How To Globe Trot For Less Money, With Less Stress, Amid Airline Struggles

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It is the year 2022 and flight cancellations, lost luggage, and delays have become the order of the day. If you’ve been following the news, you may have seen images of airports in a frenzy and disgruntled passengers either waiting to board flights or sleeping in the airport overnight. The pilot shortage isn’t a new issue, but it’s one that was exacerbated by the pandemic and is affecting Americans who are traveling for business and pleasure. 

If you are someone who loves to travel or feeling discouraged about booking a flight somewhere, all hope is not lost. A good place to start is by booking travel as early as possible and price watching before you book says Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, a travel writer and on-air travel expert located in Miami. “Plug your destination into sites, Google Flights and, for example, that monitor airfare price fluctuations and will alert you when they go up or down.” 

Greaves-Gabbadon also recommends traveling during the middle of the week as opposed to on the weekend and avoiding high seasons for international destinations. “In the Caribbean, that’s December to April; for Europe, it’s traditionally the summer months,” she says.

Another tip is to become a pro at earning travel miles and using them to see the world for less. “Travel miles, points, and loyalty reward programs are a great way to save on travel costs,” says Sapphire Kharyzma, a luxury experience designer and Caribbean destination connoisseur based in Saint Michaels, Md. “One of my favorite programs is the Marriott Bonvoy. I am also in love with the FoundersCard Membership, where I have access to premium services, private jet charters, and so much more.” 

Don’t have a travel card or rewards program you’re enrolled in? Credit cards are another avenue to access miles, deals and discounts Kharyzma says. Providers like The Platinum Card from American Express and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card also offer various forms of protection such as travel insurance, which is a necessity these days. 

If in spite of all of these money-saving hacks, if globetrotting still seems expensive and inaccessible to you, there is the option of financing. Alexandra Hunt, a travel agent based in Kileen, Tex., says putting your flight on layaway is an option if you don’t want to pay for the entire trip upfront. “You can put your flight on layaway using Airfordable, which is great and has been really helpful to me as a single mom. Finding a great travel agent is a great help as well. Travel agents do the research for you, using suppliers that may not be accessible to the public,” she shares. Other companies that offer payment plans for travel include Klarna, Afterpay, Affirm and Uplift. Just read the fine print and beware of any interest they charge and decide whether it’s worth it.

Another indirect way to save money when setting out to explore is by getting travel insurance. With the many delays and interruptions, Greaves-Gabaddon says that it’s a must. Ensure any plan you purchase has COVID-related coverage as we are still in a pandemic. While travel restrictions may have eased, some countries still have restrictions in place that could put a wrench in your plans. Travel insurance hedges against such circumstances and ensures you can recoup your money if you get sick or can’t enter your destination because of restrictions. Although travel insurance costs an extra fee if you don’t get it free through a credit card provider, the peace of mind could make it worthwhile. 

Not all travel insurance is created equal, but common forms of coverage most have include trip cancellations, medical emergencies, as well as lost and stolen luggage. The latter can be a costly inconvenience, which you know if you’ve experienced it. Lost or stolen luggage means your valuables are gone and you have to pay out of pocket to replace them if you don’t have insurance or the airline gives you a hard time about replacing your goods. To minimize the risk, Greaves-Gabaddon says she’s “#TeamCarryOn.” However, while carry-ons are convenient, they aren’t realistic for everyone. 

“If you have to check a bag, toss in an Apple AirTag, Tile or other tracking device so that you can always know where your bag is, even if your airline doesn’t.” she advises. 

Above all, it’s imperative you manage your expectations about how much travel will cost and how smoothly things will go as times have changed from what they were pre-pandemic.

“I recommend the four P’s: Be patient, be prepared, be polite and carry a pen,” Greaves-Gabaddon says. “You’re going to need all four!”

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