By Raychel Stewart
Signal Staff Writer
As the state’s economy reopens and COVID-19 vaccine distribution increases, people might find themselves looking for ways to save money while planning a vacation after stay-at-home orders held back travel for more than a year.
Summer months are always thought of as the perfect time to take a vacation as children are out of school and the weather is warm, whether it be to a resort or a theme park. However, it could also be the most expensive time to travel, said Ted Bradpiece, owner of Explorer Travel Services located in Canyon Country.
“Saving money on a trip really depends on where you’re going,” Bradpiece said. “There’s a lot of things to take into consideration when planning a trip, such as if you want to drive or fly, how to pick the best flights and what time of year it is.”
Using the help of a travel adviser can not only help you get deals, but also find out crucial information about where your headed, Bradpiece said. As COVID-19 health and safety protocols vary depending on the county or state you’re in, travel advisers can help determine if a place is still under travel restrictions and, if so, can help plan the trip accordingly.
If COVID-19 restrictions are implemented after a trip is booked, travel advisers can also help take care of the refunds or rebooking.
One of the biggest ways a travel adviser can help you find a deal when planning a vacation, Bradpiece said, is by knowing when certain deals and sales are coming up and what you might want to find.
“For example, we know when deals are coming up for cruises or hotel stays,” Bradpiece said. “You could be on a trip one week, but if you would’ve waited until the following week, there could’ve been a sale that would’ve saved you some money.”
In addition to asking an expert, obtaining travel insurance is another thing to consider, as it can be a great way to ensure coverage is available — if a flight was to be canceled or other situations arise, said travel specialist Barbara Oliver with Romantic Journeys in Santa Clarita.
“People think traveler’s insurance only pertains to if a flight gets canceled or delayed,” Oliver said. “But it can help cover so much more, like if your baggage is lost during a flight, or you get sick and have to quarantine. The insurance will help cover all those things that you’d otherwise have to pay out of pocket. It’s something you buy that you hope you never have to use.”
The most significant part of traveling is how to get to your destination. For local trips that are within a 5- to 6-hour radius, it could be more efficient to drive, Bradpiece said. Depending on the gas milage of the vehicle, filling up on gas could be cheaper than a one-way plane ticket.
When you’re ready for takeoff
Booking flights during the weekday as opposed to the weekend can save money on flights as Bradpiece said weekends are considered a prime traveling time.
“People have a tendency to book trips where their flight leaves on a weekend and they return on a weekend,” Bradpiece said. “That causes flight prices to increase. The least expensive days to book flights are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.”
Booking flights during “shoulder season,” which is the season between peak and off travel, can possibly provide vacation qualities without the vacation price, Bradpiece said.
When picking days to fly, Oliver said it’s best to be flexible, as airfare prices fluctuate drastically as a result of the pandemic.
“Flights are prices based on supply and demand, and the demand is really high right now,” she said. “Airport employees have to follow certain protocols and they’re not working like they were pre-COVID. They’re trying to get back on track after a sudden reopening and the high demand.”
It’s important for people to weigh the pros and cons of flying in different classes, Bradpiece said basic economy could be the best for saving money, but most flights won’t allow carry-on bags and do not have assigned seating. “You have to put a lot of thought into how you want to travel and what you’re comfortable with sacrificing,” he added.
Making sure your passport it valid is also important when traveling internationally, Oliver said. Since COVID-19 shut down passport agencies, there is a backlog of applications which delay approval time for those who are planning to travel, she added.
“If you’re going to travel internationally, you have to have your passport ready and valid,” Oliver said. “It also needs to be valid six months after your return date. That’s something people often overlook, and now that passport applications are delayed, it’s better to do it as soon as possible and it can be worth paying the extra fee for it to be expedited.”
The last piece of advice from Bradpiece and Oliver is for travelers to bring patience with them as they travel in a post-pandemic world.
“Airports are crazy right now, highways are crazy right now, everyone is trying to get back on track after a year of being locked down and a sudden reopening,” Oliver said. “Traveling isn’t going to go back to normal immediately, so it’s best to prepare for the unexpected.”
For more information on Explorer Travel Services, call (818) 351-5085. For more information on Romantic Journeys, contact (661) 206-1409.