Squeezing in an end-of-summer getaway or beginning to plan your fall and holiday travels? Here’s everything you need to know to ensure a seamless, stress-free experience in the coming months, whether you’re exploring abroad or staying closer to home.
Work Around the Holiday Rush
Labor Day travel was up 44% overall this year compared to 2022, with Vancouver, Rome, London, Dublin, and Paris topping AAA’s list of the hottest international destinations. International cruise bookings were also up 44% and international hotel bookings were up 82% compared to Labor Day weekend last year. While the summer months are always a busy time to travel, we can probably expect demand to continue trending upwards during the upcoming fall and winter holidays. There are some hacks you can use to avoid some of the rush — and sticker shock — that goes along with travel during these busy times.
For example, consider traveling abroad during Thanksgiving. As other Americans travel nationally to visit family, domestic airfare and hotel rates tend to skyrocket — but not in other parts of the world where the holiday isn’t typically celebrated. It’s a good opportunity to visit a destination that’s further afield and start a new Thanksgiving tradition with your friends or family. If you have to stay local, keep this in mind: the TSA says the busiest travel days of the year are typically the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
If you’re planning travel around the December holidays, try to avoid flying on December 23 — it’s one of the busiest travel days of the month. If you’re not tied to holiday plans, consider flying out the night of December 24 or on Christmas Day, when most people are home celebrating with their families. You’ll likely score some deals (and possible enjoy an empty airplane).
Understand the EU’s New Entry Fee
If Europe is on your short list for next year, there could be one extra step to take before boarding that plane. Starting sometime in 2024, U.S. travelers will have to pay an $8 fee and complete an European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) application online to enter E.U. countries. The E.U. hasn’t yet announced an exact date for when it will open applications.
To apply, travelers will need to share personal information such as their date of birth, parents' names and details about their current occupation and previous criminal convictions (if any). They will also need to confirm that their passport is not set to expire in less than three months and provide details about their upcoming trip along with travel documentation. Once completed and authorized, the application will be valid for short-term stays of 90 days or less within an 180-day period. Travelers will have to hold onto this authorization throughout their stay in the E.U. Authorization can take anywhere from several minutes to four days. If additional information is needed, travelers could be flagged for an interview. Because of this, it’s recommended that they apply for ETIAS certification at least 30 days before their travel date.
Fly Japan Airlines & Skip Packing
Hate packing? Well, if you’re planning a trip to Japan between now and August 2024, you can skip the process altogether. Japan Airlines (JAL) will now offer passengers the option to rent clothing for their stay in the country. It’s part of their “Any Wear, Anywhere” initiative, which aims to reduce aircrafts’ carbon emissions by scaling down the weight of each. According to the rental service, eliminating just 22 pounds of weight from baggage on a flight from New York to Tokyo can reduce carbon emissions by 17 pounds.
Think Twice Before Charging at Airports
The FBI recently warned against using free charging stations in public spaces — like those peppered throughout airports. Bad actors have figured out ways to compromise public USB ports, placing your devices at risk of viruses, malware, and monitoring software when you plug them in. To avoid the risk all together, you should carry your own power bank and charging cable. Better yet, consider purchasing luggage that comes with a blazing-fast charger, so you can keep your phones and tablets powered up anywhere, anytime, risk-free.
Add Space to Your Travel List
Looking to plan a trip that’s literally out of this world? In 2024, travelers will be able to book a hot air balloon ride to the edge of space. Created by French aeronautical company Zephalto, it’s the first low-carbon space travel experience in the world. Guests will board the Céleste, a pressurized capsule buoyed by a stratospheric balloon, to ascend more than 82,000 feet above the earth in one and a half hours. From that height, they’ll be able to witness the curve of the planet — also known as the “Overview Effect.” The entire journey takes about six hours and will set you back about $133,000 USD. Every detail has been carefully curated — travelers can indulge in a pre-voyage lunch crafted by Michelin-starred chefs, and Zephalto has hinted that more features and personalized experiences will be revealed soon.
This has been an exceptionally busy year for travel, with demand exceeding pre-pandemic levels and showing no sign of slowing down. Staying up to date on news, requirements, and trends can help you breeze through your travels and get where you’re going stress-free. Flexibility will continue to be your biggest ally when it comes to avoiding crowds and scoring deals, so keep your plans loose if you have the luxury to. And take advantage of unique, limited-time services — like JAL’s pilot “Any Wear, Anywhere” initiative — to take one more to-do off your pre-travel list.