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  • Writer's pictureJulie Prusak

How to Enjoy International Travel in an Unprecedented Busy Year

With every passing month, the evidence grows that this year the secret to enjoyable travel is getting the timing right. In this article, we’ll discuss some tips on how to travel wisely in this unprecedented busy year. From choosing your destinations carefully to timing your trips smartly, we’ve got you covered.

Choosing Your Destinations Wisely

One way to avoid the crowds is to choose your destinations wisely. This means traveling to less popular cities and countries that still inspire and delight.

Here are some off-the-radar locations within popular destinations like Italy and France.

  1. Procida, Italy: Procida is a small island near Naples, Italy, that’s known for its brightly colored houses and quiet beaches. Compared to its neighboring islands Capri and Ischia, Procida sees fewer tourists, making it an excellent destination for those looking for a relaxing, off-the-beaten-path trip.

  2. Annecy, France: Annecy is a charming medieval town in the French Alps with a picturesque lake and plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and swimming. Though its popularity has grown in recent years, it still offers a quieter and more relaxed alternative to cities like Paris or Nice.

Timing Your Trips Smartly

Another way to avoid crowds is to time your trips smartly. This means avoiding peak season and traveling during shoulder season. Shoulder season refers to the periods directly before and after the peak tourist season when the weather is still pleasant, but the crowds are thinner and the prices a bit lower.

  1. Europe in Low Season: Europe is a popular destination for many travelers, but it can be incredibly crowded during peak season. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during low season, which typically runs from November to March. While the weather may be cooler, there are fewer tourists and lower prices.

  2. Top European Destinations: If you’re set on visiting popular cities like Paris or Rome, consider going during shoulder season. This means traveling in April and May or September and October, when the weather is mild, and the crowds are thinner.

  3. Longer Seasons: Hotels are lengthening their season to accommodate higher travel demand (hotels on Lake Como, for instance, now stay open through December).

  4. Safari off-season: Many African camps and lodges have long since booked up for peak season (June through October, and the December holidays, roughly speaking), but it’s not too late to book a great trip for other times of year. Click here to read about wildlife viewing seasons in the Serengeti and what to expect to see and experience in each season.

Optimize Your Flight Schedule

Every flight connection creates an opportunity for something to go wrong: a missed flight, lost luggage, long security lines, or extreme delays. To meet surging demand, airlines are adding additional routes and flights, making airports even more crowded.

Minimize your odds of flight delay by booking nonstop flights. If a connection is unavoidable, choose an airport known for smooth operations. If you’re flying in business class, these airports also have great lounges. In Europe, I recommend Zurich, Amsterdam, and Vienna. For Asia, consider Singapore, Doha, or Dubai.

When you are making a domestic connection to an international flight, consider overnighting at the connection point. For example, if you’re flying to Africa via JFK, missing your connection could seriously disrupt your safari plans, so consider spending the night in New York. Also consider airline hubs, such a Detroit or Salt Lake if you are flying Delta, or Phoenix or Dallas if you are flying on American Airlines.

Click here is read other ways to improve your in-flight experience.

Book Tickets and Accommodations in Advance

One of the best ways to avoid crowded tourist attractions and high prices is to book your tickets and accommodations in advance. This will allow you to secure your place in popular sites like museums and landmarks while also giving you a better chance of finding affordable flights and lodging.

Plan Early for Group Travel

The larger your group, the earlier you need to plan. When you only need one hotel room, it’s usually possible to develop the ideal itinerary to suit your interests and trip goals, and then book suitable hotels. But when you need two or more rooms, you may have to check hotel availability and rates first and let that dictate your schedule. With a multigenerational trip or other large group, booking early will maximize your options. Working with an experienced travel advisor will give you access to group rates and tools to coordinate your trip.

Stay Flexible

While it’s important to plan ahead, it’s also essential to stay flexible during a crowded year of travel. This means being willing to adjust your itinerary or switch up your plans if your desired destinations become overly crowded or inaccessible. Consider alternative options to your original itinerary to avoid the crowds.

Consider Traveling with a Small Group

If you’re hesitant about traveling alone, consider joining a small group tour. A small group tour can give you a more intimate travel experience while also providing you with built-in social interactions with other travelers. Small group tours may also provide you with insider tips on how to navigate crowded tourist attractions, so you spend your travel time wisely.

Opt for a Private Guided Tour

There are several benefits to private guided travel during peak season, which can help you make the most of your travel experience. Here are a few:

  1. Personalized Itineraries: Private guided travel allows for custom itineraries that cater specifically to your interests and preferences. This means you can avoid crowded tourist attractions during peak season and explore hidden gems in off-the-radar locations.

  2. Local Expertise: Private guided tours offer the insider knowledge and insights of a local guide. This can help you save time and avoid crowds as you navigate popular destinations with ease.

  3. VIP Access: Many private guided tours offer VIP access to popular destinations, which can help you bypass long lines and wait times. This is especially beneficial during peak season when lines can be incredibly long and time-consuming.

  4. Flexibility: Private guided tours offer flexibility in your travel plans, allowing you to change your itinerary based on your preferences. If you’re looking to avoid crowds in a popular destination, your guide can suggest alternative locations or times to visit.

  5. Safety: During peak season, popular tourist destinations can be crowded and overwhelming, making it easy to get lost or separated from your group. Private guided tours offer an added level of safety and security, ensuring that you have a trusted local guide to keep you safe and on track during your travels.

With personalized itineraries, local expertise, VIP access, flexibility, and safety, private guided tours offer a great way to beat the crowds and enjoy an unforgettable travel experience.

Buy travel insurance and evacuation assistance

Travel insurance can protect your financial investment, cover any medical expenses, compensate you for delays or lost luggage, and give you peace of mind. If you’re sick or injured, travel insurance will cover your care at the nearest appropriate facility; you will need medical evacuation insurance such as Medjet if you want to be treated at home.

Be Mindful of Local Customs and Cultures

Finally, it’s important to be mindful of local customs and cultures when traveling in crowded destinations. Be respectful of local communities by being mindful of local customs, dress codes, and social norms. Traveling responsibly means respecting the local communities and leaving positive impacts on the local economy.

Traveling in an unprecedented busy year can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. By choosing your flights and destinations wisely and timing your trips smartly, you can avoid the crowds and have a more enjoyable travel experience. Whether you’re looking for off-the-radar destinations or exploring popular cities during shoulder season, there are plenty of ways to travel smarter during a crowded year to make the most out of your travel experiences.

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