Winter Travel: Here and Abroad 

2022 has been the year many travelers took flight again. Pandemic restrictions have eased, and pent-up desire to explore and see loved ones has unleashed a flood of travelers into the air. As travelers plan for the holidays, many are asking if they will face the same long lines and cancellations of the summer.  

Experts like Phil Dengler, founder of The Vacationer, a travel research website, say it might not be as bad as the summer, but it will still be rough.  

“There still are going to be cancellations and delays because demand is just higher than the supply right now,” Dengler said, in an interview with Business Insider 

Business Insider also reported that most major airlines have announced schedule cuts for the holiday season so staff will not be stretched thin. This means fewer flights; yet, the number of travelers is still expected to surge.  

Other outlets indicate holiday travel is going to be expensive.  

According to research by Hopper, a travel app, more than half of Americans plan to travel for over the winter holidays. With low supply and high demand, airfare is going up: 22% higher than in 2019 and 43% higher than in 2021.  

Here are some tips for how to make the most of this tricky travel season.  

  1. Book in advance. As a general rule, The Vacationer recommends booking domestic flights one to three months in advance but even earlier for the holidays. For Thanksgiving, book before Halloween. For Christmas, book before Thanksgiving.  
  2. Travel on the right days. Research by Hopper revealed that travelers could save up to $300 by purchasing a few days before the holiday and a few days after.  “For [holidays], flying the Monday prior to [the celebration] and returning any weekday of the following week will save you the most. Similarly, departing the Monday or Tuesday before Christmas weekend and returning the Monday through Wednesday of the following week will get you the most bang for your buck.” – Hopper research. 
  3. Travel at the right times. Book early morning, non-stop travel to get out ahead of flight delays, said Dengler to Business Insider.  
  4. Book hotels late. For travel to big cities, Hopper recommends waiting until the last minute to book your hotel because hotels usually cut prices the month prior. However, if you’re going to a popular vacation spot, make sure you book your hotel a minimum of three weeks in advance.

International Winter Travel 

Recent world events have made this an especially unique time to travel internationally for the holidays. Take the United Kingdom, for example, where the pound has reached its lowest point in 37 years. It’s the cheapest it’s been for tourists to travel there in a very long time.  

According to a recent article from The Guardian, tour operators in the U.K. are “quietly calling [October 2022] their best month for bookings since October 2019 as US tourists take advantage of sterling’s tumble.”   

Between the pandemic and Brexit, the U.K. is looking to tourism to restore its economy.  

For outbound travelers from the U.K., it’s a different story.  

“For Britons considering heading west, the cumulative cost of their next holiday is likely to be significantly more than in 2019, when 4 million UK visitors went to the US,” The Guardian reported.  

But if they’re traveling within Europe, some places remain affordable.  

“The Eurozone is also in recession, and Turkey is cheap,” Ian Taylor, executive editor of the leading trade publisher Travel Weekly, said to The Guardian 

For travelers to and in Europe, here are some tips for making winter travel less painful: 

  1. Book in advance. Rick Steves suggests booking at least a month in advance for most winter travel, November through March. The holidays are an exception and require earlier booking.  
  2. Book through the right site. Steves uses Skyscanner to get the best deals with budget airlines within Europe, while Kayak is the best all around for flights to and within Europe.  
  3. Choose a less popular location. “If the prices in Dubrovnik are too high, go to Split. If Paris is too much, check out Nice, said Forbes senior contributor, Christopher Elliott, in his two-part Europe fall travel series (Part 1 and Part 2).” 
  4. Do your own cooking. If you’re looking to save money, Elliott cautioned that restaurants won’t decrease their prices in the off-season. So, booking a rental or lodging with a mini- or full kitchen so you can cook can help with expenses.  
  5. Use mass transit instead of renting a car. “It’s cheap and reliable in most European countries,” Elliott said.  
  6. Pack for the weather. Steves cautioned that Europe in winter can be “miserable—cold, windy and drizzly—and then turn worse.” So make sure you pack layers with rain gear to keep you comfortable.  
  7. Note shorter hours. Europe often shuts down earlier in the winter, especially in smaller towns, Steves said. So plan your trip accordingly, capitalizing on daylight hours while you have them and researching your activities in advance to make sure they’re still available in the off-season.

Other popular destinations during the winter season? Mexico and the Caribbean.

According to Melissa Newman, co-founder of Travel Like a Type A, a travel planning business, “winter travel to sunny places is trending back up.” 

She also recommends early booking to get those cost savings.  

“Resorts are offering booking discounts if you book 150 plus days in advance,” she said. “They are capitalizing on people booking early to get those discounted rates.”  

For those concerned about changes in plans, Newman adds that usually resorts have decent cancellation policies.  

Regardless of where you travel this winter, remember that there is no substitute for the peace of mind that comes with a Global Rescue membership. Life happens, even on your dream European holiday. And when it does, you will want our unmatched support. Our destination reports and travel alerts will keep you updated on COVID precautions and trip-disrupting events, our on-call doctors will be available to diagnose you via telemedicine if you become ill, and our emergency evacuation team can come to your rescue should a real crisis occur.