Summer is over and we’re officially in the travel shoulder season, so you might be wondering how to plan your fall and holiday trips.
Labor Day travel data is typically a good indicator of how busy the fall and holiday travel seasons will be. Overall, more people are getting on planes. Fewer than 4.2 million people passed through security on Labor Day weekend last year. This year, the TSA reported 9.2 million people shuffled through security checkpoints over the five-day Labor Day weekend.
So, what does all of this mean for planning fall and holiday trips? Here’s what you need to know.
EU travel just got harder for Americans
Last week’s announcement from the European Union removing the US from its safe travel list caused confusion and worry about fall and holiday travel planning. This week’s news that the UK’s ‘traffic light’ travel system could be scrapped by October is giving American travelers a case of travel whiplash.
In the meantime, some EU countries got busy modifying their entry requirements:
- The Netherlands now requires a 10-day quarantine for all US travelers (vaccinated or not)
- Italy added the negative COVID test requirement (previously vaccinated travelers did not need the test)
- Spain now requires either proof of full vaccination, a negative test, or proof of recovery from COVID (previously neither the test or vaccination were required)
- Denmark banned unvaccinated Americans over the weekend (previously those with a negative test or proof of recovery were allowed in)
Belgium’s rules took a weird turn. US travelers are added to their red list, which says travelers have a high risk of infection. At the same time it whitelisted the US, so non-essential travel to Belgium is still allowed.
Other EU countries made no changes at all. Perhaps they’re waiting for October? There is also the lingering question of which European countries will accept mixed vaccine doses.
Fall travel to Europe also just got cheaper
After a brief period of high travel demand, searches and bookings recently hit a plateau and started to fall, according to travel data company, Hopper. To keep travelers coming during the slower fall travel season, airfares are expected to drop below 2019 levels.
Tip: The latest news from the travel deals company, TravelZoo, appears to confirm this expectation.some roundtrip flights between the US and Europe now cost less than $300 (basic economy).
Perhaps it’s time to consider train travel
Long haul flights are endurance events that are hard on the body. If you’re not currently a fan, or just tired of trying to figure out the rules, it may be time to look at trains instead.
America has never had the luxury of lots of trains, lagging far behind Europe and Asia in routes and speed. Then came COVID, and more travelers than ever shifted their travel plans to trains where they can skip the dreaded middle seat and backed up security lines. A recent article schowcased the stories of US tourists who only travel by train.
Last spring, Amtrak’s ridership was up 86% over the same period in 2020 and it’s now reporting 65% of pre-pandemic ridership levels. Amtrak is also investing in high-frequency and long distance routes as part of a 3-year, $28 million refurbishment project that includes upscaling food and beverages, seating, lounges, and business centers to luxury levels.
Tip: The latest from Amtrak shows they’re willing to compete with the airlines by offering new travel packages for visiting coastal cities and national parks.
Other interesting news
Can we get a global set of COVID rules already? Cries across the globe continue for a common set of rules recognizing vaccines and removing the need to quarantine travelers.
More arrests in Hawaii – Police on Maui island arrested a Rhode Island visitor for violating the state’s safe travel rules.
Solo travel for women – Take a look at the latest recommendations for women traveling on their own from AARP.
Caribbean resorts get creative – Luring travelers with offers of free travel insurance.
Can you really save by booking hotels last-minute? According to the travel nerd at Nerd Wallet, you can! By as much as 13-22%