If you’ve been reading these columns for the past few months, I’ve been making the point that we were on the cusp of a renaissance in travel after over a year of tight restrictions. Since last month, the tense of my point has changed. No longer were we on the cusp of a renaissance, now, we are in the midst of a renaissance in travel, and frankly, it’s a bit like all hell as broken loose in the industry. In many ways, that’s a better problem to have than the alternative, but the sudden explosion of demand for travel – which is now fully underway – poses many challenges to travelers looking to break out after the past year. Here are three tips to make your 2021, 2022, and 2023 travels smooth.
Tip 1 – Plan Ahead. Planning ahead has always been a virtue for travelers, typically offering the best choice of accommodations, flights, and touring as well as the best prices. But, in the pre-Covid world, it was typically possible to create a trip at the last minute with a few tradeoffs. Those days are gone.
Today, planning ahead is an absolute necessity, as space of all types is at an extreme premium. To cite a very concrete example – perhaps you saw the news stories recently about last-minute travelers being forced to resort to renting U-Haul trucks in Hawaii because every rental car was booked? Add into the mix the shortage of new rental vehicles due to a global microchip shortage, the fact that many rental car companies liquidated a large portion of their fleet last year, and know that Hawaii’s peak tourist season has yet to come… And this is just one example among hundreds. Don’t be a loser in this race for space – which I think will continue for at least the next 18-24 months – plan way ahead.
Tip 2 – Get to Work on your Bucket List. All of us have ideas of places we’d love to go and experiences we’d love to have while traveling. Now is definitely the time to start planning to check some of these items off your list. As I noted, we’re already in a race for space. A second factor is coming into play now, the desire on the part of popular tourist destinations to significantly limit visitors.
Whether perennial favorites like Venice in Italy, America’s National Parks or the Louvre art museum in Paris or whether more exotic locales like the Galapagos Islands, the Inca Trail in Peru and Antarctica, many destinations are imposing strict limits on the number and types of visitors permitted. The age of mass tourism anytime and everywhere is ending, which will place further pressure on the space available for your bucket list trips.
Tip 3 – Forget the Word “Deal.” As the race for space continues to accelerate this year and next, we won’t be talking much about deals. That’s not to say that low prices won’t be available for some travel components (think Spirit Airlines), but the tradeoffs you’ll have to embrace to get them will become increasingly burdensome. For most of us, paying $59 to fly to Florida at 2 a.m. (plus $35 for a checked bag, $20 for a seat assignment, $4 for a cup of coffee, etc.) isn’t worth it. Travel brands of all sorts – airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour companies – understand this, and are pricing their services accordingly. Price inflation in travel is very real, and when combined with the race for space, travel in 2021, 2022, and 2023 will certainly be a seller’s market.
Savvy travelers who plan ahead, think strategically about where they want to go, and are ready to pay the price for the best travel options can look forward to unforgettable vacations in 2021, 2022, and 2023. I’d encourage you to start planning those trips now, so that you can be a winner in the race for space – with the added bonus of having a fantastic vacation locked in to look forward to in the months and even years ahead.