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Are you headed to Europe this summer? Brace yourself. Delays, missed connections and canceled flights are a reality. Tips to prepare yourself and your fellow travelers for traveling to Europe this summer:
Preparing for Air Travel
Book direct flights when possible. If a layover is required, give serious thought to where best to connect. Breaking up a connection with a forced overnight stay is not a bad idea when traveling to Europe this summer.
Take morning flights to avoid the ripple effect of delays that happen throughout the day. This could allow for a chance to take a later flight if you miss your connection. Avoid taking the last flight of the day. Summer means thunderstorms so with all the delays and cancellations due to pent up demand, we can’t forget the reality and the impact of weather delays either.
Flying reputable airlines with a decent number of flight options from your home airport is a great idea when traveling to Europe this summer. Book flights on the same itinerary as airlines are more likely to accommodate if something goes wrong.
Secure Global Entry before your departure. Global Entry expedites your re-entry into the country. These lanes will help you avoid delays, causing you to miss a connection. Downloading the Mobile Passport Control App to complete your re-entry paperwork will also simplify the process.
Check your flight itinerary regularly before your departure. Changes to flights are occurring frequently, and you won’t want to accept the change if the new connection layover, or connecting destination, is not ideal. Airlines have inadvertently failed to notify consumers directly when changes have occurred and consumers often unknowingly overlook email notifications.
Be sure to set reminders on your calendar to verify your flight details about 30 days, 7-14 days, 72 hours and 24 hours before your departure. We provide our clients with a travel app which automatically updates flight details. We see this as an essential when traveling to Europe this summer.
Benefits of Premium Seating
If flying first class, business or premium economy, good for you! For those in coach, please be aware that the airlines are charging for desirable seats. If you do not secure your seat assignments, chances are you will be by the bathroom, in a seat that doesn’t recline, or a seat in the back. We recommend the bulkhead seats and exit rows if not traveling with children. The bulkhead seats typically can guarantee you overhead space. Once you reach cruising altitude, take your baggage down and use it as a footrest or make a shift recliner. If you are traveling to Europe with children this summer, check out our 1-Week family- friendly London itinerary.
One of our travelers to Spain indicated that they are 100% certain they made their connection because they were flying business. “There is no way we would have made our connection if we were flying coach.”
Be wary of booking airfare through discounted websites like Kayak or Hotwire to save a few bucks. If a flight is oversold, you will likely be the first to be bumped or stuck sitting in middle seats when you book the absolute cheapest ticket. You definitely want to avoid basic economy as it doesn’t give you any flexibility to change your ticket nor will you be able to pick your seats. A family of four could find themselves scattered across the plane in all middle seats.
Know The Travel Requirements & Restrictions
Although restrictions have been lifted from vaccination requirements and testing, each country has a different set of rules. We recommend staying up to date with resources such as the CDC, Sherpa, the airline you’re flying and the board of tourism office of your travel destination when traveling to Europe this summer.
Prepare for Extra Time at the Airport
These days, you might find yourself thankful for a delay – a missed connection or canceled flight is much worse. From personal experience, my son and I were one of the last flights to depart from London to Edinburgh, while other families connecting via London were unexpectedly stranded in London for the night. Over the airport intercom, delayed travelers learned that hotels near the airport were sold out, and that they would be “sleeping” inside the terminal.
Plan to arrive at the airport at least three hours in advance for an international flight when traveling to Europe this summer. Additionally, do not be surprised to learn your flight is delayed. The shortage of crew members is slowing the turnaround time between flights. This is the cause of many flight cancellations. We waited an extra hour after a 1.5 hour delay due to the fact that there were no baggage handlers to load the check bags.
Be sure to bring things to do and a stash of food and beverages. We had a deck of cards to keep us busy and embarked on a scavenger hunt from shop to shop around the airport to stay occupied. I also found time to work while my son took a nap. Sadly, eateries are not open late at night nor in the early morning so you will be on your own for food and beverages.
Start Your Vacation With Downtime
It’s smart to add an extra night and a free day to your arrival destination. This way you do not risk missing any tours or activities due to late arrival or an unexpected need to sleep in on your first day from sleep deprivation.
Children and teens need more sleep, and if they are not given time to catch up on it and adjust, it could derail the entire trip. Additionally, if traveling with elders, they may need some time to rest. I used to say three nights was enough in your arrival city but to make time for acclimating and exploring, my new recommendation is three full days which may result in a four night stay.
Layer your clothes and pack as much as possible in your carryon luggage. For a week-long trip, each traveler should be able to pack everything into a carryon and backpack. Checked luggage is getting lost. At the very least, you will want to carry on enough to survive two days without your luggage if it becomes temporarily misplaced. In your carryon, don’t forget your toothbrush, sanitizer and a hair brush. Additionally, respect other travelers by avoiding the wear of perfume, don’t eat smelly foods like a tuna sandwich, wear headphones, and keep voices down, other travelers might be in desperate need of sleep no matter the time of day.
To avoid problems with lost luggage use Air Tags. These can track checked bags in case they go missing! A family returning home from Ireland reported that three of their bags did not arrive home with them.
Even worse, we had a client attending a wedding who shared that several guests attending the wedding went four days without their checked baggage. They returned to the London Heathrow airport every day for four days to see if their luggage had arrived. Thousands of bags were just laying there. Notifications weren’t even sent from the airlines. “It was a disaster zone,” according to a traveler who never received their luggage while on their trip. Hopefully, the luggage will make its way back to them at home.
Pack masks. While you may not need to wear a mask on a US based airline, some European airlines are requiring them. Masks may also be needed for entry into museums and may be required by drivers and guides. Mask requirements are one of many things to keep in mind when traveling abroad throughout 2022.
Bring a Covid-19 testing Kit with you. While we can celebrate the elimination of testing prior to returning to the US, the virus does continue to spread. You may want to have a test readily available if you are not feeling well. Your trip insurance will require a test to substantiate a Covid-19 diagnosis.
You will want to contact your insurance provider to confirm your test is acceptable. If your trip involves a cruise, you will probably need a negative Covid-19 test in order to board. We recommend testing prior to port arrival. Since not all cruise lines are administering tests, you may find yourself paying as much as $100 per person for a test taken at a port. Another piece of advice for cruisers is that you overnight for one or two nights before the start of your cruise. We also recommend you cruise before a land itinerary to minimize exposure before boarding when traveling to Europe this summer.
Bring a portable first aid and medicine kit with you in case of an illness. Take vitamins daily to stay healthy and bring pain reliever and other over the counter medicines. Ultimately, be sure you are packing for your occasion, as leisure and adventure travel require different necessities.
Invest in Trip Insurance
Protect your trip investment and yourself by acquiring trip insurance. Trip insurance provides added benefits such as coverage for a pre-existing condition if purchased at time of the trip. Trip insurance protects your investment if you are required to cancel for a covered reason. Other benefits include coverage for trip interruption, baggage delay, lost items, medical and evacuation coverage.
Contact your advisor at Boutique Travel Advisor to secure single trip coverage or an annual trip insurance plan through Chubb or another one of our preferred trip insurance partners.
Make Travel Arrangements in Advance
Book drivers, guided tours and skip the line or timed admission tickets in advance. Many of our local European suppliers and reputable travel companies are already sold out for this summer and are unable to accommodate new itineraries.
Last minute tours can be self-booked through our preferred tour partner, Project Expedition. If you are planning a last minute itinerary, and want to ensure quality guides and accommodations, we recommend joining a small group tour experience with Backroads or Abercrombie & Kent or boarding a river or ocean cruise with availability.
Dining reservations are a must right now, especially at top restaurants in busy markets. Remember you are competing with locals who are just as eager to go out for dinner.
Consider Postponing Your Trip
If your travel dates are flexible and you have not yet planned your trip, we recommend you push your travel dates to the fall, winter, spring or next summer.
If you are insistent on traveling this summer, remember to be flexible and easy going. Do not let a day or two of derailed plans ruin your trip. Be sure to set expectations and stay focused on the enjoyment and fun of a vacation. Some of our best memories involve chaos, unpredictable events and overcoming obstacles. Remember, you are lucky enough to just be in Europe after two summers of closure during the pandemic.
Be Patient and Kind
The hospitality and restaurant industries have been devastated by the pandemic. Pilots retired, and some of the best workers in hospitality were forced to pursue other careers. The professionals and workers in the travel industry are trying their hardest to prepare for travel to Europe this summer.
The comeback happened so quickly giving employers little time to prepare and re-staff. The travel industry becomes immensely disrupted by flight cancellations and delays. The inefficiency of understaffed call centers and a shortage of guides and drivers can be frustrating, but remain calm.
Everyone is doing the best they can under tough circumstances, keep this in mind when you are faced with frustrations. Approach your gate agent not with a complaint, but rather with a focus on getting the best resolution.
When your driver is 15 minutes delayed, relax and recognize that they are working overtime to accommodate last minute changes to pick up and drop off times.
To help ensure your travels run as smoothly as possible, contract your advisor at Boutique Travel Advisors. We are sure to prepare you the next time you travel to Europe, or maybe another destination that interests you? For more information or to have one of our advisors reach out to you for a complementary discovery call, please email email@example.com.
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Boutique Travel Advisors is a full-service, luxury travel agency. We specialize in creating bespoke itineraries for discerning clients around the world. Please visit our website or call 480-787-1477 to speak with a dedicated travel expert.
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