Traveling for the holidays? Experts say book before Halloween


ROANOKE, Va. – If you’re taking off the tarmac or hitting the highway, experts say you need to book your holiday trip before Halloween.

“We’re seeing a high demand for traffic, lots of searches, lots of flights booking. And since there’s not as much capacity and demand is going up, it’s a bit like musical chairs,” said Brad Boettcher, the director of marketing and air service development at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.

With more shots in arms, travel is up.

“There’s still just a lot of pent-up demand of people that haven’t traveled anywhere. As the vaccination rates are up, people are feeling more comfortable,” said Boettcher.

But high demand and limited availability mean prices will soar. Travel website Hopper said prices could jump up to 40% higher if you book after Halloween―add an extra 25% if you book last minute.

Thanksgiving week bookings are 35% higher than the same time pre-pandemic after many people skipped celebrating the holidays with family last year due to COVID-19.

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“Just family coming in for the holidays. Everybody’s vaccinated,” said Yasmeen Adams, whose family lives in Philadelphia. “They’ll probably just drive up.”

Alex Schmid, a German exchange student at Virginia Tech, said his flight plans are set.

“I’m probably going to LA, so California. I already booked flights because they increase every day, the prices,” said Schmid.

Martha Meade with AAA Mid-Atlantic said people need to book rental cars as soon as possible.

“Rental car prices have been enormously high. Sometimes two, three, four, five, six times as high as they were before,” said Meade. “Booking in advance on a car rental is huge and that’s not getting any better anytime soon.”

“If I was going to travel during the holidays, I would go ahead and start booking now,” said Marcie White, who traveled to Roanoke from Mississippi.

Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.



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‘Book now’: Ford Airport prepares for boost in travel during the holidays


CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The holidays are right around the corner, which means people are starting to book their plane tickets to visit family and friends. Officials with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport say their biggest piece of advice is to book your tickets early.

Stephen Clark, the director of commercial development, says back during the Fourth of July holiday, they saw travel numbers hit pre-pandemic levels and they’re expecting that to happen again.

Clark says it’s also important to check entry rules and restrictions for different states and countries before you travel, as they are everchanging. The airport still has its COVID-19 testing site available on the property to use.

He says they’re continuing to prioritize safety by cleaning regularly, noting that masks will be required when flying until the middle of January at the very earliest.

“Folks want to get out and travel. They can do so safely and they’re going to destinations where they can travel safely so they’re booking earlier, so those good deals aren’t lasting as long,” said Clark. “I think the big piece of advice for folks this holiday season who are looking to travel is book now and be ready to go.”

When it comes to airport staffing shortages, Clark says to be prepared to be patient when traveling as lines will be longer for the time being.

They plan to host a hiring event to combat this in the coming weeks.





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Travel writer publishes book on 100 things to do in Lansing


LANSING, Mich. — Anyone familiar with Lansing are most likely also familiar with the complaint that there’s nothing to do here.

Not true, according to travel blogger Amy Piper.

The Lansing native just published her first book, “100 Things to do in Lansing before you die.”

“Some people laughed at me literally when I said I was doing this and these were good friends of mine,” said Piper. “One guy said ‘Well, what do you do after 48?'”

Grounded and unable to travel for the first time in years because of the pandemic, Piper spent the last year compiling her top Capitol city go-to’s.

The book covers the 25-mile radius around Lansing and is divided into five chapters on food and drink, music and entertainment, sports and recreation, history and culture and shopping and fashion.

“I tried to put things in here that were evergreen,” Piper said. “In other words, you could come, you could pick up the book, and do it any day of the week.”

Inside the book you’ll find excerpts on familiar spots like Potter Park Zoo, and Saddleback BBQ, but you’ll also find hidden gems like Shigematsu Memorial Garden at Lansing Community College.

“This garden is right amongst the hustle and bustle of the city, but many people don’t know that it’s here,” Piper said.

Other city secrets include a private house museum that is open by appointment only and full of Beatles paraphernalia and the secret to enjoying a free concert any night of summer in Lansing.

For the rest of Piper’s Capitol city secrets? Well she says you’ll just have to read to find out.

You can read more of Amy’s travel tips, at her blog Follow the Piper.

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Book your holiday flights now, travel experts say


Travel experts are predicting a busy holiday travel season. They estimate Americans will be flying to visit family and friends in much greater numbers than last year, thanks in large part to rising vaccinations and lower infection rates in many states. 

Major airlines are already starting to add more flights to meet demand, said Clint Henderson, senior news editor for the online travel guide The Points Guy.

“We’re seeing an explosion in demand. In fact, prices are high and climbing already,” Henderson said. “The domestic demand is almost at pre-pandemic levels, and airlines are adding tons of flights, especially to warm-weather destinations.” 

Travelers should be ready for possible disruptions in service like we saw recently with Southwest Airlines.

“It’s been a bit of a mess for a few airlines a few times this year, mostly attributable to staff shortages,” Henderson said. “We expect that to continue to be a problem as we get toward the end of the year, especially for airlines like Southwest and American, where the pilots’ unions have been irritated over vaccine mandates by the airlines.”

The cost of airline tickets is expected to continue going up.

And although Delta Air Lines posted a $1.2 billion profit for the third quarter, the airline warned that rising fuel prices and higher labor costs could mean higher fares.

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Airlines are scrambling to fill thousands of jobs due to employees leaving during the pandemic

“Normally we say wait and see what might happen to prices but with fuel costs going up and shortages of pilots, crew, flight attendants and seats — because, remember, not all airlines are fully back up to pre-pandemic capacity — we’re saying that you should book right now,” Henderson said.

If you have any unused airline miles now is the time to use them, especially if your flight gets canceled you will still be able to rebook using miles without losing any money.



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Book your flights now, travel consultants say


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– When walking through the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, you could tell that travelers are stressed and tired. Some of them had multiple delays and had to stay overnight in some areas before making it to their destination.

There are many ways you can prepare for travel during these unknown times.

Starting your vacation at an airport can save you a lot of time, but it can also be stressful.

“Get there on time. Get there early,” said Tony Depaolo, traveler. “Get there as early as you can and travel as light as you can. That was one of the issues that we ran into with some much baggage that we had to with planes getting derailed and things like that it was making sure that our bags got to where they were supposed to go.”

In addition to arriving at the airport early, you should also buy your tickets early.

“The days of filling that last minute seat is gone, most airlines will overbook their flights 10-percent or more, so typically they don’t have those last minute seats that they need to fill up,” said Lourie Buus, travel consultant.

Travelers are feeling the effects of short-staffed airlines.

“We had to wait at gates a lot for our crew to show up, for the pilot and staff to show up, so there was delays there,” said Depaolo. “And then at the airport there were lots of places that were closed, places that we couldn’t go to, places that we couldn’t eat, things like that because there was staff that wasn’t there.”

As we get closer to the holidays, the prices of tickets are starting to rise.

“In terms of Thanksgiving and Christmas, the flights are getting quite full. So as the flights fill up, your rates also go up.” said Buus. “So it’s more than just what’s dictating the prices such as you know fuel oil, its also supply and demand.”

“I mean everything is going up in price and so its just kind of again, the world we’re living in you know so the prices of things are going up and we are just doing what we can to adjust,” said Depaolo.

Christmas is the most booked travel time right now, so it’s important that if you are planning to travel then, you book your flights now.



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Study Offers Peek into ‘New Rule Book’ for Corporate M&E


While the return of in-person corporate meetings and events continues to gather steam, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to shape companies’ priorities and policies around such interactions, according to a new study from AOK Events. 

The London-based corporate events organizer in August and September 2021 conducted a survey of its clients whose yearly buying power for events exceeded £50 million. The results indicated what AOK called a “new rule book” for the events sector due to the “probability that there will be no return to pre-pandemic business-as-usual.”

Among the biggest changes in the new paradigm is a shift in companies’ main objectives when it comes to their events strategy and budgeting. The survey asked respondents to indicate the three main objectives for their events spend in summer 2019 and the present time up through the end of 2021 to compare how those aims have changed since the pandemic.

For external events, objectives such as supporting a new product or service launches and engaging with media and supplier partners have surged in importance, rising 33 percent and 48 percent, respectively. Conversely, entertaining clients declined by 11 percent, largely due to the need for such entertainment to be accomplished in-person. 

For internal events, the pandemic has forced companies to conduct a balancing act of ensuring the health and safety of their employees while continuing to conduct business. Amid those competing priorities, teambuilding and maintaining company culture skyrocketed as a priority, increasing by 38 percent from 2019 to 2021. 

As to the road ahead, survey responses indicated that companies are preparing to ramp back up budgets for external events sooners that internal events, with 80 percent of respondents projecting their external events budget would increase in 2022 and beyond, compared with 68 percent projecting their internal events budget to rise during the same timeframe. 

That contrast indicates a re-emerging demand for event-based client entertainment over the near term, particularly related to Christmas-related events, along with the likelihood that internal events will continue to operate on a largely virtual or hybrid basis for the long term, AOK said.



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Travel experts: Book holiday flights before the end of October


CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) — Some of the biggest holidays for travel are just around the corner, and while last year the airports were nearly empty, this year is looking like a different story.

Bookings for the Thanksgiving holiday are up 35 percent from 2019, but it comes as the travel industry still feels the impacts of COVID-19.

This holiday season a faraway destination seems to be on the wishlist for many. United Airlines plans to offer 3,500 flights a day during the month of December, to respond to a 16 percent increase in holiday travel searches, compared to 2019.

“The number of folks who are excited to get out on an airplane right now and for the holidays is really rebounding quickly,” Scott Keyes, Founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights said.

However, reaching the dream vacation is going to cost you. Herb Knight regularly flies out of Bradley International for work. He said prices for things like rental cars for example have jolted.

“The car I rented just a few weeks ago was $110 a day for three days and then my business partner had to extend it a day and that was an extra $250,” Knight said.

Travel experts said you should book your trips before Halloween, or those prices could get even higher. The travel site Hopper estimates the price could go up 40 percent then. And for the last-minute bookers, it could be another 25 percent on top of that.

“I think we’re gonna see fuller flights, as we move forward in the holiday season and I would expect the availability of cheap flights for this holiday season to really start to dissipate quickly,” Keyes said.

As for COVID precautions, travelers are required to wear a mask when they’re in the airport or on the plane. Vaccines are not required to fly domestically, but a bill was filed at the end of last month in the Senate that could put that requirement in place, or proof of a recent negative COVID test.



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It’s Almost Too Late To Book Holiday Travel. Here’s Where One Expert Recommends Going


You’re vaccinated, Delta’s on the downswing, and you’re finally contemplating that holiday trip with friends. You launch Kayak and search five-star hotels in Cabo San Lucas only to turn up wildly priced leftovers. Oops.

According to travel expert Cynika Drake, many key destinations for American travelers booked up weeks and even months ago. Drake, president of Lavish Lifestyles Concierge, a global travel and event planning company based in NYC, suggests booking your hotel or villa for the “festive season,” the period covering Christmas and New Year’s Eve, immediately.

Offering an example, Drake recently helped a client search for a villa in Turks & Caicos. “It’s 99% booked” she says. “I even checked with 4-star and 5-star hotels. There was one 3-star hotel left and that would not work for my clients” she said. Ultimately, Drake found two villas due to last minute cancellations since Turks & Caicos changed its entry-requirements to allow only fully vaccinated visitors.

“Those went fast. Turks & Caicos is currently one of the hottest markets and there are only so many villas and hotels on the island” she said.

The holiday period has long been notoriously difficult and expensive to book, even when planning a year in advance. Some consumers assumed, wrongly, that the pandemic would have dampened travel, but it’s having the opposite effect.

“This year, we’ve seen festive season travel practically double compared to last year. People are eager to travel after been stuck inside and many people rescheduled their vacations for this winter. So, you have people that don’t typically travel choosing to travel this holiday season combined with those rolling over their vacations to this winter. Now, time is of the essence, especially in popular markets such as the Caribbean and Mexico.”

Drake recommends four places, ranked by price, for those without plans to consider.

  1. St. Barths 
  2. Antigua 
  3. Sint Maarten 
  4. Mexico 

Saint Barthélemy or St. Barts, has a certain je ne sais quoi, says Drake, which is why it remains one of her favorite vacation destinations. She highlights the islands abundant beaches, including remote Saline beach which allows for social distancing. “Often, you’ll be the only person there” she says. For clients who love to explore, she recommends renting a car to drive around the 11-mile island and stop at beachfront restaurants. “You can literally drive the entire island in 30 mins” she says.

St. Barths is a popular winter destination, but Drake believes the slew of last-minute cancellations she’s witnessed, will allow the persistent traveler to nab a villa or hotel room. Keeping track of cancellations is a service professional travel agents like Drake will handle.

Drake’s tip: “be prepared to put down 50%, which in many cases will be $30k or more for St. Bart’s during festive season. During this timeframe, villa rentals typically have a 14-night minimum though some allow 10 nights.”

Antigua is next on Drake’s list, notably because of its selection of boutique all-inclusive 5-star hotels. She recommends this Leeward island with remnants of its British colonial past, to clients who are looking for a luxurious experience and want to be around other people, not just their travel partner or family. Antigua boasts some of the nicest beachfront villas she’s toured; plus, visitors can spend a day visiting nearby Barbuda.

Drake’s tip: You need a car or daily driver on Antigua, unless you stay on the property for the duration of your trip. Book a rental car the minute you book your lodging.”

St Maarten offers more budget-friendly villas and hotels. Depending on where you stay, walking to various places is possible, especially on Dawn Beach. Drake appreciates that island has both a Dutch side (Sint Maarten, in the south) and a French side (Saint Martin, in the north) to explore. That means French wines, cheeses, and foie gras can be found when exploring the beaches, towns and coastline of the north.

Drake’s tip: “the water is calmer on the Dutch side, whereas the French side is great for kite surfers. 

Mexico is one of Drake’s favorite destinations because Mexico lends itself to many different vibes, from all-inclusive luxury to bohemian chic. Drake’s favorite places in Mexico include Playa Del Carmen & Puerto Aventuras for beachfront villas. Tulum for bohemian chic resorts. Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta for those on the west coast seeking high-end accommodations and a short flight. For those appreciative of beautiful Spanish architecture and an arts scene, San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City are top choices.

Drake’s tip: “Your best bet for accommodations over the holidays is Mexico. It’s a larger market than the Caribbean and has far more hotels and villas.”

Given the challenges of booking during the festive season, one should consider managing their trip through a travel agent or adviser. For example, when last minute cancellations occur, the management company contacts to those on the waitlist, and it can become a bidding war. In other words, whomever can wire the money the fastest gets to book the villa. An adviser will stay on such situations for their clients.

As Drake explains, agents have relationships with villas and hotels, and as a result, receive insider information as to what’s available or what will be coming on the market from villas to hotel suites.

An agent also stays abreast of the evolving travel requirements during the pandemic.

Additionally, as Drake puts it, “who wants to spend hours researching hotels and villas? Negotiating rates and thinking of itineraries? We do! As travel advisors, we live for that!”

“Save yourself time, money and the headache of traveling planning and let a professional do the job for you. Let figuring out what to pack, be your hardest challenge of the day” she says.

Contact Drake through her website Lavishlifestylesla.com; follow her journeys on Instagram at Lavishlifestyleconcierge.





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5 reasons you should book holiday travel now




CNN
—  

The coronavirus pandemic has been a part of our world for over a year, and during that time, we’ve had to adjust the way we go about our daily lives — from dining out with friends to seeing family and traveling for vacation. Even now, with vaccines readily available, many rules about traveling internationally change weekly and some people remain unsure about safety when flying.

However, with the holiday season coming up and restrictions on international visitors to the US being lifted soon, demand is expected to pick up again, so now may be the time to start looking at your travel plans for the November and December holidays. Regardless of whether you’re planning to go abroad or just across the country, here are five reasons you may want to get to booking your flights now.

There aren’t many silver linings to the pandemic cloud we’ve been living under, but one of the few bits of good news is that the major US airlines — American, Delta and United — have dropped their change fees on most domestic tickets and international itineraries departing from North America.

The one exception is basic economy fares, and even many of those can be changed without a fee if you purchase your tickets before the end of the year — specifically, Dec. 31 for Delta and United. American, however, is not allowing newly purchased basic economy tickets to be changed without a fee. That means even if you generally book the cheapest fares with Delta and United, you can safely book holiday travel and then change it later if it becomes necessary.

(Also, let’s give credit here to Southwest, which has never had basic economy or change fees in the first place. If you’re looking for a passenger-friendly airline, Southwest continues to have some of the best policies of all the US carriers, including easy-to-change tickets and free checked bags.)

Now, that doesn’t mean all airline tickets are suddenly refundable. There’s a big difference between “changeable” and “refundable.” Basically, the new policies mean you can change your ticket before departure and not have to pay an extra fee. But unless you specifically pay more for a refundable flight, you still can’t get your money back on most tickets unless there’s a cancellation by the airline itself.

And while there are no longer fees for changing your flight, you’ll still have to pay any difference between the original fare you bought and the price of the new ticket if it’s more. Conversely, if the price of your new flight is lower, both American and Delta will give you a credit for the difference. (United just pockets it, so keep that policy in mind when you’re choosing an airline.)

Still, the new rules offer a lot more flexibility and make it more attractive to go ahead and book since there’s no risk of losing your money if you can’t end up traveling for the holidays. It also means it’s worth locking down a great deal for the future if you find one. Speaking of which…

After a major increase in travel over the summer, demand ratcheted back down in the fall, so airlines are eager to get people back to booking travel again. And even if you may not be ready to jump on a plane right this moment, you can take advantage of deals now for trips in the future — especially around the holiday season.

What kinds of deals can you get? Well, just as an example, as of this writing, New Yorkers can get themselves to Los Angeles for just $171 round trip around the Thanksgiving holiday. And for those on the West Coast looking for a getaway to Hawaii, there are nonstop flights around the December holidays from both Los Angeles and San Francisco to destinations in the Hawaiian islands from $318 round trip with Alaska Airlines.

Head to Maui on a cheap airfare and hike the Waihe'e Ridge Trail this summer.

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Head to Maui on a cheap airfare and hike the Waihe’e Ridge Trail this summer.

With a number of international borders now reopen and several countries welcoming fully vaccinated Americans, you could even consider a trip abroad. The United Kingdom no longer requires a quarantine or a pre-departure Covid-19 test for fully vaccinated Americans — though you will need to prebook and take a Covid-19 test within the first two days of arrival. Right now we’re also seeing round-trip fares from New York to London in December from $590 with JetBlue.

Alternatively, many destinations in the Caribbean have been long open to Americans. As of this writing, we’re seeing round-trip flights from Miami to Montego Bay, Jamaica, for $214 with American over the Thanksgiving holiday.

To find cheap airfares, use either Google Flights or an online travel agency to search for trips, or sign up for notifications from a deal site such as The Flight Deal, Scott’s Cheap Flights or Thrifty Traveler. Or try a data-driven app like Hopper to find the ideal time to book.

And if you’ve been sitting on a stack of frequent flyer miles, now could be the time to use them. While award availability is generally more open than it has been in years as airlines try to fill seats, you may have more trouble finding availability around the holidays. Before committing to buying a ticket outright using cash, we recommend checking to see if you can find availability to use those points and miles. Put aside some time to search the airline’s website and see what sorts of mileage deals appear.

Related: Here’s why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is our favorite travel credit card for beginners.

On Sept. 20, the US announced that for the first time since March 2020, noncitizens coming from Europe, the UK, Ireland, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and India will be allowed to enter the country. International passengers must be fully vaccinated in order to gain entry to the US, but the decision marks a major step forward in the reopening of the US to tourism.

The anticipated pent-up demand from noncitizens who haven’t been able to enter the US since before the pandemic began to see family, to see friends or to vacation in the country is already being felt. Virgin Atlantic reported a 600% increase in bookings to the US after the announcement, with the biggest jump coming from travel to New York.

New York City is likely to be a popular destination for foreign visitors during the holidays this year.

andykazie/iStock Editorial/Getty Images

New York City is likely to be a popular destination for foreign visitors during the holidays this year.

As demand from these travelers increases, great airfares and award availability are likely to taper off around the holiday season. That doesn’t mean deals will completely disappear — industry leaders are projecting that business travel, which is the most lucrative part of the market for airlines, won’t fully return for several years. But planes are likely to be more full than they are right now.

Related: Should I travel? Expert advice on what to consider.

Even with changeable flights, there may still be some aspects of a trip that are difficult or impossible to change, and you don’t want to lose money if you get sick and can’t travel.

You could buy a travel insurance policy to cover you in case the worst happens, but they can be expensive, and not all of them will cover claims related to the pandemic. Fortunately, a cheaper and better way to protect yourself might already be in your purse or wallet: your credit card.

Many travel credit cards include various forms of travel protection, such as trip cancellation and interruption coverage, travel accident insurance, emergency evacuation coverage and more. While these protections generally don’t cover you if you voluntarily cancel your trip due to the pandemic, they often do cover you if you personally get sick from the coronavirus or can’t travel due to unexpected restrictions put in place by a governmental authority.

You may already be eligible for various forms of travel insurance by using the credit cards in your purse or wallet.

iStock

You may already be eligible for various forms of travel insurance by using the credit cards in your purse or wallet.

Every credit card offers different levels of coverage, and some don’t have any travel protections at all, so it’s important to check the fine print before you book your trip with a specific credit card to know exactly what you’re being protected against. But if you want to be sure that your travel investment is safe, choose the right credit card to book your travel home for the holidays.

Related: Read CNN Underscored’s guide to the best credit cards with travel insurance protections.

It’s been another tough year, and many people still haven’t seen their families in a long time. As the holiday season approaches — and it will be here before we know it — this could prove to be the perfect opportunity to return home or head away on a vacation.

By booking yourself a trip now, you’ll have something to look forward to between now and then. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health, and the idea of an upcoming trip may help get you through the slog.

After the last year, everyone could use a vacation.

iStock

After the last year, everyone could use a vacation.

And even with all of the above in mind, if you just don’t feel comfortable booking future travel at the moment, don’t feel bad about that either. Many people don’t have a flexible enough family or work schedule to allow themselves to book speculative travel with so many unknowns still out there.

If that’s you, there’s one other thing you can do while waiting for travel to resume: earn extra travel rewards on your credit card. Many cards are offering record-high sign-up bonuses to new card holders, including up to 90,000 bonus miles on Delta credit cards and up to 150,000 bonus points on Hilton credit cards.

Those bonuses alone can be enough to book a trip when the world is finally more stable. Plus, you can use a credit card to earn rewards on the everyday things you buy while you’re stuck at home.

So, if you aren’t ready to book holiday travel yet but want to make sure you have enough frequent flyer points or miles to go somewhere great when you finally can, check out our list of the best travel credit cards and see if one of them might be a good fit for you.

Looking for a new credit card? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards of 2021.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.



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