(Family Features) Whether your family counts a holiday vacation among your treasured traditions or you're anticipating a holiday getaway for the first time, getting an early start on your planning can help ensure your trip is filled with good tidings and joy.
Know what you want to spend. If you're planning to open your wallet a little wider for this trip than you have in the past, you're not alone. A survey by American Express Travel found more than 60% of travelers are planning to spend more on trips in 2021 since they missed out on travel in 2020. Setting your budget now can help you make choices about things like accommodations and activities while giving you some extra time to save. Working off a budget from the start can also help you take advantage of book now, pay later options that may give you added savings or incentives.
Be conscious of high-demand destinations. Popular travel spots tend to fill up fast, so if you're considering visiting a high-demand location, be aware of how crowds might affect your plans for everything from wait times at attractions to rental cars and more. According to vacation rental company Vrbo, prime warm-weather destinations where families can spend the holidays together are already facing lower availability for homes, including Florida and Hawaii beaches. Similarly, Maui, Hawaii, has less than 20% of homes available during Christmas week. Ski spots also see a large share of holiday travel, so be prepared if you're planning on a holiday hot spot.
Manage against the unexpected. Despite all the advantages of planning ahead, it's impossible to predict unknown variables like the weather when you make travel arrangements months ahead of time. Travel insurance can help protect the majority your investment if you have to cancel your trip. Some policies offer coverage for cancellation for any reason, so you'll want to research exactly what your policy allows, including weather and pandemic-related cancellations.
Book lodging early. With travel volume up and availability for accommodations already trending downward for the holiday season, consider making reservations sooner than later.
"We typically see December bookings peak in October and November, but families are locking in their holiday vacation plans much earlier than usual," said Melanie Fish, Vrbo's travel expert. "Vacation homes have been quickly scooped up during every popular travel season this year, so it's no surprise families are planning ahead to ensure they have a great place to spend the holidays together."
Look into local events. In this pandemic age, many attractions and activities have new guidelines, including altered operating schedules, occupancy limits and reservation systems. You can typically find the latest information on websites or by calling ahead. Take these measures into consideration as you're creating your trip itinerary and organizing advanced reservations.
Consider how the holidays will affect your packing. Traveling during the holidays may mean a different approach to your typical vacation packing. Especially if you're traveling with children, you'll need to make space for beloved holiday traditions such as gifts or a visit from a certain jolly old elf.
For more inspiration for your holiday getaway, visit Vrbo.com.