The surprising # 1 travel concern that emerged this summer

When it comes to traveling in 2021, there is a lot to think about. Do you need to bring proof of vaccination? What happens if you cancel your trip? And do I have to pay extra for travel insurance?

While these are valid concerns for travel in the COVID-19 era, more than a third of Americans surveyed (39%) say the most concerning aspect of their next trip is actually “overcrowding and the long queues ”.

That’s according to a report by Concur’s TripIt, a travel organization app, which surveyed more than 1,500 of its US users in July 2021 about their upcoming travel plans. The survey asked respondents, “Which of the following aspects of travel, if any, will you be most concerned about the next time you travel?” And allowed them to select up to three items. Here are the answers :

  1. Overcrowding and long queues: 39%.
  2. Keeping abreast of travel restrictions: 36%.
  3. Unruly passengers: 29%.
  4. Costs: 24%.
  5. Airport logistics: 23%.
  6. Understanding of vaccination / infection rates: 19%.
  7. Uncertainty about vaccination rules: 18%.
  8. Knowing how to cancel or change reservations: 17%.
  9. Planning a COVID-19 test: 13%.
  10. Other: 3%.
  11. I will not be affected: 18%.

Overcrowding is a growing problem for the travel industry as it shifts from a period of extremely low travel rates in 2020 to now, when many Americans are making up for a year of missed vacations with longer (or longer) trips. ). In some cases, travel numbers in 2021 have surpassed not only 2020, but even 2019.

For example, the bank holiday weekend of July 4, 2021 was huge. On Thursday July 1, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.14 million people, or 103% of the 2.08 million travelers screened on Thursday weekend of July 4, 2019.

National parks reported a record number of visitors in 2021 as people seek vacations that are socially distant and focused on the outdoors. Many outdoor tour operators are also reporting an increase in bookings. For example, REI Co-op said bookings for its guided backpacking, biking and camping trips in the United States increased 28% in early 2021 compared to 2019.

And with the holiday season approaching, overcrowding and long lines could very well continue for the rest of the year. Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases in many places in the United States, travelers should also be prepared to deal with crowds in the coming months.

How to cope with the crowds while traveling

Even seemingly isolated places like hiking trails and small towns will be crowded this year. Expect airports and hotel check-in counters to be more chaotic than not. That said, here are three ways to avoid overcrowding and long lines:

1. Apply for TSA PreCheck

When you leave most US airports, you can avoid not only the long lines, but also the irritating process of removing your shoes, fluids, and your laptop by having TSA PreCheck, a customs clearance program that allows you to pass airport security in a separate and expedited line. .

Most PreCheck lines move so quickly that you might not even have time to drink your last sip of water before sending the bottle through the scanner. According to the TSA, 96% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes in August 2021.

You’ll need to apply in advance with an online application and a short in-person meeting, and there’s an application fee of $ 85 (but that’s good for a five-year membership). Fortunately, many travel credit cards reimburse these fees if you pay with the card.

2. Less is more: Light pack

Avoid queues at the baggage counter before reaching airport security by committing to only take hand baggage. Better yet, avoid clutter around the boarding gate to secure the overhead compartment space by packing enough light for everything to fit under the seat in front of you.

Plus, with only hand baggage, you won’t have to worry about locating checked baggage if the flight is canceled and booked at the last minute.

3. Trust your smartphone

More travel providers are turning to smartphones to perform tasks that humans used to do, and – given long lines and labor shortages – that might not be a bad thing. thing. Before flying or staying in a hotel, check to see if the company has a smartphone app.

Many large hotel chains have adopted this type of technology, such as the Marriott Bonvoy app. This app also serves as a simple way to register and as a virtual key to your accommodation.

At the airport, you can often bypass the check-in counter and view your boarding pass on your phone if you’ve downloaded the airline app.

And when dining out, you can often avoid restaurant lines by ordering in advance on your mobile device. Some restaurants offer advance ordering features on their websites, while others rely on food delivery apps for takeout or delivery orders. Some credit cards offer additional discounts for using food delivery apps.

Remember to take a portable power bank as you will burn more battery than normal on your smartphone.

If you are afraid to travel

Traveler crowds are huge right now, and travelers should be prepared for them to increase even more in the upcoming holiday season. Much has changed in travel since the start of the pandemic, and travel may not necessarily be the stress relief you have been hoping for this year.

However, there are many pain points in the journey that can be avoided or reduced by taking actions that are within your control. Plan ahead, pack light, and make room in your carry-on for a portable smartphone power bank. And if all else fails, bring what doesn’t take up space in a suitcase: your patience.

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Sally French writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @SAFmedia.

The Surprising No. 1 Travel Concern That Emerged This Summer article originally appeared on NerdWallet.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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