For the average Jack and Joe, travel has been off-limits since March of 2020; however, I’m a bit more adventurous than the average bear, so pandemic travel has become my new obsession. In 2020 alone, I traveled to 9 countries, experienced some oldies but goodies in a whole new way, and spent nearly every month exploring a new culture. We all thought we’d be back to normal by now, but with new variants popping up like Google Ads, we might as well get comfortable for the ride. Now that we can be sure that this pandemic thing might actually be just a new way of life, what will we do in 2022? Will we continue limiting travel to a trip from the sofa to the refrigerator or will we strap on our thinking caps and figure out how to make this thing work? This is THE GO GRL! YOU ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER! So let me tell you about my travel forecast and some of the tools I’m using to continue exploring mother earth this 2022.
Listen to my dramatic reading of this articleListen to “2022 Travel Forecast -Tools for Happy Travel” on Spreaker. https://widget.spreaker.com/widgets.js
To Infinity and Beyond
Asalamalakum! Marhaban! This year I’m interested in exploring the east: that is the Middle East and Asia. The Middle East because I’m studying Arabic and I’m excited to get in the express lane for faster fluency. I’m also interested in getting to know Middle Eastern culture for myself. As I’ve traveled the world for the past 15 years, I’ve learned that there are gaping holes between what I learned as “the truth” in American schools and the reality that I encounter for myself. After touching down in Africa about eight years ago and seeing all of the beauty, technology, and development that is never shown on television, I decided that I would never accept what I’ve been taught as the truth, but rather go out and discover it for myself.
And Asia? Well, one day in 2020 my children found chopsticks in our silverware draw, demanded to eat noodles for dinner, and informed me that we would visit China someday soon, so they needed to practice their chopsticks skills. That moment tickles me to this day, but I’m very serious about listening to my children and working hard to gift them experiences that grow them into empathetic, open-minded people. So yea…Asia.
Planning a vacation used to be such a simple and joyful task, but nowadays I feel like I’m preparing a military defense against all of the possible unforeseens that can pop up when we least expect them: documentation, rules, testing, restricted areas, delays, vaccinations, declarations, insurances, quarantine, and the list never ends. Just when you think you’ve got it down to a science…the tenth wave. Anyway, with all of the uncertainty, I’ve found a few of the following tips to be absolute musts for keeping your travel stress-free in 2022:
- Book travel directly: third-party platforms used to be my jam! But these days they are my mortal enemies. I’ve been canceled after confirmation, I’ve had to fight for refunds and don’t even get me started on the “NO-par” service. Instead of using third-party booking platforms, which offer almost no benefit these days, pay a few more bucks and book directly with your preferred airline, your preferred lodging company and any other rental agencies you plan to use.
- Book with the big boys: all airlines are struggling, but the smaller ones put up a bigger fight when it comes to making changes and receiving your rightfully owed refunds. Swiss Airlines has been phenomenal. United Airlines, totally solid. Air Europa? Disaster! Air Europa wrongfully denied me boarding in Madrid to Argentina, left me to sleep in a freezing cold airport in February and fought with me for 6 months before partially refunded my ticket. Note: Iberia boarded me on their next flight for the same destination and I was allowed into the country with no problem AGAIN after having traveled there less than 30 days before said trip via Air Europa with the; same documentation *eye roll*. After this I did a lot of research and became very familiar with my rights as a passenger. Continue reading and I’ll tell you about two rights you MUST know about.
- Buy the flex ticket: I used to always go for the most economical options as I fly everywhere all the time and always get upgraded to the comfiest seats anyway, but after a crazy couple of years, I began paying a little bit extra for the ease of flexibility. You might be sure about your plans, but you never know what’s happening in Far Far Away Land or with the folks you might be visiting. It’s definitely worth it to pay a bit extra.
- Travel Light: Unless your 2015 Lady Gaga or a budding Kim Kardashian, I don’t know why you need all that luggage anyway. Some people just swear by “options”. These days traveling light will save your life and your sanity, now more than ever, pack light. I’ve always been a carry-on-only traveler anyway, but these days with airlines short-staffed, a pissed-off mother nature and worldwide instability you’ll travel more peacefully with carry-on. Note: United Airlines is charging $35 for carry-ons. #hardtimes
- Travel Direct : direct flights are few and far between these days, but if you can manage to get a direct flight, GRAB IT! Nothing simpifies your adventure more than cutting out as many middle men as you can handle. Guess what? You get a link! And you get a link! Here’s a link to find most direct path to your next destination.
Know Your Rights
These days, as airlines struggle to hold onto every penny, they are counting on your ignorance to secure their revenues. Here are two rules that will save you from losing out on what’s yours:
- 24-Hour Cancelations are Free for All: Did you know that is a rule set by the Department of Transportation that you are owed your total fare without so much as a penny deducted if you cancel your booking within 24 hours, no matter the airline, no matter the country? Many do not know this – including the employees of airline companies- but it is true and you MUST be refunded.
- Article 7 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004: Article 7, published in the early 2000s, established a list of standardized rules and regulations to address airlines’ responsibility when it comes to cancellations, wrongful boarding denials, overbooking, and more. Click and read, because you and your family could be owed 600 euros each or more if you’ve been inconvenienced through no fault of your own.
Time to Explore
This year, like the last two years that just crept by, will be full of new norms and surprises I’m sure. To vax or not vax? That is the question. To drive or fly private? Yet another question. To go far or stay near? Too many questions to count. No matter what you decide, life is too short for fear, so I hope that you’ll take my tips, enjoy my videos as you click around the website, be encouraged to get out in the world and carpe diem.