Planning for holiday travel can be stressful. It's even more stressful with COVID-19 and its variants lingering in many areas of the country and worldwide. Health concerns remain a top priority for many people, which may cause some to rethink their traditional holiday travel plans.
Planning for holiday travel may look different this year. But that doesn't mean you can't book a great trip that results in phenomenal holiday memories. And here are a few travel destinations to help you book a holiday season you'll never forget.
1. Look Local
When it comes to travel planning, the earlier you start, the better. You can begin to gather information about destinations. Giving yourself the time to do the research upfront can ensure that everything goes smoothly on the trip. And you can account for budgeting purposes to make sure you have the money you need.
When you plan your holiday travel early, you can also usually score the best deal. Sometimes, that comes by booking way ahead of time. Other times, you might score a deal at the last minute. But when you look at different destinations in your region, you can sometimes identify a great destination. And if you can drive there, you might be able to avoid much of the restrictions that other locations have in place. You will also avoid having to submit health records or take extra safety precautions.
2. Consider US Destinations
For the past year and a half, most individuals have done minimal traveling – and for a good reason. COVID precautions made it very hard to attempt to travel or see family members. And now, vaccination rates are increasing at the same time as new variants of the virus are becoming more common. It's sending mixed messages to many travelers. Additionally, the vaccine's efficacy may diminish with time, leaving many people wanting to plan their holiday travel. But they might not have a lot of confidence that they will see their plans through.
Staying in the US can make planning for holiday travel easier since many foreign countries require health documentation. And travel to US destinations is becoming easier in many areas. For instance, the state of New York had quarantine precautions in effect for a long time. Now, these restrictions have eased, and travelers do not have to present health documentation. So, if New York has been on your dream holiday vacation list, now might be the time to book that vacation.
But beware that circumstances may change at any time. Fortunately, many travel companies, airlines, and other companies in the hospitality industry are offering more flexible terms than they have ever offered before. These policies make it easy to book your trip weeks or months in advance. And if anything changes that would impact your ability to take the trip, you will likely be able to secure a refund or be able to re-book at a later date.
3. International Destinations Might Still be an Option
Like the New York example above, many foreign destinations are issuing information about the precautions visitors need to take. And some countries require a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination. If you consider traveling internationally, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the local restrictions in the destination country. If you fail to follow these policies, you might be denied entry into the state or country you plan to visit. And that would mean spending your holidays trying to navigate the already busy travel options trying to get back home. Worse still, your holiday plans will be ruined without warning.
Both the US Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) maintain travel warnings for all areas of the world. They can tell you about restrictions when visiting certain places and tell you the mask ratings for each country. This information can help you to determine whether it is safe for you to visit or not based on your precautions. You can also follow the travel channels of many destinations on Facebook or Twitter for additional real-time information.
4. Consider a Remote Get-away
While many families congregate indoors during the cold holiday season, consider doing something different. You could invite the family on a holiday excursion to one of the region's national parks. But be sure to pick one that is warm enough to visit over the holidays.
Or you could find a remote cabin (our favorite) or grouping of cabins out of town. This type of vacation might ease the worries of even the family members most concerned about COVID exposure. A remote location minimizes risk and allows the family to enjoy the holidays surrounded by the beloved wilderness. It could be an easy, fun, maybe a little Strange and beautiful holiday season with little planning.
No Matter Where You Decide to Go – Be Prepared!
The bottom line is that we are going through a highly uncertain time. Pandemic precautions are constantly evolving. And health and safety expectations vary from city to city and state to state – not to mention international differences. The bottom line is that you should be as prepared as you can before disembarking.
Being prepared may mean bringing an extra credit card in case of unforeseen expenses. It's also always a good idea to travel with a first aid kit, especially if you plan to visit a national park or remote area. And bring extra masks. Most airlines, hotels, and attractions still have mask mandates, even if the state does not. If you are uncertain, you can Google the requirements. But because circumstances are constantly evolving, it's always best to carry extra masks with you.
While the leaves are still just beginning to change in many parts of the country (especially here in Nevada!), the holiday season is around the corner. And after a holiday season that looked markedly different for many families in 2020, it's no surprise many people are eager to travel. And while travel is generally considered safer this year than last, you should still put effort into planning holiday travel. Then you can focus on having a great time with loved ones! This extra prep work can ensure that all of our Strangers remain safe throughout any trip you have planned.