What, if any, availability is there for U.S. travelers during the winter holidays?
Since fewer destinations are open and occupancy limits are still in place in many locations, we are seeing limited availability in some of our favorite spots in the U.S. and the Caribbean already. It’s still not totally booked yet and new destinations are reopening on a daily basis. Please contact us for additional information.
What’s happening at U.S. ski resorts?
Skiing may feel a little different this season. Ski resorts are implementing new safety protocols to protect skiiers including enforcing social distancing on chair lifts and gondolas, limiting the size of group lessons, restricting the number of people at resort full-serve restaurants, and, most importantly, limiting the number of skiiers on the mountain. For instance, Vail Resorts, which includes Vail, Park City, Beaver Creek, Stowe, Whistler, among other resorts across the country will no longer sell lift tickets at the actual resorts; tickets will be managed entirely through a reservations system that will limit the number of lift tickets and prioritize season pass holders. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort also has a maximum daily capacity for guests and will also employ an online reservation system to limit the number of tickets available for purchase each day, however, tickets will also be available in person the day of if space allows. At this time, Aspen Mountain and Snowmass are not requiring online reservations, however, that may change depending on infection rates. Please contact us for additional information about availability at ski resorts for this season.
Are airlines and hotels being more flexible in their change or cancellation policies? What about minimum-stay requirements?
We are seeing more flexibility on some policies from many of our partners, including hotels and airlines, although changes continue to remain fluid. Many hotels now let you cancel up to 24 hours before arrival without penalty depending on your dates of travel. Major American Airlines such as American, Delta and United, continue to waive any change fees (although do keep in mind that a change in dates may still change the fare when rebooking and the airlines are offering credits for future travel, not full refunds absent insurance). Many hotels are still requiring minimum stays, especially during the holiday season. Contact us for more information. We would be happy to recommend hotels with flexible change and cancellation policies.
Houlahan Travel always recommends trip insurance. Even with more flexible policies regarding cancellation and changes it is always safer to protect your investment in your trip. Please remember, however, that most travel insurance policies will not cover “fear of travel,” meaning, you cannot simply cancel the trip if you are concerned that you may contract Covid-19 while you are traveling. Travel insurance, however, may protect you if you or your travel companion(s) become ill prior to traveling and cannot travel as planned.
There are still a few insurance companies are that offer Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) policies, which usually provide the most security (these policies tend to cover pandemics and border closings, which aren’t usually covered by other policies). Keep in mind that CFAR policies tend to be more expensive than traditional policies and do not cover 100% of the travel costs. We would be happy to refer you to companies that offer trip insurance for additional information regarding coverage.
Where can I go in the U.S. this fall and winter?
Across the U. S., many states have reopened borders and removed self-quarantine requirements. Some restrictions still remain in several states, however, and those restrictions are fluid and change based on Covid infections. Check out these locations in the Eastern and the Western U.S. or call us for suggestions.
Can I travel outside the U.S. this winter?
Many countries still prohibit U.S. passport holders from entering, however, that list of destinations has been expanding, albeit with some added requirements for entry. For example, the Caribbean is always a perfect winter escape and many of the islands are open to anyone with negative results from a PCR test taken within a few days before traveling. Ecuador, French Polynesia, Rwanda, and Mexico are just a few of the other countries available for winter with similar entry requirements, while some countries, such as Costa Rica, do require international insurance coverage as well. Please contact us for additional information about these destinations or other options.
As for those travelers who are contemplating flying into the UK or Croatia to quarantine before moving on to other European destinations, please note that U.S. passport holders are still forbidden from entering certain countries despite a quarantine in those countries. Most U.S. travelers may be turned away.
Please contact us regarding any travel questions you have about holiday travel. 847.868.4502 or firstname.lastname@example.org