AAA gives travel advice for 2022
washington d.c. – AAA says so far this year, flight cancellations, winter weather and the COVID-19 omicron variant have all combined to create the perfect storm for travelers.
However, AAA’s travel advice makes it easy to travel during the pandemic without losing your mind or your money.
What you need to know before traveling in 2022
- Anticipate expenses related to delays and cancellations, including the possibility of having to stay longer in the event of a blockage.
- Pack N95 or KN95 masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and disposable gloves in your hand luggage and make sure it is easily accessible.
- Purchase travel insurance that specifically covers trip interruptions and additional expenses due to COVID-19.
- Notify credit card providers of your travel details (specify location and duration) to reduce the risk of cards being blocked due to unusual activity.
- Have photos of your vaccination card and other important documents (like your passport) on your phone as a backup.
- Understand your destination’s COVID-19 restrictions and requirements, including whether you will need to be tested before leaving and/or returning home. If so, make an appointment for a COVID-19 PCR test at least one month before departure and ensure that the date of your results meets the deadline set by your destination (i.e. 1 day, 3 days). AAA suggests requesting a QR code from the PCR tester as more destinations require it.
What to know about Travel Agents: They’re back in style
The internet has given travelers the independence to book their flights, cruises, hotels, tours, rental cars, etc., but it has also forced them to go it alone when things go wrong. As recent events have shown, travelers benefit from having an expert on hand when all or part of their trip is delayed or canceled without notice. Another bonus, if you are an AAA member, the services provided by a travel agent are a member benefit.
A trusted travel agent can:
- Save time, money AND stress managing details, researching travel restrictions or changes, and coordinating plans within your travel group.
- Advise and defend you before, during and after a trip. Their extensive knowledge, training, expertise and experience help you better understand today’s sometimes complicated landscape.
- Match the right travel insurance that meets your specific needs and budget.
- Intervene on your behalf when you need to cancel or postpone a trip due to circumstances beyond your control.
- Quickly find alternative flights or accommodations for you if you find yourself stranded in a crowded airport.
What you need to know about travel insurance: it protects your trip AND your wallet
There are a variety of policies to choose from depending on the type of trip, destination and mode of travel. The expertise of a travel agent can guide you on the best options, including whether specific destinations require visitors to purchase travel insurance. Insurance can add a little to the overall cost of the trip, but the peace of mind it provides is priceless.
What to know when your flight is grounded
In recent weeks, travelers have faced daily flight delays and cancellations due to wintry weather and airline staff shortages, including those caused by the omicron variant of COVID-19. Often, when many flights are canceled or delayed, it causes a domino effect, making it difficult to rebook stranded passengers.
AAA recommends that you do the following to reduce your chances of being punished:
- Book the first flight in the morning. Due to the way routes are planned and crews set up, early morning flights are less likely to encounter cancellation or delay issues.
- Check in online 24 hours in advance and enable airline notifications on your mobile device in the event of an issue requiring a change in plans.
- If a flight is cancelled, the airline must try to adapt by rebooking passengers on another flight. However, under federal law, you are entitled to a full refund if you request it. It might take some time to get that money back, because more cancellations mean more people asking for refunds.
What to know when the high seas are calling you
Cruising, more than other modes of transport, has faced the greatest number of challenges since the start of the pandemic. Cruise lines have responded by implementing strict safety protocols, working closely with the CDC, and adapting these practices as new variants emerge. All with the aim of making it as safe as possible for passengers and crew.
AAA offers the following advice when considering a cruise, either now or in the future:
- If you’re considering rescheduling a scheduled cruise, AAA recommends contacting cruise lines early to get the best selection of dates for future sailings. Demand is already pent up and dates will book up quickly as conditions improve.
- Currently, the CDC advises travelers to avoid cruise travel, regardless of their vaccination status. For those who still intend to go on a cruise:
- AAA strongly recommends working with a travel agent to understand what to expect on board; limitations on ports, excursions and onboard activities; and changes to safety protocols, including daily self-health tests or assessments for travelers who still wish to cruise.
- Follow CDC guidelines, which include being fully vaccinated and/or getting a COVID-19 vaccine booster if eligible before the cruise.
What to know when booking accommodation
Always confirm your hotel’s cancellation and/or change policies before locking a reservation, so you are not surprised by unexpected penalties.
AAA also suggests that you inquire about the following when booking your accommodation:
- Do they offer contactless services such as mobile check-in/out, virtual keys, and room service?
- Can you request housekeeping based on your personal preference?
- Are the amenities like restaurants, gym, spa and pool open? What are the hours and security protocols in place?
What you need to know before hitting the road
Nobody wants to spend 27 hours stuck on a snowy highway, like what happened recently in Virginia. However, if you find yourself stuck in a similar situation, you should:
- Stop your car engine if it is clear that the traffic jam could be long. It is normal to turn on the vehicle sporadically to warm up the passenger compartment.
- Stay in your vehicle to avoid falling or being hit by an approaching vehicle or a chain reaction of colliding cars. If you must get out of the car, make sure the surroundings are safe.
- Avoid riding on highway shoulders or medians to avoid traffic jams. These must be cleared so that first responders, tow trucks and emergency vehicles can get to the cause of the stoppage.
- For EV drivers, cold weather can strain a battery, so schedule more frequent stops for charging and identify the location of charging stations before hitting the road. AAA recommends “preheating” the interior of your electric vehicle to a comfortable temperature while still connected to the charger. This will reduce the demand on the vehicle’s battery to regulate the cabin temperature at the start of driving.
- Check the weather before you hit the road and change your plans accordingly. Also, always pack a well-stocked emergency kit which should have a cell phone car charger, first aid kit; extra blankets, hats, gloves and coats; plenty of drinking water and non-perishable snacks for passengers, including pets; flashlight and extra batteries; reflective warning triangles; and an ice scraper or snow brush.
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AAA provides more than 62 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 30 automobile clubs and more than 1,000 branches in North America. Since 1902, the non-profit, fully taxable AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility.
Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel, or plot a route through the AAA Mobile app. To register, go to AAA.com.