How to master holiday travel | Special Sections

Travel and the holiday season typically go hand in hand. That changed in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic greatly reduced year-end travel.

With travel restrictions now lifted due to the successful rollout of various COVID-19 vaccines, year-end holiday travel will likely increase significantly in 2021. According to figures from AAA, year-end holiday air travel declined by roughly 60{e9f0aada585b9d73d0d08d3c277fd760092386ec23cac37d50f4b8cd792b062a} in 2020 compared to a year earlier, while year-end holiday automobile travel dipped by nearly 25{e9f0aada585b9d73d0d08d3c277fd760092386ec23cac37d50f4b8cd792b062a} between 2019 and 2020. That means a lot of travelers can benefit from a refresher course on holiday travel in advance of what promises to be an especially popular year to head home for the holidays.

  • Plan and book early. The demand for travel spiked considerably in the summer of 2021, as millions of fully vaccinated individuals once again felt comfortable going on vacation. That demand figures to be just as high if not higher this holiday season. The April 2021 U.S. Travel Association Travel Price Index indicated a 30{e9f0aada585b9d73d0d08d3c277fd760092386ec23cac37d50f4b8cd792b062a} cost increase in April 2021 over the same month a year prior. Holiday travelers who don’t want to be overcome by such sticker shock or priced out of going home this holiday season can make their plans and book their flights, auto rentals and hotel rooms as early as possible.
  • Research potential restrictions. Domestic travelers may not experience many restrictions when traveling this holiday season, but that may not be the case for international travelers. Social distancing guidelines and travel bans may be instituted as variants of COVID-19 spread, so travelers should be aware of such restrictions prior to booking their trips. Travelers concerned about cancellations due to COVID-19 should research their travel insurance options so they can be reimbursed if they ultimately need to cancel their holiday travel plans.
  • · Ship gifts. Not every hurdle associated with traveling for the holidays will be pandemic-related. More traditional issues like baggage costs haven’t gone away, so travelers may need a reminder that shipping gifts from home as opposed to taking them aboard flights or in cramped cars is often a more cost-effective way to get presents from point A to point B. Holiday travelers who intend to ship gifts should begin their shopping early to ensure the gifts arrive on time.
  • Expect delays. After a slow holiday season a year ago, the travel industry will likely experience a few bumps between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in 2021. After all, travel professionals will need to dust off some of the same cobwebs as their customers. Plan ahead for delays by bringing along plenty of things to keep you occupied. Parents can bring some extra books and download an extra movie or two for their kids so everyone has something to do when confronted with delays and traffic.

A refresher course in holiday travel can help travelers in advance of what figures to be a very busy time of year to travel in 2021.