Travelers have learned some valuable lessons the hard way since the pandemic, according to findings taken from Global Rescue’s recent Spring 2023 Traveler Sentiment and Safety Survey. Major emerging trends include today’s travelers taking longer vacations, making trip plans themselves and correcting mistakes they’ve made since COVID-19 significantly altered the travel experience.
In fact, 25 percent of current and former Global Rescue members (some of the world’s most experienced travelers surveyed) indicated that they will take lengthier trips this year than they have in the past. Meanwhile, the majority (65 percent) of respondents said the duration of their travels would remain about the same as before and less than 10 percent said they plan on taking shorter trips.
“Travelers are making up for lost time due to the pandemic. Despite higher prices and flight disruptions, people are not only scheduling trips for 2023 but many are planning longer ones,” said Dan Richards, CEO of The Global Rescue Companies, a leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services, and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Participants also disclosed their biggest blunders and lessons they’ve learned during their post-pandemic travels. More than one-third (35 percent) pointed to overpacking as their worst travel-related error. While overpacking is a common misstep among travelers, there has been substantial improvement since COVID-19 appeared. In February 2020, the month preceding the pandemic’s outbreak, 75 percent of survey respondents cited overpacking as their main mistake.
Harding Bush, Global Rescue’s senior manager of operations, advises travelers to, “pack light, and buy what you need there.” Pat Pendergast, The Fly Shop’s director of international travel, suggests travelers, “make a list of all the items you packed but never used and then use that list to guide how you pack for future trips.”
The next most common faux pas among travelers is failing to build free time into their itinerary, with 28 percent of those polled saying that failure to incorporate free time into their trip plans was their second most serious mistake. However, like overpacking, the results indicated improvement in this area since the pandemic initially struck. Prior to COVID-19, 40 percent of respondents reported creating overly ambitious itineraries with no down time scheduled in.
The third, and probably most serious, oversight among today’s travelers is assuming that your own country’s laws carry over in their destination. Eleven percent of participants cited this as an important lesson for all travelers. “The laws of your home country don’t travel with you. That’s why knowing the local laws of the destination(s) is critical before traveling,” Richards said.
More and more people are returning to travel, and it seems that most of them are turning to a mix of different resources to plan their itineraries themselves. Maybe it’s worth taking into account that participants were seasoned travelers who are pretty familiar with the process. Nevertheless, only 17 percent of respondents said they use a travel agent to book their trips. Just three percent use full-service, one-stop online booking agencies—such as Kayak, Expedia and Travelocity—to arrange their flights, hotels and car rentals. Nearly one-third (31 percent) said they use multiple online resources to plan each trip component individually, while 46 percent do the planning on their own using any combination of direct phone calls, online resources and email.
“Travelers are increasingly looking for travel customization at every level from the moment they leave home until they return. At the same time, the pandemic pushed people to become more reliant on online services. The combination of those two factors has driven travelers to do more self-guided travel planning,” Richards said.
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