Lindsay Rogers | Nov 8, 2021
Planning a trip is daunting even under the best of circumstances. But sprinkle in a pandemic and a few of what are, historically, the worst days to travel each year, and you’re looking at airfare at a premium, a rental car shortage, an inevitable abundance of cancellations and delays and, of course, all of the subsequent crowds attempting to navigate the same set of ever-changing rules and regulations that you’re facing. Yes, we’re talking about the holidays, which, in case you needed reminding, are right around the corner.
Last year, despite the predictions of experts and against the CDC’s advice, millions of people flocked to the airport during the week of Christmas, with more people traveling through security checkpoints in a handful of days than they had since mid-March. They were unprecedented times met with exactly the outcomes you might expect: long lines, delays, missed flights, angry passengers and, later, corresponding outbreaks.
That said, we’ve been at this for quite some time now, which means we have the experience and foresight to know what to expect this year. The general consensus? It’s going to be even crazier. According to data collected by Kayak, while travel interest for the winter holidays is still slightly down compared to 2019, they’re seeing significant momentum around international and domestic flight searches when compared to 2020 (up 155 percent and 212 percent, respectively). So buckle up.
“While there are some travelers who feel they are not ready to travel due to the Delta variant, there are countless others who see the pandemic as a longterm chronic issue that will not prevent them from traveling,” says Damon Corkin, Founder and Travel Director of Andean Discovery. “Many travelers are realizing that whether it’s a trip to the local grocery store or a trip on a plane, the same inherent risks exist as soon as you take a step outside your home.”
With that in mind, and to make things moderately less frustrating, we went ahead and asked a panel of expert jet-setters — agents, bloggers and various other industry professionals — for their top tips and tricks for navigating a rockier-than-usual holiday season. The result is a compendium of wayfaring wisdom that will make budget-friendly holiday travel feel more accessible and the process as a whole more palatable.
As long as you book soon. Like, now. Because you really, really need to book now.
“Travelers should also be aware that it’s taking longer than usual to receive updated passports. The ripple effect of COVID-19 and the economy of scarcity along with worker shortages has created a massive backlog of between 1.5 and 2 million passport applications, according to a Travel + Leisure article. In fact, the U.S. Department of State, which issues passports, reports that routine service can take up to 18 weeks from the day an application is submitted to the day a new passport is received. If you’re planning to travel abroad for the holidays this year, and your passport is currently expired, you may need to stay closer to home.” — Greg Jung, Seven Corners
Read the full list of Holiday Travel Commandments.