Why It’s Smart To Book Your Late 2021 Travel Now
Traveling in the winter months can often be complicated. The weather can have a big impact on the most carefully laid plans, and that’s before you factor in the ongoing precautions over COVID-19. Regardless, whether it’s headed home for the holidays or off on some winter getaway, it’s one of the most popular times to take a trip.
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While winter is still weeks away, booking those trips now can benefit you in the long run. Here’s what some travel experts have to say when it comes to your winter vacation, and why now is the perfect time to start planning.
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The Timing is Right
Planning ahead is necessary when trying to get the best deal on flights, and early fall is an ideal time to start planning your winter vacations.
“Reports have shown that holiday airfare is cheapest 31-60 days prior to departure dates between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve,” explained Liam Hunt, Financial Writer & Analyst at Sophisticated Investor. Though he adds that there are other ways to help increase your chances of scoring a bargain.
“The best thing you can do to save money on holiday airfare is to set up a Google Flights airfare alert several months in advance of your departure,” Hunt said. “This way, you can receive an email notification whenever their automated system finds a cheap ticket around your scheduled dates. When it comes time to book, check the calendar on Google Flights to see which dates and times are the cheapest to fly before finalizing the purchase.”
Demand for Air Travel is Increasing
The timing may be right, but that also means the demand for air travel is continuing to increase. As is the cost.
“If you’re planning on flying this year, now may be the best time to snag tickets — especially for the holiday season or if you have plans to travel to UK or Europe,” said Kelly Soderland, Senior Director of Communications at Trip Actions. She also pointed out that the median daily base flight price surpassed $400 for the first time since mid-August — and that’s before all those additional fees. And it’s likely going to get pricier.
“With news of those routes opening, travelers should expect a sharp increase in pricing over the coming weeks,” Soderland added.
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The Window for Bargains is Closing
In addition to increased demand for tickets, given the nature of hunting for bargains on travel tickets, the window of time to score the best deals for the winter happens to be in early fall.
“Hunting for cheap flights is a lot like clothes shopping. It’s smart to shop for swimwear at the beginning of winter and jackets in summer,” said Andrew Latham, managing editor of Supermoney. “Whenever possible, try to shop for travel one or two seasons ahead of time. You’re more likely to score a bargain if you start searching five to eight months earlier for international flights. For domestic flights, the sweet spot is around three months.”
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The Advantage of Travel Rewards
As people ease their way back into traveling, it’s a good time to check to make sure you’re not sitting on any unused travel rewards from the last time you indulged your wanderlust.
“Since it may have been a minute since you last traveled, it’s possible you have frequent flyer miles or travel points that are about to expire,” Latham said. He also recommends trying to get in touch with the airline if any rewards might have slipped through your grasp over the past several months. “If your points have expired, give them a call. There is a good chance they will give an extension.”
It’s Still Easy, and Affordable, to Change Your Plans
Travel can be uncertain by nature, and conditions continue to change due to the pandemic. Though many restrictions have started to loosen across the U.S. and much of the world, things can change. Luckily, airlines have given travelers much more leeway should plans end up changing.
“One of the reasons flights are so affordable is that airlines know many are wary of traveling now,” Latham said. “The good news is that it is now much easier to change your plans if you feel it isn’t safe. Most airlines no longer charge you for changing dates.”
It Gives You Time to Plan Safely
Right now not only gives you a perfect opportunity to potentially score the best prices for your winter travel, but it gives you plenty of time to plan ahead. Depending on where you travel, there may be additional guidelines in place to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
“Even with the challenges of traveling, you will find that space is limited for the remaining holidays in 2021,” explained Lisa Stierwalt, travel agent at Aggressor Adventures. There may be additional guidelines in place depending on where you’re planning to travel put in place to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
“Countries are managing the travel guidelines with the goal of keeping the tourist and locals as safe as possible,” Stierwalt said. “So, research your dates to compare on cost and availability for your destination.”
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Last updated: Sep. 24, 2021