As we get a taste of summer, it is hard not to daydream about summer vacations. The problem is: it is difficult to plan with all the uncertainty in the world. What will vacations look like this summer and where are opportunities to save money? Here are some thoughts.
Save Money on Flights
Pretty much anywhere you look right now you will be able to find great deals on flights. The entire airline industry is in free fall. According to a recent article from the Dollar Flight Club, your average savings on domestic flights is 35% of what it was before the global pandemic. If you are looking to cash in on a great deal, make sure you know the cancellation and refund policy for the airline you’re using and whether it’s waiving change fees.
Also, note that Hawaii, Montana, Texas and several international destinations have implemented mandatory quarantine periods for travelers coming from out of state, some up to 14 days. That long of a quarantine period could quickly make your trip not worth it.
With flights come safety concerns. While many airlines have instituted new policies designed to decrease risk including air filtration policies, mandatory empty seats between passengers, and sanitization, it is still very difficult not to be closer than 6 feet from other passengers and share the same air.
Saving Money on Gas
Gas prices are hovering around $2 a gallon. This is remarkable, considering that gas prices typically climb around this time of the year. These incredibly low gas prices are a result of international production levels and decrease in demand due to people sheltering in place. Global production has started to be cut by the major players and shelter in place orders are beginning to relax so gas prices will soon rise. Still, you will see a remnant of lower oil prices for a period of time, which could save you money at the pump if you decide to do a road trip this summer.
Save Money on Stays
There is devastation in the travel industry with many of the major players announcing job cuts including Airbnb, Hyatt Hotels, and others. Travel related companies will be looking to recover from their losses as quickly as possible, which will undoubtedly mean great deals for those willing to venture out.
Keep an eye out for promotional deals at hotels and online booking sites as they attempt to recover financially. Make sure to look at Kayak, Expedia, and Priceline to find the best hotel deals and, after you know the advertised prices, do not be afraid to call the hotel to negotiate a better deal.
Save From Businesses Needing to Recover Losses from Economic Slowdown
Businesses who have been affected by the coronavirus will be desperate to ramp up sales. These businesses include non-grocery shops, most restaurants, and bars. When traveling, look at deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, the company website, and their social media sites, to see if they’ve posted any offers.
Where Can You Go?
International travel is highly discouraged with many countries instituting mandatory quarantine periods for travelers. Your best bet is to travel domestically but, if you are traveling out of state, research thoroughly any travel restrictions that state may have. It is most likely that this summer vacation season will see Americans taking mostly domestic flights or road tripping to smaller, more rural destinations.
Washington State campgrounds are not taking any reservations until Phase II of the Governor’s reopening plan, which is estimated to take place around June 1.
Is it Safe to Travel?
Airbnb has updated its cleaning requirements for hosts who opt to participate in its Enhanced Cleaning Initiative, including a minimum of 24 hours between rentals to reduce the chance that guests might encounter any residual viruses.
Hotel chains are also stepping up their efforts to make guests feel more secure. Marriott recently announced programs designed to keep its hotels virus-free, including the use of electrostatic sprayers (which disperse very fine, electrically charged particles that aggressively adhere to surfaces) with hospital-grade disinfectants.
While hotels, airlines and restaurants are doing everything they can to reassure travelers, traveling at this time comes with risks that will need to be assessed by everyone.