Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and that’s welcome news to people who can’t wait to celebrate the holiday season with their loved ones. Though millions of people stayed home for Thanksgiving in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rising vaccination rates suggest the holiday travel season will be back in full swing this November.
Uncertainty spurred by the Delta variant may compel some people to stay home or delay making holiday travel plans. However, a recent survey from the vacation rental site Evolve found that 32 percent of travelers were not factoring the Delta variant into their travel plans at all. In addition, just under 47 percent of the more than 5,000 travelers surveyed months in advance of the holiday season indicated they would not consider canceling their trips until much closer to their departures. That data points to what could be a very unpredictable and busy holiday travel season.
With that unpredictability in mind, prospective travelers can consider these tips as they make plans to travel this Thanksgiving.
• Recognize the travel timeline might be different. The successful rollout of three COVID-19 vaccines has allowed life to return to some semblance of normalcy, but millions of professionals are still working from home full-time. Remote working has afforded people more flexibility in regard to when they can travel this Thanksgiving. The online travel and bookings experts at Priceline reported in September that the busiest travel day for Thanksgiving at that point was Monday, November 15. That’s a week and a half prior to Thanksgiving. A return to in person learning may limit families’ ability to travel so early, but travelers who can work remotely and don’t have to take school into consideration should recognize that the travel timeline has changed. That could make booking early flights more difficult and expensive than it used to be.
• Pack light. Travelers who intend to fly this Thanksgiving may want to avoid checking any luggage. Baggage fees can be expensive, but many airlines also have been forced to confront new issues that hadn’t been a problem in the past. For example, in June American Airlines was forced to cancel hundreds of flights due to pandemic-related staffing shortages. Staffing shortages can lead to confusion and last-minute cancellations, which may increase the likelihood that travelers’ luggage is lost or temporarily misplaced. By packing just a carry-on bag, travelers can ensure they have everything they need when they arrive at their destination.
• Check the weather forecast. Extreme weather has become the norm as the effects of climate change continue to become more apparent. Late November has not traditionally been a stormy season in many parts of North America, but it’s still important that travelers stay abreast of the weather forecasts on and around Thanksgiving. Knowledge of the forecast may spur travelers who are driving to change their travel dates so they aren’t caught in storms. Those who intend to fly may not have such flexibility, but it still pays to know the forecast. If a storm is coming, air travelers can give themselves extra time to get to the airport or even book rooms at airport hotels so they won’t have to drive to the airport during a storm.
The 2021 Thanksgiving weekend figures to be both busy and unique.