Christmas vacation trips from travel industry insiders
Traveling on holiday isn’t something to be taken lightly, even if there’s a pandemic.
This month is expected to see millions of people travel, and there are threats from volatile weather as well as the omicron variant. These factors will further strain those who want to end Year 2.
CNBC Travel asked the following question to industry professionals: How can travelers be prepared for December?
Plan for the entire trip’s arc. Consider a trip as a story, with an end and beginning. Plan to stay in the best hotels by the end so that you end your trip on a high note. Plan for smooth entry and exit. Perhaps it is arranging private transportation after long flights so that you are not stuck in the public transport system. No matter how a solid arc appears to you, it’s important that you plan your trip in advance.
—Sarah Groen was the founder and CEO of Luxury Travel Company. Bell & Bly Travel Design
“If you’re planning to do some Greek island-hopping, keep in mind that Greeks themselves tend to stick to one island instead of cramming as many as they can into a single trip. Think thematically: Santorini has stunning scenery, but beaches are better in Mykonos … [but]Tinos and Syros offer great cuisine and culture, with much lower hotel rates than Mykonos. Crete offers a lot of options, but it is important to have a car.
—Anthony Grant, American writerBased in Greece
Avoid the crowded morning flight, as these are more affordable. To reduce delays or missed connections due to weather cancellations, avoid taking the final flight of each day. … Opt for carry-on luggage on your next trip. This will allow you to skip the lines and save time waiting for your luggage once you get there.
—Anna Brown, public relations manager at Expedia U.S.
You should always have a spare set of clothes with you. You should be prepared for anything. … With airline shortages and increased travel, there’s a higher-than-average chance your luggage will be lost. Do not take your gift with you. … Send presents to your final address.
—Mark Hoenig, co-founder of digital travel company VIP Traveler
VIP Traveler’s Mark Hoenig advises that you avoid connecting flights. Even if this means parking and driving at another airport. Each additional airport will increase the chances of baggage loss, delays and cancellations.
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“Buy your tickets ASAP. Due to Covid worries, people tend to delay their international travel plans. Domestic flights are more popular and often more costly. Wrap gifts securely so that they can be checked at security.
—Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of travel insurance marketplace VisitorsCoverage.com
Look for vacation rentals that have flexible cancellation policies so that you don’t need to cancel your reservation at any time.
Vered Schwarz, Guesty’s Chief Operating Officer, recommends that people who plan to travel longer periods of time look for large closets, washers, dryers, and work spaces with good lighting, ergonomic chairs and fast Wi-Fi.
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Short-term hospitality brands can be found on the major booking channels, but they also have their own booking sites. A discounted rate is often offered when you book directly with the company. And, many of these … provide co-working spacesAnd digital concierge services. … Examples of such brands include Casita, D Alexander and Sentral.”
—Vered Schwarz, COO of vacation home rental software firm Guesty
Traveling pre-Christmas is easy if you travel with your friend and family ‘travel pod.’ This group includes those who will be celebrating the holiday. If you have to be quarantined once you return home, it will not affect your holiday plans.
—Matt Berna, managing director of North America for travel company Intrepid Travel
Stephen Kissler, a Harvard researcher recommends that holiday gatherings be kept small and take a quick Covid test right before they happen.
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It is very important to maintain adequate ventilation. This is one aspect that I believe should not be ignored or undervalued. With holiday gatherings coming up, I certainly plan, no matter how cold it is outside, I’m going to have my windows cracked by four to six inches… [and]Testing should be done immediately prior to gathering. Ideally, it is an hour before or the morning of.
—Stephen Kissler, research fellow at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, in an online discussion on Dec. 9Elana Gordon, “The World”, public radio show
“A lot of the best hotels block online reservations for the peak ‘festive’ season… and manage it directly via their human team. Ask your travel agent for assistance, as they may have the connections to achieve the impossible even when all seems sold out.“
— Henley Vazquez, co-founder of travel company Fora
Locally owned and independent boutique hotels need more love than ever because they aren’t able to access large sums of funding. This is why you should consider giving back to your destination by visiting these places, as well as supporting local business operators.
—Brandon Berkson, founder of travel company Hotels Above Par
“Plan some downtime for your babies and toddlers during your holiday travels… children don’t always do well when they are constantly on the go. Schedule some downtime each day for your children to sit and relax, play with their toys, or engage with them.
BabyQuip CEO Fran Maier advises that children travel with the same sleeping routine as their babies. Don’t force your child to use a pack ‘n play if they are used to sleeping in a crib.
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Kids need regular breaks and organized activities so they can let their imaginations run wild. You should ensure that you have enough toys for children when you’re cooking, talking to adults or just when your kids need to be alone.
—Fran Maier, CEO of baby equipment rental company BabyQuip
Contactless pick-up is a feature that many car rental companies provide. This allows you to simply walk on the lot and get in your car. Expedia’s “Skip the counter” filter will allow you to quickly find such options without having to wait in line.
—Anna Brown, public relations manager at Expedia U.S.
“When reserving a rental car, book a ‘pay later’ rate… which gives you the flexibility to cancel and re-book if a better deal comes along. Rental rates can change multiple times per day. AutoSlash constantly monitors rental prices and will let you know when they have found a cheaper price.
—Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of rental car price tracking company AutoSlash