Booking holiday travel? Here’s five top expert tips

Finally taking that holiday trip you’ve waited all year to enjoy? As the tourism industry continues its comeback, there are a few things you should consider.

Rachel J.C. Fu., chair and professor of the Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management and director of the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute at UF, provides us with valuable insight and helpful holiday travel tips.

1. Plan for higher prices.

With the increase in travel demand after the pandemic, the rise in gas prices as well as continuing inflation, many aspects of travel could be more expensive, from transportation and hotel stays to eating out. Planning accordingly could minimize stress during your vacation -- when you should be enjoying yourself.

2. Be mindful when booking.

In general, when booking holiday travel, the early bird has the most options and secures the best prices, Fu said. When possible, take advantage of holiday discounts and packages for last minute travel. Be strategic and utilize credit card or hotel points if you have them. It is best practice to protect your investment and add travel insurance or cancellation protection.

3. Plan ahead.

Be mindful of the selection of your destinations and attractions. The rise in demand makes it more important than ever to book reservations for dining and activities ahead of your trip. Choose reliable transportation modes before, during and after the trip. Prepare needed clothes that fit changes in the weather and that are acceptable in local cultures, your personal medication, first-aid kit.

4. Stay healthy.

COVID-19, Flu and RSV are at extreme highs this year, and the number of people with respiratory illnesses is likely to increase with holiday travel and family gatherings. Following common best practices, such as being up-to-date on vaccinations, washing hands, and staying home when sick can help keep everyone healthy over the holidays and into the new year.

5. Safety first.

People tend to relax when they travel and may not always follow the basic safety protocols they do at home, such as wearing seat belts or keeping an eye on the weather forecast. Remember that drowning is among the top causes of death during vacation seasons, and being in an unfamiliar environment can make you more vulnerable when driving or walking around. It can be helpful to plan routes in advance, when possible, and try to have at least one holiday travel companion to maximize safety.

“When all goes well, a holiday trip can bring us happiness and create memories for ourselves and our loved ones,” Fu said. “When there are hiccups during a trip, knowledge and wisdom can minimize potential risks and bring you home safely.”

Brittany Sylvestri December 14, 2022