The holidays are quickly approaching, and if you’re still wanting to go somewhere, really anywhere, there are a few things to consider. Most will tell you that you should have booked yesterday, but that’s not really helpful, is it? We talked with our travel expert Carie Skerritt from Dream Vacations to get some advice. Here’s what she said.
1. Inventory Is Scarce
Resorts, hotels, and other lodging options are already full. Skerritt says that inventory is limited this year due to social distancing and health protocol guidelines. Add to that all the other travelers who’ve already booked. If you find availability, expect to pay a premium.
2. Don’t Expect Last Minute Deals
In years past, waiting until the last minute could allow you to snag a nice place at a decent price. For the reasons mentioned above, don’t expect that same this year. It’s difficult to imagine there won’t be any deals, but Skerritt says this isn’t the holiday season to risk it. Bloomberg reports, “there won’t be enough open inventory for any luxury resort to justify lowering its prices” especially during holiday weeks.
3. Book Your Airline Tickets Now
If you need to fly instead of drive to your destination, ticket prices will only continue to increase between now and the holidays, so buy them ASAP. In addition to price concerns, finding the time and day you want to travel will also become increasingly difficult.
4. Book Your Rental Car Now
It feels like a bit ago, but does anyone else remember the debacle in the spring? Rental car companies didn’t have enough inventory to service their reservations. If you need a rental car, reserve it now and have a backup plan. Also, consider joining the rental car company’s rewards program. They’re likely to make sure they get their cars first.
5. Consider Traveling Before Or After The Holidays Instead
Want to avoid the hassles above? Look into traveling before or after the holidays instead. Disney is offering up to 30 percent off on select cruises throughout the holiday season. Skerritt also recommends looking at other times of the year when you’ll get a bigger bang for your hard-earned money.
6. Book Non-Stop Flights
Whether you decide to travel before, during, or after the holidays, Skerritt recommends booking non-stop flights whenever possible. Since the holidays are the busiest time of year to travel, there are often delays, or worse, hundreds of cancelations. Not having a layover eliminates your chance of missing a connecting flight due to delays and allows you more flexibility so you don’t have to spend the night in the airport.
7. Don’t Overpack
This tip is for once you have booked your flight. “The number one item that people wish they had done on every vacation is to not overpack,” says Skerritt. With so many people traveling during the holiday season, a checked bag has a better chance of getting lost. Skerritt suggests packing a carry-on and personal item. “Keeping your luggage with you means you know where it is at all times,” she affirms. Here are some packing tips if you need help downsizing.
8. Consider COVID Travel Restrictions
If you plan on traveling internationally, keep in mind that each country has its own travel restrictions. Check the State Department Travel Advisories and look on the country website for specific travel authorization instructions. Multi-country trips are not recommended at this time because of the different regulations. However, if multiple countries are on your itinerary, make sure you look up the travel requirements for each one. Skerritt also advises understanding the expenses that COVID testing adds to your trip.
Pro Tip: While it felt difficult to do so this year, Skerritt recommends booking 6 to 9 months in advance whenever possible. “To be quite honest, for my clients I recommend not traveling if they haven’t already booked because the same vacation will be cheaper at any other time of the year,” says Skerritt.