The travel industry is in overdrive in 2022, and it is not handling it well.
Flight cancelations, lost luggage and airline employee shortages are throwing wrenches left and right into long-dreamed-of post-pandemic travel plans.
Italy’s beautiful Amalfi Coast was apparently much lusted after, as an always popular destination.
But currently, it’s 50% more popular.
Folks who booked nonrefundable trips before the COVID-19 pandemic have rushed to use their vouchers before they expire.
They’re joining the hoards who were yearning to get back on the road after the two-year interruption.
The result, handsome and personable private driver Mario told us, is the place is having the busiest high season he’s ever seen by at least half.
It affected us by having more difficulty booking things, such as restaurants. One highly regarded Amalfi restaurant we’d booked weeks in advance canceled our reservation just hours before. Fortunately, the region is loaded with good restaurant choices.
Planning ahead – always a good idea – is currently key. Ferry reservations to Capri are highly recommended and catching the first morning ferry is suggested.
The stunning Amalfi coastline, patched with dense ascending colorful dwellings, is also awash in tourists.
Surprising, at least to me, was their youth. I’m talking mostly early 20-somethings, occasionally dotted with the apparent “influencer,” holding her iPhone aloft on her selfie stick and animatedly talking, and casually revealing the surroundings – in between outfit changes. It was amusing to watch groups of them parade into a café, sit down, pull out their phones, and immediately check their “likes.”
The Millennials and late Gen Zers are evidently prioritizing travel – and maybe monetizing it – over all else.
With the ability to work from anywhere via an Internet connection or smartphone, they’re able to do so. Airlines, hotels, vehicle services – the service industry in general – is increasingly providing much more access to meet the challenge. We’ve taken advantage of the ability to work from anywhere for years; the young folks have quickly caught on. Instagram tours are available. Young couples posing for professional photographers on the picturesque roads with cute little cars is common.
But the middle-ager in me wondered how they’re preparing, if at all, for their first homes, retirement, and/or children. Also, the middle-ager in me envied their abandon. Also, the middle-ager in me really envied the skimpy clothing they wear so well.
Long, long gone are the days when we first started to hit the road hard in our late 20s/early 30s and were surrounded almost solely by retirees and empty nesters.
And Americans currently are leading this youth trend.
DON’T DRIVE YOURSELF
Italy was always a sought-after destination, but travel insiders say it’s now taking up to 75% of their bookings. To put this in to even more context, the Chinese and Russians currently are not traveling.
Traveling prior to the pandemic, as the Chinese economy boomed, we were often dwarfed particularly by hordes of Chinese tourist groups. We didn’t find it pleasant. The people we encountered in these groups were often loud. Many of them spit on the ground. They seemed not to understand personal space and thought nothing of making space for themselves by elbowing you aside.
So, if they currently were traveling, Italy would be unbearably crowded. However, the tour buses, including those from cruise ships, are still coming through the region’s snaking roads, most of which might qualify as a single bike lane back home.
How vehicles, scooters, pedestrians and buses survive is beyond me. And when two tourist buses must pass each other, I can’t imagine. We literally squeaked by other vehicles at some points.
There is no Uber in Italy, so we highly recommend finding a private driver. Your hotel should offer help. There are other options, such as buses or group tours, but the slightly higher cost of having a private driver is well worth the freedom you’re allowed.
Parking is extremely hard to find, and when you do find it, expect to pay around 20 euro an hour. Scooters sound like a fun idea, but you will also have to park them, not to mention take your life into your hands navigating them.
Possibly the best current advice you should take to heart is to avoid checked luggage if at all possible. Especially if you have a connection. Direct flights are much more reliable, but even so, take a few days’ essentials in a carryon.
We’ve found this out firsthand several times in the past. In India, I discovered stores only carry “long black” and “medicated” shampoos. Being blonde, I opted for the medicated. In Germany, I had to wear my mother-in-law’s underwear for a couple of days. I still cringe. In Greece and France, I had to find men who looked to be my husband’s size to replace his lost business suits and underwear. In Bora Bora, I wore a friend’s very ill-fitting swimsuit.
But in all those cases, we got our bags within a week.
Summer 2022 is being called the “Summer of Lost Luggage” and people are not getting their bags at all. We waited nearly two weeks into our trip before we started buying expensive replacements in Italy.
That was after I found out a friend’s mother-in-law was at more than two months into her lost luggage tale. That led me to find many Facebook groups devoted to personal lost luggage nightmares.
We had been aware of the problem, so we included our dogs’ air tags in our checked bags. So we knew almost immediately that our luggage didn’t make it through a connection in Lisbon, Portugal.
We filed a report at our end destination at that point in Gatwick, and then struggled to reach a human or to get any updates. A week and a half later, we saw our luggage was in Gatwick (we were then in Amalfi). We got a human on the phone and were told they couldn’t locate it though they had obviously moved it.
Days later, a friend and travel industry worker in Morocco offered help. Lo and behold, less than a day later, our luggage was discovered. We had it sent home. By then, we were in Croatia and spent a lot of money on things we didn’t want or need otherwise.
It’s a small comfort to know where your luggage is. But that comfort may be all you get.
Don’t check your luggage. We never will again if we can possibly avoid it.
Also, a friend suggested this other great tip. When you get home, take note of what you actually wore and used. Write it down for next time.
This will help those of you who are like me and typically overpack.