Experts offer these tips for traveling this summer and fall:
— If you see a deal you like, take it. It may not last.
— Whether you’re traveling inside the United States or beyond, be prepared for delays. Keep your toothbrush, all medications and a change of essentials in your carry-on luggage. Get to the airport early, and avoid checking luggage if possible.
— Pay attention to emails from your airline. Some alert you to flight cancellations or changes; others advise how to upload vaccination documents in advance to cut your time in the airport line.
— Got extra time? Check the deals for giving up your seat. Miami lawyer Michelle Niemeyer snagged $950 in airline credit by trading her seat on a recent flight from Boston to Miami for one on a flight 90 minutes later.
— If you’re traveling abroad, be aware that many countries require vaccination; check details at travel.state.gov. Foreign citizens who are not U.S. residents are still required to be vaccinated and to test before entering the U.S.
— Use airfare tracking sites (such as farecompare.com, smartertravel.com, skyscanner.com or airfarewatchdog.com) to stay up to date with fares on your favorite routes.
— If you have a preferred cruise line, sign up for its email blasts. If not, ask a cruise agent to find you a bargain that will suit your needs.
— All travelers on U.S. cruises are required to be vaccinated; most lines also require a negative COVID test 48 hours in advance of sailing.
— Consider using a travel agent or booking a tour. If you get delayed or into a jam, the agent or operator is there to help.
— If you’re booking a cruise, tour or making substantial payments up front, think about travel insurance that covers delays, disruption, medical costs and evacuation. Now-common airline delays can upend plans. A medical evacuation can cost more than $100,000. Medicare does not cover U.S. citizens traveling overseas. Be sure you use a highly rated independent insurance company — not a division of your travel supplier. Talking with a qualified agent before you buy your policy is highly advised as policies and benefits vary widely; be sure to pay attention to preexisting medical exclusions. Two good places to start: insuremytrip.com, squaremouth.com.
— Hotels and flights typically are least expensive for midweek travel. The exception is in business-oriented cities, where hotels may offer weekend deals.
— The cheapest day to buy airfares is now Thursday, according to media.hopper.com.
— Before you book your flight, check for additional fees for seat assignments, carry-on bags and check luggage to determine the full price. Travel advocate Christopher Elliot recommends forgoing offers to purchase checked bags in advance and instead just take them to the airport; often the airline will offer to check for free.
— If you travel more than a few times a year, it may be worth enrolling in the Trusted Traveler program or Global Entry ($100). Both provide TSA Pre service, which has dedicated security lanes at major airports that allow you to leave computers in your bag and keep your shoes on. Global Entry allows you to speed through passport checks with the aid of an electronic kiosk.