We spoke with travel experts in St. Louis to find out how to get the most out of your PTO this year.
ST. LOUIS – Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, when you might have a vacation in mind. Last summer’s plans were to be very different – so what does travel look like in 2021?
We consulted the experts: Dea Hoover, owner of Are we there already? Guided tours and author of “STL Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for St. Louis’s Hidden Treasures”, and Unlimited planetary travelShannon Lichti, President and Founder, and Mackenzie Taylor.
All advised to take advantage of travel this year, especially with unused PTO or travel budgets from 2020.
“Treat yourself. You know, it’s time to do it,” Hoover said.
Taylor said she is helping people plan many “choice trips,” the vacations they had postponed for years but after a year of lockdown are set to come true..
“More and more people come asking us for these trips because, like last year, either they’ve saved up or they’re just like, well, we don’t know what’s going to happen next. I might as well take this trip, ”she said.
Whether it’s a visit with loved ones, a well-deserved getaway with friends, a family vacation to a favorite destination, or that trip on the to-do list, here are their best take-out meals. to make 2021 more adventurous.
Planning will save you money.
“Booking early is the best way to save money and travel, not just now, but anytime,” Lichti said. “Your cheapest prices will be about nine months in advance, including airline tickets, and then they will slowly start to climb. Especially with airfares, around three months or so they’re going to go down, but after that they’re going to go up sharply.
“If you’re basing your trip on your budget, maybe take three short trips instead of one long trip,” Hoover said.
Be flexible with your plans, especially with possible flight changes.
“The flights are canceled because if a flight is not full, they will cancel the flight they use. It could change your arrival dates, things of that nature, ”Lichti said.
Check, verify and verify three times.
It is important to regularly review details before travel, including monitoring for email updates and checking the airline’s app or website.
“Once you book something, keep confirming,” Hoover said. Tour operators will do this for you, but she knows a friend who travels independently; she said he and his wife changed flights from the one they originally booked, and their three children under eleven were re-booked on a completely different flight.
“And Southwest has a new system that really has a lot of cool features, but it doesn’t send emails saying we’ve changed your flight. You will therefore have to confirm and confirm. “
Check with local health departments for the latest recommendations on COVID-19 – or the State Department for international destinations. Some do not yet allow travel or are limited; many destinations will have requirements for proof of vaccination, quarantine or a negative COVID-19 test on arrival.
“I don’t recommend people to travel anywhere, even a two hour drive without being vaccinated. You are putting everyone at risk, ”Lichti said.
Opt for travel insurance that allows you to “cancel at any time”.
While it may not have helped at the onset of the pandemic, changes to most policies mean it’s a good option again.
“Travel insurance didn’t cover anything at the start of the pandemic because you’re right, it was ‘an act of God.’ Much like the rest of the travel industry, travel insurance has realized it has to do something. What if various companies have added policies, ”Lichti said. “So you really need to shop around and make sure that if you can’t be flexible, you take out travel insurance, especially under ‘cancel anytime’.”
Be creative with your ride….
With a shortage of rental cars, the prices can be astronomical; try booking a ride through an app like Turo that lets you rent someone’s personal vehicle (think Uber for cars). However, be aware that with this comes a bit of unpredictability.
“You are at the mercy of them who show up with the car,” Hoover said.
… But stay classic with your accommodation.
When it comes to a place to stay, hotels may be the cheapest as they seek to re-fill the rooms.
“Airbnb is always an option, but I would try to pick hotels right now just because there are so many hotels that need people,” Taylor said. “And so they’re doing really good sales and things like that right now.”
You also won’t have to deal with the cleaning fee or the headache of a last minute cancellation of a private rental.
Hoover even suggests saving more money by staying with friends and family on our travels; “I don’t think we’re upset that people are staying with us,” she laughs.
Don’t miss out on trips you’ve already paid for.
If your plans were canceled last year, read the fine print to make sure you don’t lose your travel credit.
“My personal opinion is that they have to book by December 2021. You will lose your credits,” Lichti said. “You can go in 2022 or 2023, whenever you can book the flight, but you have to do it before the expiration date,” Taylor adds.
Let your credits plan your vacation.
“Find out when you have free time and see where [the airline] fly inexpensively and then they make the decision for you, ”Hoover said. “I would suggest maybe going somewhere you’ve never thought of and you’ll probably really like it.”
Remember that “getting back to normal” is also a journey.
Tourism and hospitality people make your free time more enjoyable. Don’t complicate their jobs as they face changing health and safety demands and, in some cases, staff shortages.
“Be positive. And if you can’t be positive, stay home,” Hoover said.