Minimum Backup Plan You Must Have for a 2021 Vacation

This is not good for the 2021 tourist season. Even if you’ve booked flights, rental cars or hotel rooms months in advance, the speed at which things are changing in the travel industry means that having a ticket or booking doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your trip will go as planned. …

Between potential weather issues, COVID regulations that could change at any time, staff shortages, and the fact that last year’s flexible booking and cancellation policies are largely a thing of the past, it’s best to start the season with some kind of backup plan. In an article for the Associated Press, Sally French discussed several different ways to prepare this year. Here’s what you need to know.

If you are flying, approach the trip with the assumption that your plans will change.

It’s not even Thanksgiving, and air travel is already (still?) Unreliable. For this reason, French suggests preparing for the trip to extend it a bit, so you can be flexible about your plans as a whole.

A slightly different approach (aka mine) is simply to assume that your plans will change between delayed or canceled flights when the rental companies provide the person in front of you with the car you have reserved – and the like. And then, at random, that things are going according to plan, you will be grateful for the additional ones, and it will look like a miracle holiday.

Limit your carry-on baggage

Again, if you are traveling by plane, French recommends packing your essentials in your carry-on bag, if at all possible. That way, if your flights end up changing, you won’t be stuck without your stuff.

Invest in travel insurance

Even if you always click “No thanks” when offered travel insurance when booking flights, French says it’s time to take a different approach this holiday season (and actually get insurance).

First, check to see if any of your credit cards come with travel insurance as a perk – and if so, make sure the plan isn’t junk and does leave you covered. If you don’t have the option, it’s time to click yes to buy travel insurance (or at least explore your options).

Have at least one alternative route and mode of transport.

Unlike Moira Rose in Home Alone, most people won’t have the opportunity to get into the polka-dot band van to return home for the holidays. This means that if you plan to fly somewhere, you should arrive at the airport with a fully thought out contingency plan. Now is not the time to look for an outlet and do some preliminary research on your phone: this is what you need to do at home.

If you can get to your destination, find out which car rental companies operate in the area and know (roughly) how long the trip will take. You can try to set a price for different companies, but if your flight is canceled, other people will end up in the same boat and the costs are likely to increase significantly.

You will also want to know what other airlines fly to (or near) your destination and their flight times, so you know exactly where to book another ticket if needed.

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