Expert Tips for Snowbirds to Ensure Stress-Free Travel

Expert Travel Tips for Snowbirds from Merit

We know that snowbirds do a lot of travelling – both over the winter and at other times of the year. But are you getting the best advice for all of your travel needs? 

To help provide you with insider travel tips, Snowbird Advisor asked our travel partner, Merit Travel, to share their expertise and provide their top tips for planning and booking snowbird and non-snowbird travel, including how to optimize your travel, get the most value, save money and avoid potential problems and pitfalls.

It’s also important to understand the benefits of working with a travel advisor to plan and book your travel, as they will be there to help you before, during and after your trip to give advice and step in should anything unforeseen happen. They also have access to fares, products and information that you don’t when you are just searching online.

Merit Travel has decades of experience helping clients navigate the myriad of travel options out there. Here are some of their essential tips to ensure your next journey is smooth sailing from start to finish.

Plan with purpose

The key to stress-free travel begins with careful planning. Whether you are planning your next snowbird winter getaway or a vacation over the summer, it’s helpful to clarify what is important to you and what your priorities are before choosing a destination - or even a hotel. 

It is equally important to discuss this with whoever you are travelling with to find out if you are even on the same page – and if you are not, where and how you will compromise so everyone will enjoy the trip.

If you are planning a trip to Europe, for example, do you want to travel by rental car, motor coach or train to get around? Or perhaps a river cruise is the best way to explore Europe for you? 

How important are galleries, museums and historical sites? Is food a big part of the reason you travel? Or is it wine? Are you looking for a touch of adventure when you travel? 

And last but not least, what is your budget? This is an essential part of travel planning.

You should always have this discussion before involving a travel advisor. Getting your priorities clear will ensure nobody is disappointed with the outcome and also help the advisor understand what you are looking for.

Tap into expertise

Today, many people simply search online for their travel information, and while you can certainly learn a lot this way, planning and booking travel can be complex, depending on the type of travel you are doing. Why navigate the intricacies of travel planning alone when you can enlist the help of a knowledgeable travel advisor?

Travel advisors are well-travelled themselves and have access to insider information on flights, cruises, destinations, attractions and deals - some of which you will not find yourself. They are also up to date on visa requirements and other requirements such as vaccinations.

From securing the best deals to providing insider tips on hidden gems and must-see attractions, travel advisors are working for you to ensure you get exactly what you are looking for - and at the best possible price. 

Travel advisors are also a tremendous help when things go wrong - if your hotel can’t find your booking or your flight is cancelled, who are you going to call? In addition, if any other problems arise during your trip, your travel advisor can usually help you navigate the complaint process.  

Using the services of a professional travel advisor can save you time and money, as well as avoid and solve travel-related problems.

Timing is everything

When it comes to booking your travel arrangements, timing can be crucial to get the best pricing or avoid crowds.

Whether you're planning a river cruise, an ocean cruise, a European tour, an exotic escape, or a snowbird long stay, knowing when to book - and when to travel - can make all the difference.

Booking well ahead is important for certain types of travel that often gets sold out early - such as river cruise prime dates and itineraries, or luxury and exotic tours. By booking early you get your choice of dates and room or cabin type, etc...  

It is also critical for snowbird winter escapes as these get booked as far as a year in advance.

Travelling during shoulder season – or off-season – can save you thousands and help you avoid crowds. 

An experienced travel advisor can help you navigate the complexities of timing, ensuring you secure the best rates and availability for your desired destinations and experiences.

Prepare for the unexpected

While we always hope for smooth sailing, it's essential to be prepared for the unexpected. From flight delays to unexpected weather events, travel disruptions can happen when you least expect them.

Having a travel advisor who you can call when things go wrong is invaluable. Your travel advisor can contact airlines directly to assist you in re-booking or finding lost luggage.

It is also essential that you always purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy to provide peace of mind and financial protection in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Be a savvy packer

Packing can be a daunting task, but with a little foresight and planning, it doesn't have to be stressful.

Today, many people try to travel with carry-on luggage only to avoid the risk of lost luggage and baggage fees and be able to leave the airport more quickly. However, some trips – especially longer or cold weather ones - make carry-on luggage an impossibility.

Start by making a packing list and gathering essential items such as clothing, toiletries, reading material and travel documents.

Layering is a great strategy to avoid having to pack or carry a bulky coat or jacket.

Be sure to pack versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits, allowing for maximum flexibility and comfort during your travels.

If you are going on a river or ocean cruise or staying somewhere that has laundry facilities or services – consider taking fewer items as you will be able to have some of your clothing laundered.

Stay flexible

While having a well-planned itinerary is essential, it is also important to leave some downtime and room in your itinerary - and to stay flexible in the event that unexpected opportunities or roadblocks arise.

Some of the best travel memories are made when the unexpected happens or even when things go wrong. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

The bottom line

By following these tips and working with an experienced travel advisor, such as the experts at Merit Travel - one of Canada’s largest travel companies specializing in leisure and luxury travel - you'll be well-equipped to embark on your next trip with confidence and peace of mind.

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