It’s hard to believe, but 2022 is just around the corner. And with a new year comes a whole slate of New Year’s resolutions. From getting to the gym more to eating less sugar and reading more, the new year is the perfect time to reset.
As we all know, these resolutions may be broken, but the sentiment behind making them in the first place is sound — a way to take a look at aspects of life and decide to make a change for the better. The same principle applies to travel, and perhaps, it’s even more relevant going into 2022, given the upheaval and change the industry has experienced throughout the past two years.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional traveler, it’s a great idea to “take inventory” of all our individual travel strategies and outlooks and make changes so that travel in 2022 — and beyond — is more seamless and rewarding than ever before. Even if you’re not quite ready to get back out there, there are some resolutions you can make looking to the years ahead.
Here’s a look at some of our top resolutions that you can make — and keep — easily to instantly boost your travel experience going into the new year and beyond.
It’s paramount that any traveler — from infrequent vacationers to full-blown road warriors — be enrolled in the loyalty programs of the airlines, hotels, car rental companies and more they may utilize. For less-frequent flyers, simply enrolling in a free loyalty program ensures you can earn points toward free travel in the future. And for those who practically live on the road, you’ll be able to reach elite status and all the perks that come with it.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to check in on where you stand with your various loyalty accounts. We recommend checking any accounts you have with airlines, hotel chains, rental car companies and more to make sure you have active accounts and any points you may have aren’t in danger of expiring.
Each loyalty program will have its own rules and regulations regarding points expiration. For example, American Airlines AAdvantage miles expire after 18 months of no account activity. Meanwhile, Delta SkyMiles never expire. Ultimately, it pays to be aware of your miles’ expiration so they never go to waste.
One of the most frustrating aspects of travel is navigating the airport. Long lines and big crowds can add unnecessary stress and time to travel days and can start any trip off on the wrong foot.
However, there are steps you can take to mitigate these inconveniences and stressors, and first and foremost is signing up for CLEAR. It’s an expedited airport security service that uses biometrics to verify your identity and allows you to “skip” the security line.
CLEAR is one of our favorite services, and if you travel frequently through any of the airports at which it operates, it’s a service you’ll absolutely want to add to your travel arsenal. This time-saving tool typically costs $179 per year, but there are numerous ways to get the membership at a discount — or even completely free.
There are few situations in travel more frustrating than landing back at home after a long international flight and walking directly into a lengthy line at the customs and immigration desk. This can add a significant amount of time — and frustration — to any travel day, especially when getting home is the number one priority.
Thankfully, there is a way to avoid this nightmare scenario entirely: enrolling in Global Entry. This program, facilitated by the US Customs Customs and Border Protection (CBP), allows for expedited entry into the US for certain travelers who have met the criteria to participate.
Once you’re approved, you can forget about filling out paperwork or waiting in long lines to speak to an immigration officer. Simply visit a dedicated Global Entry kiosk, follow the prompts on the screen and you’ll receive a printed receipt to hand to an officer on your way out of the arrivals hall — that’s it.
If you’re even a semi-frequent international traveler, Global Entry is well worth the $100 fee, which gets you five years of membership, as well as enrollment in the TSA PreCheck program, which is a separate expedited airport security program that allows you to go through security without removing shoes, electronics, liquids and more.
Numerous premium travel credit cards including the Platinum Card from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve provide a statement credit that covers the cost of Global Entry enrollment. Pay for the application fee with your eligible card and the charge will be credited off your statement — scoring you free Global Entry and TSA PreCheck memberships for five years.
Another tried-and-true method of making any trip to the airport more enjoyable is visiting an airport lounge. Instead of fighting for a hard chair in a crowded, noisy gate area, spend your pre-flight time relaxing in style with a complimentary drink and meal to enjoy.
Nowadays, travelers have plenty of options when it comes to airport lounges. There are airline-branded and operated lounges, of course, but recently, there has been a proliferation of card issuer-branded airport lounges. The most well-known of these are American Express’ Centurion Lounges, though rival Capital One has recently gotten in on the competition and Chase plans to do so in 2022. Finally, there are lounges operated by third-party groups that are accessible through lounge membership programs like Priority Pass.
There are numerous ways to score access to airport lounges, but the easiest way is by holding the right credit card. Many premium travel cards offer complimentary access as a perk of holding the card. For example, the Amex Platinum card grants card holders access to the issuer’s expanding portfolio of Centurion Lounges, as well as Delta’s Sky Clubs when you fly with the airline. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, on the other hand, provides cardholders with a complimentary membership to the Priority Pass network, which has more than 1,300 lounges throughout the world.
We’re living in a time of unprecedented change to our climate, and as travelers, we have a responsibility to care for the places we visit and impact through our tourism.
There are plenty of ways to reduce our carbon footprint when we travel, from choosing airlines that use sustainable biofuels to power their jets, to taking high-speed trains instead of airplanes where possible and staying at hotels and resorts that have sustainability as a core part of their mission.
You can also strive to produce as little plastic waste as possible, conserve water and choose activities that have a minimal impact on the environment, such as hiking or biking. Even with small, eco-friendly changes to our travel habits, we can start to make a difference in the fight against climate change on our planet.
There’s nothing quite like discovering a new place for the first time. The thrill of experiencing new sights, sounds and smells for the first time is a feeling not easily replicated, and travel to new places opens our eyes and hearts to new cultures, new people and perhaps even an entirely new way of looking at the world.
Travel expands our worldview and enriches us as humans, and as we continue to slowly emerge from the global pandemic, it’s a perfect time to dust off your travel bucket list and pick a place you haven’t been to yet.
Keep in mind that travel restrictions are constantly changing. If you feel comfortable booking a vacation to a new destination, be sure to follow the restrictions in the lead-up to your trip, noting that borders may shut and restrictions may change at a moment’s notice.