Everytime I talk with people on Instagram or any other social media, there’s a common theme – all my fellow travelers are itching to get on a plane. We are all going a little crazy staying in one place for so long and I think the uncertainty of not knowing exactly when we’ll be able to travel again is making it a little worse.
I think everyone I’ve talked to is ready to drop any amount of money to get on a plane as soon as we’re given the go-ahead. Trust me, I’m in that group, too. BUT instead of waiting around and longing for that, I’ve realized that there are a few real, tangible things we can do now to set us up for success for when we’re able to travel again. Things that will help us avoid paying full price for a last minute flight, avoid the time-consuming planning stage, and avoid massive lines of people just like us who are going to jump at the chance to travel as soon as we get it.
1. Plan Everything Out
I know how disheartening it can be to plan for something that you’re not sure will even happen, but if we have everything planned for our trip, that will save us a ton of headaches when it comes time to book travel and actually go.
I plan on writing a blog post in the near future that will go much deeper into how I actually plan my trips, but for now, here are the highlights:
The first thing I do to plan is to track flights in Google Flights. I have flight trackers going for all my potential trips just so I can get a good idea of a high or low price for any given flight. When you track a flight with Google, they’ll even show you the price history, so you’ll know if the price that day is high or low compared to what it’s been.
When travel opens up, I’m personally a little afraid that flight prices will skyrocket, so having these flight trackers in place will let me know if I’m paying a fair price for my flight (not that it matters that much because, as I mentioned before, I’ll be willing to pay almost anything to travel after this).
The next thing I do to plan is to scour the internet (Google, other travel blogs, Instagram, etc.) to figure the highlights of each city I’m traveling to – what I cannot miss. I want to know the sites to see, the restaurants to eat at, the best hotels for location/cost, and any off-the-beaten-path advice from locals.
Lastly, I put everything I find into a spreadsheet. I section it off into different tabs for flights, hotels, restaurants, and activities and input all the info I can find from my research in the last step. Having everything in one place makes it SO MUCH EASIER to digest all the information and make sure I’m not missing anything.
Once I have everything in my spreadsheet, I start sorting the different activities/sites into another tab to make an itinerary. Sometimes there’s so much to do in a city, so we need to make sure we’re strategically planning each day to fit in as much sightseeing, meandering, and exploring as possible.
If this last step – spreadsheets – made you cringe, FEAR NOT! I have something for you! I’ve put together a Travel Planning Template to help you keep track of everything we just talked about without having to actually create the spreadsheets yourself – I took the hard part out of it for you! Just fill out the info below and it’ll be sent right to your inbox.
2. Sign up for a travel credit card
Back in February, when our hopes of touring France this August were still high, Austin and I had signed up for a new travel credit card through Chase to give us some time to earn the sign up bonus and get our flights for free.
Well, we aren’t going to France, but we do still have those points to use when we can travel which is a great feeling! This is the perfect time sign up for a new travel credit card, earn that sign-on bonus, and then have a nest egg of points just waiting to be used as soon as travel restrictions ease.
If you’re new to travel credit cards, travel points, or have no idea what I’m talking about here, I’m actually in the process of writing an eBook that outlines the basics of travel credit cards and how to use them (responsibly!) to travel for free. AND I’m giving the first chapter away for free.
This first chapter is all about HOW people travel for free and the basics of how travel credit cards work. It will be released on May 7th, but if you’re reading this in the future, you can still get Chapter 1 for free until the eBook is officially released. Click below for more information on this and to secure your copy!
3. Sign up for the Trusted Traveler/Global Entry program
This is something nearly everyone in my life has been meaning to do, but continuously puts it off because it’s a tedious process, but trust me, it’s worth it!
You’ll have to sign up online, pay a one-time $100 fee, and then have an in-person interview to be accepted. Once you’re accepted, you’ll get all the benefits of the program for 5 years (after which, you’ll have to re-enroll).
Here are the biggest benefits (in my opinion):
- When returning to most major US airports, all you need to do is check in at a Global Entry kiosk and keep moving, saving you a TON of time.
- It also includes faster entry into other countries (not all of them, though).
- And the big one – it comes with TSA Precheck. Global Entry has been the best travel investment I’ve ever made because of TSA Precheck. I save anywhere from 20 mins to 2 hours (depending on the wait of the security line) every time I fly.
Overall, Global Entry is kind of a pain to get, but totally worth it! AND some travel credit cards even compensate you for the fee every 5 years as one of their perks (more about that in the upcoming eBook)!
I’d suggest using this time to begin the application process. I will admit, I’m not sure how they’re handling the in-person interview process. They might make you wait to do that until we can actually meet in-person again, but at least you’ll have the beginning steps done when it comes time for that.
Here’s some more info if you’re interested: Click me!
I’ve said this a million times, and I’ll say it again. Planning helps take the anxiety of certain situations (ahem, quarantine) away – at least for me.
It feels like we’re all lining up outside a store on black Friday (when black Friday was a real thing), ready to pounce as soon as the store opens, but if you take these steps now, you’ll be setting yourself up for so much success when we get the word that it is safe to travel again.
Let me know if you do any of these – I seriously love hearing from you guys and if I can help just one person get a free flight or plan for a trip or skip the airport security line, I’ve succeeded.