BOISE – As the COVID-19 omicron variant, winter weather, staffing shortages, and other challenges continue to affect travelers, AAA offers tips to successfully weather the storm.

“The best travel experiences have always required careful planning, and travel during the pandemic is no exception,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.  “You may have to take a few extra precautions, but it’s still possible to reduce your stress and have a fantastic vacation.”

What to know before traveling in 2022

  • Plan ahead. Anticipate the possibility of delays or additional expenses due to flight cancelations or quarantine requirements.
  • Pack smart. Bring N95 or KN95 masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and disposable gloves in your carry-on bag.
  • Purchase travel insurance that specifically provides coverage for travel interruptions and additional expenses due to COVID-19.
  • Keep your family and credit card providers in the loop. Share your plans, including where you’ll be going and for how long, so that loved ones can act on your behalf if needed and to reduce the risk of frozen credit accounts due to unusual activity.
  • Store photos of your vaccination card and other important travel documents on your phone as a backup.

“Those who have made travel plans on their own face the difficult task of re-booking trips, seeking reimbursements or alternate transportation, and staying current on rapidly-changing conditions that could impact their vacation,” Conde said.  “Relying on a trusted travel agent can take a lot of frustration out of the process.”

What to know before you catch a plane

Winter weather and the rapid spread of omicron have led to staff shortages and flight cancellations.  When flights are delayed, it can create a domino effect that makes it challenging for stranded passengers to rebook.  AAA recommends the following:

  • Book the first flight in the morning. Because of how routes are set up, early morning flights are less likely to be affected by cancellations and delays.
  • Check-in online 24 hours in advance. Add the airline app to your phone to stay informed.
  • Under federal law, you are entitled to a full refund if you request it. However, if a flight is canceled or delayed, the airline must try to rebook passengers on a later flight.

What to know before you cruise

Currently, the CDC advises the public to avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status.  However, cruise lines have diligently implemented rigorous health and safety programs.  For those who still intend to cruise:

  • If you plan to postpone, contact the cruise line early. Cruising is one of the most popular modes of travel, and there is a lot of pent-up demand.  Dates will fill up fast as conditions improve this spring and summer.
  • Know what to expect. Limitations on ports, excursions, and on-board activities may be in effect.  Plan for health and safety protocols such as testing or daily self-health assessments.  A professional travel agent can provide further information.
  • As with all travel modes, review vaccine and testing requirements before you book.

What to know before booking a hotel

  • Check cancellation and/or change policies before you make a reservation.
  • Ask about amenities. Housekeeping, food service, and recreational facilities may be available on a limited basis.
  • Stay safe. Ask about contactless options such as mobile check-in/check-out, virtual keys, and room service.

AAA driving tips

  • Bring a well-stocked emergency kit, including protein snacks, water, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, flares or reflectors, an ice scraper, a collapsible shovel, and warm clothing or blankets.
  • If you need to run your car while you wait for help, conserve fuel by using the heater just long enough to reduce the chill. Make sure the tailpipe is clear of snow and other debris.
  • If safe to do so, stay in your vehicle.
  • Avoid driving on shoulders and medians to get around a traffic jam. These areas should be kept clear for tow trucks and other emergency vehicles.
  • Slow down below the speed limit, and if possible, move over if you approach an emergency vehicle at the side of the road.

AAA’s 2022 Travel Trends

After two years of travel restrictions and postponed trips, many Americans are ready for a vacation.  At the same time, the way people think about travel has changed.  Look for these trends in 2022:

  1. Pent-up demand. Travel in 2021 was just below pre-pandemic levels for every major holiday.  This year, popular international destinations will include iconic locations in Europe such as London, Paris, and Rome, while others will flock to beach destinations in Mexico and across the Caribbean.  Domestically, many Americans will head to Hawaii, Florida, Las Vegas, and Alaska, while others will visit the National Parks or a theme park.
  2. Thinking big. Expectations are high that 2022 will provide opportunities for the trip of a lifetime.  World cruises, luxury resorts, an African safari, and flying first class may figure into some Americans’ travel plans.
  3. Family gatherings. People plan to catch up with friends and family that they haven’t seen in a long time.  Last year brought phrases like “revenge travel” and “vaxication,” and 2022 may be the year of the “friendcation.”
  4. Sustainable and high-tech tourism. More travelers are looking for efficient and tech-savvy ways to explore their world while reducing their impact on popular destinations.