Tech hacks to ease travel from headaches right now
The travel industry is recovering from the pandemic, but hardly. These apps and tips can help us navigate chaos and maximize our comfort.
Anyone who has gone on a trip last year probably has a scary story. The cancelled flights have ended. Customer service waiting time with airlines can be hours long. In some places, the costs of rental cars and plane tickets have become astronomical.
Many of the economic problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic – including high gas prices and resignations due to burnout – have hit the travel industry especially badly, just as people have started to travel and leave home for vacations.
Therefore, nearly three years after Covid-19, passengers still need to adopt a modified method to plan their travel. That’s where these tech hacks come in. When the virus was more deadly, travel planning involved doing mostly online research to see where we were allowed to go and what we needed. Using technology now can help make travel less chaotic and more comfortable, and help avoid customer service.
The most important time-saving tech travel tip at the moment is to avoid apps and websites that are booked through a third party, even though they can save you money. This is because if something goes wrong in your flight or hotel room, there’s another party to deal with in the middleman, which can lead to more hours being wasted in the rook.
‘Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy blog, says, “If you book through a travel agency, you are facing problems. “Go straight. The more people you put in the way, the more complicated things become.
Here are some of the most useful tech tools that travel experts and I are using to make our journey more enjoyable in this “new normal” phase of the pandemic, including apps to monitor flight changes and find the best seats.
Travel hacks for smooth, affordable flights
In this era of high inflation when everyone is trying to save money, it is still possible to get a good deal on plane tickets without booking through a third party agency. The key is to use services that track each airline’s ticket costs and set alerts for price cuts.
Mr Kelly’s tool of choice for scoring cheap airfares is Google Flights. With the help of this web tool, it plugs in travel dates and locations and then tags the option to track prices and get email updates as airfares drop. Then he buys tickets directly through the airline.
The next step is to get as much rest as possible on the ship by getting the best affordable seats. For this, SeatGuru, is a web tool that lets passengers plug in their flight number to review a plane’s detailed seating chart. It highlights information about seats, including seats with extra leg room, and seats with limited recline or overhead storage, which is more detailed than the basic diagram shown by airlines.
After booking, the last step is to monitor the flight situation – an important step as cancellations and delays have become very common. Web tools such as FlightAware and Flight Radar24 provide up-to-date information about the exact location of the aircraft and provide insight into the airline’s track record for timely arrivals and delays.
A bonus tip: Lounges can be very crowded these days, so when Mr. Kelly arrives at the airport, he uses the Lounge Buddy app to see people he can easily slip into.
Technology to stay organized
In the early stages of the pandemic, travellers had to study travel and tourism websites to learn about the seriousness of coronavirus restrictions and their destination requirements. Now there’s a shortcut.
Henry Hartvelt, founder of the San Francisco-based travel analysis firm Atmosphere Research Group, uses JoinSherpa.com, a web tool that meets travel requirements for departure and return. For example, if you’re leaving San Francisco, the site loads a list of all health documents and quarantine requirements to enter the country, as well as documents necessary to return to the United States.
Linking travel documents and travel programs can still be a problem as we have to carry more information than ever before. I use a variety of tools to keep my travel and health documents clean.
My favorite trip is to organize travel events. It can scan your inbox for itineraries, hotel bookings, and car rental reservations, and then compile this information into a complete itinerary offered as a clean timeline.
Here’s how trap it fits into my plan. I only have a separate email account for travel programs. After a flight, car rental or hotel booking, I forward confirmation emails to this email account. Then Tript automatically scans this inbox and updates my timelines.
For health documentation, I always carry two digital forms of my vaccine record with me, only if there is confusion. The first is the digital QR code provided by the California Department of Public Health, which I save in my phone’s wallet app. The second is an image of the physical vaccine card, which I save inside the Note app to make it easier to find later.
Keeping an eye on the stuff
There has been an increase in cases of missing luggage due to shortage of staff at the airport and increasing demand for air travel. This makes wireless trackers like Tile and Apple’s AirTag particularly useful. These are small beacons that can be slipped into a piece of equipment and, if a bag or suitcase is lost, the tile or Find My app can be opened on the smartphone to draw the approximate location of the tracker on the map.
Even if your equipment isn’t lost, a tracker can provide peace of mind. Mr Kelly said that when he recently traveled to Europe, his airtag told him where his bag was when he arrived in Paris.
Yes to hotel apps
To manage a hotel reservation, just be sure to download the hotel app, if it has one. This is especially important now because many major brands let you check in through the app, and the sooner you do that, the sooner your room will be ready.
Don’t skip this step. “If you forget to check in and you come several hours late because of flight delays, the hotel can give you reservations,” Kelly said.