Satisfy your wanderlust — Four tips for the modern traveller

Graphic of wanderlust text with travel images inside letters

LINK checked in with Stephanie Mercredi, an instructor with the School of Hospitality and Tourism, for her insights into travel today. Named one of Canada’s top travel agents by Canadian Travel Press in 2020, she’s also co-creator of Destinations Travel by SAIT — North America’s only student-run travel centre. Using cutting-edge industry software, it offers flight and hotel bookings for the SAIT community, including alumni.

1. Know your cancellation policies

Always ask your travel agent about cancellation policies for flights, hotels and car rentals. If airlines make schedule changes and there’s a flight delay of three hours or more, or if your flight is cancelled, the airline will provide a refund or arrange alternate flights with no change fees.

Understanding cancellation policies can be crucial during events like this year’s unprecedented wildfires worldwide and, as environmental challenges evolve, these policies are becoming a  significant component of responsible journeying. Mercredi says airlines like Air Canada will notify travel agents when they’re waiving change or cancellation fees due to fire evacuations affecting particular destinations.

2. Watch travel trends

Overcrowding, changing conditions, new experiences — knowing the trends helps you plan better and travel mindfully.

For example, hotspots like Amsterdam and Venice are closing their cruise ports to manage overtourism, so look for less-populated cities to visit.

Extreme heat is impacting countless tourist havens, and Mercredi predicts travellers may opt for shoulder season getaways. To improve your chances of avoiding scorching heat waves, book travel time when it’s spring or fall in your destination. 

One new travel trend is dark tourism — visiting sites associated with tragedy or disaster. Mercredi stresses the need for respect. “These experiences should be valued as educational, not for entertainment,” she says.

3. Don't rely just on AI

Travel planning is one more way artificial intelligence (AI) is changing our lives — but Mercredi advises against relying solely on AI travel platforms. 

“AI can be useful for initial research or planning, but it lacks the adaptability and creativity of experienced travel agents,” she says. “It may not consider important factors like in-destination costs, or it might offer information based on online hotel reviews. Speaking to a real person can provide better assistance and customization.”

However, for organization on the go, Mercredi recommends apps like TripIt. The app allows users to upload booked flights, hotel confirmations and concert tickets into a comprehensive itinerary accessible from their smartphone.

4. Know your rights

Check Canada's Air Passenger Protection Regulations covering compensation for cancellations, lost luggage and other problems with flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights.

For example, airlines must notify you of flight delays, but compensation can be complex. You could be eligible for assistance including food, accommodations, rebooking or a refund — it all depends on how much control the airline had over the delay, how late you arrive at your destination, and the size of the airline.

“Understanding current regulations can help you better navigate disruptions and receive the compensation you’re entitled to,” Mercredi says. “Don’t just accept the airline’s offer of $100 and a rescheduled flight.”

BONUS TIPS

✈️Follow Destinations Travel by SAIT on Instagram @destinationsbysait or call 403.284.8455 for hours during the academic term.

🧳 Check out Quick budget-friendly getaways from YYC to inspire your next adventure.

💸 SAIT alumni now receive preferred rates on travel insurance from TD Insurance Meloche Monnex.