The holiday season can be a stressful time for those planning to travel. Between costs, short staffing, and limited bookings, a Virginia Tech travel and tourism expert says to plan ahead.
“With the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays coming soon, the best travel planning should start now, if not earlier,” says Mahmood Khan, professor and director in the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Virginia Tech. “Planning ahead of holiday travel solves many problems encountered by holiday travelers.”
Due to the lack of flights and personnel, Khan says things are still slow in almost every segment of the travel industry from hotels to restaurants, requiring that advanced planning.
“Even rental cars are hard to find since many rental companies have sold their fleet due to slow traffic during the pandemic,” he explains. “Hotel reservations are also a problem since many skilled workers were furloughed, laid off, or moved to another location. Airbnb is an option that can help in reducing lodging costs, but still requires careful planning.”
“When it comes to picking a destination, one of the more noticeable trends after COVID-19 among holiday travelers is the desire to select eco-friendly destinations,” says Khan. “There are plenty of these destinations in the U.S. and beyond.”
Khan recommends the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia which have plenty of locations that provide hiking and natural surroundings. “Indigenous international destinations such as Namibia Iceland or Andaman and Nicobar Islands, offer plenty of scenic locations where one can experience plant and animal life, and provide a lifetime experience.”
For international travel, Khan says it is important to double-check if your passport or visa is still valid. “Getting new passports or renewing them is time-consuming and takes at least a month, so consider that in your planning. Due to the pandemic, many travelers need to relearn travel procedures such as customs checks, seat assignments, or reservations.”
As you prepare to take off, it’s important to note that unruly traveler incidences have increased after the pandemic. To avoid frustration Khan says to pack your patience. “With unexpected delays and cancellations, it is easy for people to lose their patience. Enjoying yourself will help work through holiday travels, especially those traveling with young children.”