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My approach to international travel right now


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More and more counties are now reopening their borders to vaccinated international travelers so with more options of places to visit than at any other point in the past two years, you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m busy booking trips to all corners of the world to make up for lost time. That, however, isn’t the case.

I was fortunate enough to be able to travel more than most while the pandemic kept the world closed down so even though my trips were mostly limited to travel across the Atlantic and within the United States, I managed to avoid the feeling of confinement that I know a lot of frequent flyers have felt at various points over the past two years. For that, I’m incredibly grateful.

The flip-side to that good fortune is that in the past two years, I have also probably had more trips changed, rebooked, or cancelled than most people, and I’ve probably had to wait patiently for the results of more travel Covid tests than most people too, and none of that has been particularly fun.

I’m not complaining – I could have chose not to travel at all – but the fact is that I now find myself a little tired of managing ever-changing plans, dealing with airlines, and praying to the travel gods that I don’t return a positive test just before departure or that a country I’m planning to visit doesn’t change its entry rules at the last moment, and that tiredness has manifested itself as an unwillingness on my part to make any plans that I think run the risk of being changed somewhere down the line.

I started off this year with every intention of getting back on the road and visiting places that have been on my ‘must visit’ list for far too long (e.g. Angkor Wat and Chiang Mai) and going back to places that I love (e.g. Sydney) but within days of making a few bookings, a number of airlines decided to cut their schedules and I found myself back on the phone, listening to terrible music and waiting to be connected to an agent so that I could deal with the cancellations. 2022 quickly started to feel like 2021.

To be fair, it’s not just the way some airlines have been handling their schedules that has been putting me off making any new major travel plans – various nations and states haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory recently either.

A lot of counties (especially in Asia) still won’t open their borders to fully vaccinated (and fully tested) travelers. Countries like Thailand and Singapore have had numerous reopening efforts aborted at the last minute. Greece and Cyprus changed their entry rules 3 times in the space of 7 days at the start of January. The French have developed a habit of politicizing just about every decision they make so there is no knowing what they’ll do next. The Austrian government appears to be at war with its own citizens, and even here at home, the Hawaiian islands still don’t seem to be able to come to an agreement on where their travel restrictions go from here.

All of this makes planning trips a lot harder than it should be.

So, as I cannot be bothered to try to figure out (guess) what the coming year will bring us, all my long-haul plans are currently focused on travel between the US and the UK (two countries that I know I’m not going to have trouble with), all of my long-haul bookings for 2022 have been made with miles & points (so my money doesn’t get tied up in airline vouchers), and all my bookings are for non-stop travel (which is highly unusual for me) so I’m not at the mercy of more countries than I have to be.

I know that I’m probably going to have to come up with some kind of long-haul cash booking at some point this year as I need a few more Tier Points to requalify for British Airways Gold status, but I have no plans to think about that anytime soon. That can wait until the second half of 2022 when, hopefully, trips can be planned with a little more certainty. Keeping things simple is my plan for 2022.

How are you approaching international travel in 2022?

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Ziggy,
    Your article could have been recorded in my house. Same discussion and outlook. Still going to try Italy next month. Sitting in two tickets for Asia, but it is just unpredictable. With Australia opening, if I see a good deal in tickets, I’ll change an Emirates ticket or grab something. Just had a friend stranded in the UK with the COVID test roulette. Fail, pass, fail, pass, etc.

    Lon one recent trip, total cost for COVID tests was about half the Cousy of the business class ticket and having vaccination and booster doesn’t make any difference.

    See you across the aisle

    Doug

  2. I haven’t flown anywhere since 2019. But I have booked 2 trips to Asia for 2022 using miles. One to Japan and the other to Singapore. It is a wait and see approach. I will decide a week before the flight whether or not I will cancel the flight. All I have booked is the airfare. Only if I am comfortable in the admission rules will I decide to go and only then will I book any hotels.

  3. I havent flown since 2019 either. I currently reside in Mexico where there have never been any entry restrictions and where domestic travel is relatively simple
    I’ve now recovered from covid so the concern of being stranded in a country where i do not speak the language is of much less concern. But I do not want to support regimes that require vaccines that are failing (see Israel). I have no problem with testing.

  4. I also haven’t been internationally since 2019! I was looking forward going to Philippines, normally go through tokyo-narita, then changed my thoughts, go to Singapore, changed my mind again, will wait for a month or so. Still too much chaos, too far too gamble. Went to SFO last week from EWR, SFO was fine but EWR not so good.

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