AARP Eye Center
This holiday travel season is shaping up to be the busiest and most chaotic in some time as people return to the roads and skies in nearly full pre-pandemic force within a weakened travel infrastructure that has yet to revive enough to efficiently meet the demand.
Travel volume has rebounded over the past few months, with increased flight and hotel bookings. AAA is forecasting that 53 million Americans will be on the move Thanksgiving weekend, with 4.2 million traveling by air (closing in on the 4.6 million who flew Thanksgiving weekend in 2019, before COVID-19 hit). Meanwhile, the U.S. is welcoming rising numbers of visitors from other countries, now that it has reopened to international travelers. Misty Belles, managing director of global public relations at Virtuoso, says the travel company's international hotel reservations have increased 30 percent just over the past month.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
While not yet reaching 2019 levels, “travel is going to feel busier than normal," Belles predicts. "The majority of us have not been traveling regularly and haven’t faced many crowded situations over the past 18 to 24 months. That will make the upcoming peak travel period seem that much more hectic.”
Adding to the hectic feeling are staff shortages across the travel industry, more flight delays and cancellations, and confusing and changing COVID-19 travel rules.
But by doing some planning and research, applying a few tips and tricks, and bringing a huge helping of patience, you can reduce the holiday travel stress.
CDC Travel Guidance
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) advises against travel unless you are fully vaccinated. Those who are unvaccinated who intend to travel within the U.S. should get tested for COVID-19 one to three days before departure and three to five days after returning. They should stay home and self-quarantine for seven days after travel or 10 days if they don’t get tested upon returning from their trip.
The CDC still requires all travelers to wear face coverings on airplanes, buses and rail systems, as well as in airports and bus and train stations.
Tips for air travel
Avoid the hot spots. If your travel is for vacation, rather than to visit family, and you can be flexible, consider booking a trip to a less popular destination. You’ll skip many of the usual holiday-season hassles and probably save money, as well. (Hotel rates in New York City, for instance, can skyrocket during the holidays.)