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All Aboard the Polar Express! Planning Ahead for Christmas Travels

As summer comes to an end, it’s time to break out those sweaters and warm up the hot chocolate because the holiday season is right around the corner. For those of us still heading to the beach on the weekends, it may not seem like the winter is approaching, but it will be here before you know it. That means it’s time to start thinking about holiday travels. Unfortunately, this year, travel looks a bit different for everyone. Whether you’re thinking about booking a Charleston, SC vacation rental for the family or traveling to your childhood home, there are some important things you should know and consider before making the trip.

Will It Be Safe to Fly?

The jury is still out on this one, unfortunately. As of September, some people are traveling by plane but mostly for business or unavoidable reasons, meaning the airports are relatively empty and perhaps a bit safer because of it. However, as the holidays grow closer, more people will be looking to travel–and this year, airlines may not be the best option.

Many experts believe the number of COVID cases will begin to rise once again in the fall and winter as people tend to get sick or contract the flu during these seasons. With an already weakened immune system from another illness, it’s much more likely you’ll catch COVID, too. Because of the increased risk that comes along with flu season, experts are telling people to skip the airport entirely if possible.

Planning Your Christmas Travels

Book Direct with the Airlines

If you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided that you are planning to fly this Christmas, be sure you’re booking through the best platform. Right now, booking direct through airlines is the best way to guarantee your tickets will be protected. Certain companies like Southwest, American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are offering extended policies on changes and cancellations because of the uncertainty around the COVID pandemic. You want to ensure your tickets are protected should the situation change and flights become restricted once again. Purchasing through a third-party vendor may not give you the same protections to easily cancel or reschedule your flight to another time.

There’s No Rush to Book

Although many of us are conditioned to start thinking about holiday travel at the end of the summer, this year is much different. With airlines reaching an all-time low in terms of demand and fares earlier this year, the typical ebb and flow of airfare prices has been drastically altered. Many people are not expecting it to be safe to travel via plane this holiday, so the demand has yet to increase, keeping the ticket prices lower than ever before. If you are considering taking a flight to your Christmas destination, you don’t need to rush into booking now. Keep your eye on the prices and stay informed about the latest COVID updates to determine whether or not taking the flight is worth the risk.

Turn Your Travels into a Road Trip

Currently, the safest way to travel is by car because it limits your exposure to other people and you are able to control the environment more easily than other modes of transportation. You can ensure the car has been properly sanitized and that no one who has tested positive for the virus has been present. Because you are able to limit your risk when traveling in your own car, this is the way most people took off on their summer vacations and the way they are planning to travel for the holidays.

During your road trip, be sure to still follow guidelines–like wearing a mask, washing your hands and thoroughly sanitizing when making stops along the way. If you’re visiting someone who may be at a higher risk of contracting COVID, you should also consider quarantining yourself and your family before leaving for the trip. This will further reduce the chance you spread the virus to someone else in your family.

Rent a Vacation Home with the Entire Family

We all want to see our families during the holidays—that’s what the season is about, after all. But, if you’re feeling uncertain about traveling far away, why not ask your family to meet you halfway? If you’re all able to travel by car (currently the safest mode of travel to lower the risk of contraction and transmission), you can meet at a unique destination like historic Charleston, SC, or anywhere that is equidistant from your home destinations. This allows you to spend time together in a fun new place without taking the risk of flying. It’s also much easier to stay holed up in the house together when you’re staying in a gorgeous beach rental.

Follow All Recommended Guidelines

Although the safest way to avoid contracting COVID is by simply staying home, it’s understandable that people want to spend time with their loved ones during the holidays. If you are going to travel this season, you need to take extra precaution to keep yourself and those around you safe. If you have any elderly relatives or people who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, you need to consider whether it’s safe to travel to them. You may want to quarantine yourself prior to visiting to ensure you haven’t been accidentally exposed before seeing your relatives. You should also stay updated on the latest CDC guidelines for travel to guarantee you’re taking all the proper steps to reducing your risk.

Get in the Holiday Spirit

The holidays are all about giving and spending time with family to show how much you care. Dealing with the new precautions and procedures COVID has forced us to put into place can be frustrating, but it’s all intended to keep us safe. Before you decide to travel this Christmas, recognize the risks and determine the best way to spend time with your loved ones while keeping everyone safe. Avoid flying, if possible, and consider getting a Charleston, SC vacation rental where everyone can meet up and ensure a safe, quarantined Christmas together.

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