives in case renting a car is too expensive.
Take precautions before and after your trip. During the 14 days leading up to your trip, avoid situations that could put you at risk for infection, such as attending large group events or using public transportation, recommends the CDC. Then, get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before you travel and keep a copy of your negative test results with you. After your trip, get tested again 3-5 days after arriving home and make plans to self-quarantine for 7 days after travel, regardless of your test results.
BBB can Help
Before doing business or making a purchase, always research the company at BBB.org. Look for things like any possible complaints, and customer reviews. You can also submit a complaint in case a company is not honoring a policy after a flight cancellation or null event tickets.
Traveling this summer? Leave a comment to let us know tips could help your upcoming trip.