travel

Want to Book a Trip? Tips from Local Travel Agents During Pandemic

NBC Universal, Inc.

There are travel deals to be had, but with the pandemic still causing uncertainty, travelers need to have all of the information before booking that vacation.

First it was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. Now it’s Travel Tuesday, a day where there’s lots of deals on destinations.

With a new variant and Covid protocols constantly changing, local travel agents we spoke to say make smart travel plans, so don’t just bite on the best deal.

“Nonrefundable rates are definitely a risk and we do not like to book them, especially far in advance,” said Melissa Albright the vice president of Wethersfield Travel.

With so many unknowns, should you still plan ahead? She says, yes.

Albright says travel demand has been taking off the past couple of months.

“I’m always a fan of booking ahead because especially now with all the pent-up demand for travel, space is limited.”

For example, she says Cancun is one of the most popular vacation spots for passengers flying out of Bradley International Airport.

But if you want to go in April during school vacation, she says you’re probably out of luck. The best flights are booked.

Another tip: have safeguards in place so if you have to make a change so you don’t lose cash.

Agents we spoke to strongly recommend travel insurance, but read the fine print.

“Selecting the right policy that’s going to cover the things most important to you and to fit your needs,” said Dianne Bourgoin, AAA Travel Spokesperson.

Make sure the policy covers what is most important to you. Does it cover pre-existing conditions? Does it include “cancel for any reason” coverage? What happens if the country you’ve scheduled a trip to gets included on the CDC’s travel restriction list? These are some of the questions you need to ask.

Also, beware of bundle deals. They’re easy to book, but if a flight needs to be rescheduled, it can become a headache.

Make sure to stay up on the covid protocols and procedures at your destination. Hiring a travel agent can help with that.

“Understand and knowing what your testing requirements are. Do you need to be vaccinated or do you need to quarantine when you get to your destination?,” said Bourgoin.

Don’t expect cancellation policies that became common at the start of the coronavirus crisis to still be in effect, like extended rebooking periods.

So they reiterate make sure to read the fine print for whatever you book: plane, train, and automobiles.

“I think in these days insurance and patience and just being flexible with all the changes that are happening is very important,” said Albright.

If having to get a negative a covid test to enter or exit a country makes you too anxious, she says that’s probably not the place for you.

“You don’t want somebody to be anxious about their trip. They want to look forward to it.”

Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection sent over these tips:

  • Read the terms of any purchase – understand the refund and cancellation policy before you book
  • Be aware ahead of time of any COVID-19 protocols. Masks are still required in airports and on airplanes, so be prepared.
  • Do your research to determine if you might want travel insurance. This comes with understanding the refund and cancellation policies.