COVID-19 travel tips: What to know before flying
Are you flying for the first time since the pandemic began? Here are a few steps you can take in advance to ensure you don’t get stuck at the airport.
The holiday travel season is typically the busiest time of the year.
But, this year, the COVID-19 pandemic combined with travel restrictions — both domestic and international — have complicated things. So, what will this 2020 holiday travel season look like?
Here’s some predictions from top travel experts:
Travel expert Amanda Norcross expects an uptick in travel this holiday season, despite less people traveling overall. “Many will be traveling to see family and friends for the first time since quarantine began, and are likely to score lower airfares as cash-strapped airlines compete to offer the best deals,” says Norcross.
Hopper’s new Holiday Travel Confidence Report also suggests an increase in travel is likely. According to a poll, 39% say they plan to travel during the holidays this year. However, 21% have said they do not plan to travel, though in a typical year, they would. About 50% plan to fly over Thanksgiving and 75% say they will for the December holidays.
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When it comes to road travel, the American Automobile Association (AAA) is the go-to source for data. The association typically releases its travel forecasts for the Thanksgiving and year-end holidays in November and December, respectively. A spokesperson at AAA says given the implications of COVID, it is difficult to make any estimations at this point of what travel around the holidays will look like this year.
AAA says the summer travel forecast may be the best guide at this point. This summer, Americans were expected to take more than 700 million trips from July through September, a decline of 15% compared to last year.
RVs & camping
RVShare.com, a site for renting recreational vehicles, anticipates a rise in bookings this November and December, as more travelers may opt to hit the roads. While the weather will be much colder in some parts of the country, the RV and camping boom will likely continue.
”More than half of travelers (in a recent poll) said they would consider renting an RV to visit family and stay in a family member’s driveway or nearby campground to social distance,” says RVShare Spokesperson Maddi Bourgerie.
Cruise lines unclear
When it comes to cruising this holiday, no one really knows. As of right now, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s no-sail order continues till Nov. 1, and there’s no telling whether the CDC will extend it beyond that date.
InsureMyTrip data shows that while overall travel is down for the holidays, travel insurance remains in demand. According to a recent customer survey, roughly 90% of customers are highly interested in coverage in the event they want to cancel a trip due to covid-19 fears.
“We do recommend that holiday travelers consider travel insurance with the cancel for any reason upgrade. This way, policyholders can back out of a trip and get money back — not a voucher — as long as they meet requirements, “ says InsureMyTrip Director of eCommerce Cheryl Golden.
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Hotel travel deals vary
When it comes to travel prices this holiday, experts predict there will be bargains with average hotel rates lower than previous years.
“Hotel rates in the U.S. for Thanksgiving are averaging a low of $117 per night and $150 on average per night for Christmas,” says Liana Corwin, a consumer travel expert at travel booking app, Hopper.
Flexible travel dates
Hotels and vacation rental companies expect less pressure on the traditional peak holiday travel weeks.
“Because of the ability to work and school remotely, families will be enjoying longer trips over the holidays and can choose to travel during less popular days and times to avoid crowded roads and airplanes,” says James Henderson, CEO of Exclusive Resorts Exclusive Resorts.
Henderson also anticipates a strong demand for safe sanctuaries via standalone vacation residences with COVID-era amenities like dedicated concierge service, private pools, ample outdoor space, and fully-equipped kitchens.
Health & safety precautions
Experts predict more communication from travel suppliers and booking sites this holiday regarding any health protocols to help guard against COVID.
For example, Booking.com just released a new feature on their property listings dubbed “Health & Safety Measures.” CMO Arjan Dijk says this feature displays measures the property is taking in areas such as hygiene, distancing and food safety, “so we encourage travelers to read through these safety measures to help them select a property that gives them peace of mind.
The U.S. hotel industry is prepared for just about any scenario this holiday. There’s strong potential high demand for so-called “flex spaces”, areas that can transition from a bedroom to a workspace, with the option for extended-stays.
“Here in Miami we expect multi-family travelers to extend holiday stays beyond the average week to multiple weeks, even months, in hotels that can offer flex spaces that go from a living room/bedroom to a work from home or remote learning space,” says Rick Ueno, general manager of W South Beach.
Early birds win
While early bird advice seems redundant, Mark Jackson, travel editor for Brad’s Deals says as soon as you know your travel dates over the holiday — book your flights. While flights are historically lower, they could go higher as we get closer to the season.
“With less flights than normal this year due to service cutbacks, there won’t be many deals at all during the holidays. And, with less flights, you’ll have less choice on when you can fly. It’s best to guarantee your preferred travel times by booking early,” says Jackson.