How to plan ahead for a holiday season trip

We know this year has been tough – and there is so much uncertainty surrounding, well, everything. But in times like these, it can be good to have things to look forward to. While today the situation with coronavirus is not great for travel, it may be that having a future trip in the works helps you, as a traveler, stay positive (as long as that trip is 100% cancellable, refundable, and all those good things). With recent searches for flights for the holiday season up 20% compared to this time last year, we know that many travelers are eager to get away for the winter holidays (and potentially see dearly-missed family… or escape to the mountains for some quiet and good cheer). So to help you get ready, here are some of our top tips on how to plan ahead.

Start your short-term travel bucket list now.

We get that November/December seems like years away — and there’s no telling what world we’ll be living in at that point. So start your short-term bucket list: what are the places you want to experience and who are the people you want to see this holiday season? If your Plan A is renting a car and snagging a cabin in the woods a state away, what is your Plan B? Having answers will help you prepare for any necessary last-minute changes. If you’re not sure where you want to go, our Road Trips Nearby tool highlights exciting places to travel to, all within driving distance.

Set alerts to the destinations you want.

At this point, there are two types of alerts you want to set: Price Alerts (so you know when hotel or flight prices change) and Restriction Alerts (so you know if a destination is lifting or tightening restrictions in the face of COVID-19). Being prepared on both ends will let you not only plan out and stick to your travel budget, but also will help you manage expectations along the way.

Consider nearby accommodation when visiting family.

We know seeing close friends and family is so much of what the holiday season is about for many. But this year, jamming into one house (like the Griswolds) may not be the best option. With over 3 million properties (1+ million hotels and 2+ million rentals), we have you covered to celebrate the holidays with your family as safely as possible.

Look for flexible cancellation policies.

Given that a lot can happen in 5 months, or even 5 hours, we’ve made it easier to find out which travel options are offering travelers more flexibility. We’ve rounded up information on the airline, hotel and rental car partners that have flexible change and/or cancellation options, including waived fees. You can also see these options when you search: use our “Flexible Options” filter, or look for the similarly named tag that indicates a cancellable booking or waived change/cancellation fee.

Widen your date range.

If you’re searching for a vacation home or car rental and using very specific dates, consider whether or not you can be a bit more flexible. Sometimes, leaving just a few days earlier than you intended can save you a considerable amount. We give you the option to select “flexible dates” when you search, so you can see travel dates up to 3 days before or after what you intended.

Check health and safety policies.

Whether you’re leaving home tomorrow or 5 months from now, at the forefront of anyone’s mind is: How do I know that where I’m going is safe? While we recommend using official sites to stay up to date, our Travel Restrictions page gives you a look at international and domestic destinations, including a state by state breakdown. If you’re more concerned about the cleanliness policies of where you’re staying, what car agency you’re renting from or what airline you’re flying, we’ve worked with some of our partners to provide a look at their Health and Safety Policies that have come into effect since the start of the pandemic.

 

Methodology: Flight searches were conducted from the US with search dates of 3/1/20 – 7/6/20 (Compared to the same dates the previous year) for travel from 11/15/20 – 1/4/21 (Compared to the same dates the previous year).

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