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The 2021 holiday season is here! Where did the time go, hey?

It feels like only yesterday we welcomed in the New Year, and here we are again, about to usher in 2022.

But before we get to New Year celebrations and one too many glasses of wine and mimosas, there’s the holiday season. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas are the busiest times of the year for the travel industry, and 2021 is no exception.

However, there are quite a few interesting holiday travel trends popping up which may surprise you.

Here’s what you can expect as well as some tips to help you navigate the festive season.

Holiday Travel Trends & Tips

Green Light for Holiday Travel

christmas in new york

According to the Amex Trendex report, 47% of Americans plan to go away for at least one holiday this season.

After two years of travel restrictions, people are itching to go somewhere that isn’t their neighborhood grocery store.

For brands, this means you need to make sure your holiday promotions are ready to go. Starting late means you might miss capturing the market before plans are locked in for the holiday season.

For travelers, don’t leave your planning to the last minute. The best hotels will fill up fast, and flight prices steadily increase the closure we get to the holidays.

Don’t Expect Cheap Flights

inside a plane

The pandemic did a number on the travel industry, especially the airlines.

With that in mind, don’t expect flights to be empty or cheap. With fewer flights to destinations than pre-COVID, your choices are limited, and the airlines don’t have margins for cheap-as-chips flights.

If you want to save money, skip the plane ride and go on a road trip. It can work out cheaper, and when you tap into reward and loyalty programs, you might be able to upgrade to your dream hotel for less.

Rental Shortages Are Expected…Again

drone shot of road

Just like in 2021, people are hitting the road.

If you want to go on a road trip, book your vehicle in advance. The same can be said for anything else you may need to rent out, whether that be services similar to Vail snowboard rental or a holiday lodge let for a week in the mountains, it is advisable to make sure you have booked ahead. The further you book in advance the less chance you will have of disappointment and potentially high premiums to access services that could be in high demand.

Not keen on the high prices? Use your car or find a friend who wants to share fuel costs and go on an adventure with you.

Notwithstanding these things, you might want to look into the best phone and internet bundles to save a few bucks. This might ensure that while you’re traveling, your family can contact you via phone. You also won’t have to worry about having a reliable Internet connection when you return home and need to immediately get back to work from home in a lockdown situation.

Increase Your Chances of a Room Upgrade

the stanley hotel

Curious about how Jane from accounting always manages to get hotel upgrades?

If you want to live the luxe life without the price tag, here are some of my top tips for schmoozing up to hotel staff and landing that suite.

  1. Book direct. Sure, sites like Booking.com have some great deals, but the hotel has to split the booking fee. When you book your stay directly from the website of Meriton Suites or other hotels, the hotel gets all of the money, and there’s a reason to upgrade your room.
  2. Call and let them know your preferences. If you’re in town for a special occasion, let them know! Forming a personal connection goes a long way in getting a free room upgrade.
  3. Look out for specials. When it’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can find some crazy good deals with big-name brands like Marriott.

Choosing a Holiday Destination

new-york-romantic-hotel-packages

If you’re game to fly and want a destination other than “home for the holidays,” you’re not alone.

42% percent of participants said they would skip celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S. to take an international vacation.

Need some trip inspo? Here’s what is currently trending:

New York: The Big Apple is back with a vengeance. Broadway shows are once again happening, and travelers want that festive New York holiday feeling. I don’t know about you, but walking down Fifth Avenue with the Christmas trees, lights sparkling, and snowfall screams, “it’s the happiest time of year” to me.

Mexico: Only a short flight from most US destinations, Mexico is the perfect post-pandemic vacation getaway. Swap out the chilly temperatures for warm weather, white-sand beaches, and non-stop margaritas.

Canada: The Great White North is another option for Americans who feel wary about long-haul travel. You’re close enough to home but still exploring a brand new country. Plus, the Christmas festivities in Quebec are nothing short of spectacular.

Caribbean: Whether you want to explore the Dominican Republic or the fascinating island of Cuba, the Caribbean never disappoints. The good news is that cruises are back on, making it easier than ever to island-hop through this beautiful part of the world.

South Africa: It’s a lengthy flight away, but it’s worth it! With no mandatory quarantine period and a low level of restrictions, there’s no better time to visit the tip of Africa. Not only will your dollars go a long way, but December to February is one of the best times to visit the country, especially Cape Town. While you’re there, it’s only a short flight (and inexpensive flight) to neighboring countries Namibia, Botswana, and Mozambique.

Plan Around The Busiest Days of Holiday Travel

holiday travel trends christmas markets

The busiest days for holiday travel are different in 2021.

According to Priceline reports, November 15 was the busiest day for Thanksgiving.

According to Kayak, December 22 is the most popular travel day, and December 28 is a close second.

With more people working remotely than ever before, it’s shifted to peak travel days. If you can, use your work-from-home policies to avoid these busy periods.

You’ll get cheaper flight prices and avoid the holiday travel rush.

Give the Gift of Travel

give the gift of travel holiday trends

With everyone itching to use their passports, there really is no better gift this year than travel.

Not only is it a great present for (almost) everyone, but you can scoop up some incredible travel deals for the year ahead.

With Black Friday just around the corner, keep your eyes peeled and credit cards raring to go!

2021 Holiday Travel Trends

What holiday travel trends have you noticed? Are you going to head to the skies and go somewhere like Mexico or a road trip somewhere closer to home?

Let me know in the comments below!