How to travel worry-free in 2022 - Blog - BetterSaver
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How to travel worry-free in 2022

June 20, 2022

Finally, we can travel. People can get out to see their loved ones for the first time in years. Grandparents are meeting grandkids for the first time. We can swap screens for real-life hugs and get back to plans that have been on hold for the last two years.

But given how long it’s been since we have travelled, it is understandable to be apprehensive. How has the pandemic changed the way we travel? Is it too expensive now? How can you budget a trip while the world is experiencing massive inflation? And is it safe?

We’ll break down what you need to know to travel in 2022.

The basics

  • Expect places to be booked. Pent-up demand means A LOT of people are getting out there. Plus, staff shortages have decreased the number of options, so there are fewer flights, Ubers and taxis. Restaurants may suddenly close due to a lack of staff and leave you scrambling.

  • Be flexible. Prepare for the worst. Keep an extra set of clothes and your medications with you in case of delays or cancellations. A little preparation will help you to keep calm and go with the flow. Things are moving a bit more slowly these days, and changing fast.

  • Costs are high. We have all experienced inflation and the pain at the pump. Air NZ says it costs twice as much to fuel a Dreamliner trip from Auckland to LA than it did in 2020. We’ll give you our best tips for saving on travel to cushion the blow.

  • COVID conditions vary. COVID tests, vaccination and mask requirements are different everywhere and subject to change at any time. Triple check if you need pre-departure testing or if you will be required to quarantine or self-isolate on arrival.

Don’t let these new challenges get you down. The world is still out there, waiting for you to experience it - so sit back, relax, and learn how to travel in 2022.

Changes due to COVID

COVID has ushered us into a world where RAT tests and masks are the norm for most of us, but every country (or even region) has their own rules. Always check the official website of the country you are travelling to - or through - for the latest COVID requirements. Do you need a specific type of mask? Will they accept your vaccine pass? What about the methods of transport you will use?

The World Health Organisation has a COVID map that shows where outbreaks are happening. Check NZ’s official COVID 19 site for travel recommendations.

It is always a good idea to check the Safe Travel website for updates on diseases, political unrest, or anything else that could affect your trip (they also have a section for what to do if things go wrong - like you lose your passport or get kidnapped or scammed). New pathogens, like monkeypox, may add unexpected travel requirements, so stay informed.

On the plus side, many businesses that rely on tourism are eager for you to spend your dollars with them, so keep an eye out for special deals or extra bonuses.

Planning your trip

The pandemic has forced many airlines and accommodations to be flexible with changes, making it easier to change a flight at the last minute or rebook to take advantage of a price decrease. However, you must pay attention and get it right to avoid costly errors.

Book early. Fewer flights mean fuller flights, so save your spot early. If the price drops after booking, you can always cancel and rebook.

Beware the cheap seats. Check the restrictions to make sure your fantastic deal actually is a cheap seat. Sometimes by the time you add baggage and carry-on fees, choose your seat, or need to reschedule your flight, you may have ended up better off paying a bit more for a more flexible option in the first place.

Pack light. Everyone is pinching pennies, and that includes airlines. Some are reducing the bag weight limit and charge huge fees if you are over. If you can, travel with just a carry-on to avoid lost luggage dramas.

Research travel insurance. Consider it a must-have these days. Staff shortages mean flights are subject to cancellation, and you don’t want to get caught out. What if you get COVID and can’t get on your flight? Will you have to quarantine and cover costs like lodging, meals, and medical care? What if a new variant emerges? Most travel insurance policies will cover COVID-related costs, but be sure to double-check before purchasing.

Budget. Your travel budget is all about priorities:

  1. Big-ticket items like airfare, accommodation, and transport.

  2. Visas, vaccinations, and travel insurance. (Some say to budget 5-10% of your total trip cost for insurance.)

  3. What are your must-dos? You may want to eat and stay cheap to spend more to see the sights, or you may prefer to experience the local cuisine at any cost. It’s up to you.

  4. Use your priorities to motivate saving. Do you want that new designer top, or do you want to spend a night in an over-the-water bungalow in Mauritius?

How to save on flights

The overwhelming advice from experts for saving money when travelling is to be flexible.

  • Be flexible with your dates - mid-week is usually cheaper than the weekend.

  • Be flexible with your time - mid-day travel is often cheaper than morning or night.

  • Be flexible with your destination - start by finding the cheapest way over the ocean. You may want to go to Amsterdam and find that a flight to Paris is much more affordable, and it’s only a few hours’ train ride away.

Check several websites and be ready to act fast. But browse in private mode, so your web searches aren’t saved. Some say that it's no accident when prices jump after a few searches.

Don’t be afraid of budget airlines, but DO read the fine print. Where is the airport? If it’s miles out of town, that could be a problem. Be precise with your luggage, as overweight fees can cost $$$. Check for sneaky fees - one airline charges a check-in fee of almost NZD$100 if you don’t check in online before you get to the airport and more if you haven’t printed a boarding pass.

The bottom line is that “budget” can equal bargain, but scrutinize everything before committing.

Paying for stuff overseas

Talk to your bank well in advance of your trip to find out the best way to pay for stuff while travelling. Some banks may charge you for every foreign transaction or for withdrawing cash in another country. Also, letting your bank know you will be travelling avoids the hassles of them thinking your card may have been stolen.

While we caution against credit card debt, some cards offer valuable travel perks like no foreign transaction fees or extra travel-related protection. Just make sure that if you use a credit card, you have a plan to pay it off immediately after your trip. Otherwise, compound interest on your debt will cancel out any benefits you might have received.

Live life to the fullest

Mark Twain put it best:

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

A little planning can help you sail into a worry-free future. That includes financial planning so you can continue to live the lifestyle you want in retirement. BetterSaver can match you to the best KiwiSaver fund for you in five minutes - it really is that easy. Why not take one worry off your plate and do it now?