While the travel industry has suffered in the pandemic, travel deals are still expected to be abundant later this year. Here are some strategies to consider if you’re eager to travel later this year and you want to save big when you do.
The coronavirus pandemic has turned the travel industry upside down.
Flight schedules have been vastly disrupted worldwide, and major cruise lines have been forced to suspend operations altogether. Meanwhile, hotels and resorts largely sit empty while entire countries have closed their borders for the time being.The travel industry’s losses could affect U.S. GDP to the tune of $1.2 trillion in 2020, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
While the industry has suffered, travel deals are still expected to be abundant later this year – at least for a while. The reality is that, like it or not, travel vendors will need to roll out deals to lure travelers out of their homes and into a world where new restrictions and rules may be plentiful.
Many consumers will undoubtedly still be worried about coronavirus, perhaps even worried enough not to travel at all. Not only that, but many who struggled to get refunds or vouchers for canceled travel in 2019 may be hesitant to spend money on travel for a while. And can you blame them?
In the end, the best deals will go to those who are able and willing to take advantage. Here are some strategies to consider if you’re eager to travel later this year and you want to save big when you do.
See related: Prepping your post-pandemic rewards travel strategy
Keep an eye out for mistake fares
Dollar Flight Club CEO Jesse Neugarten says cheaper airfare should be a reality for the remainder of this year at the very least.
His team recently analyzed airfare and industry data from both 9/11 and the Great Recession to predict how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect travelers when the world opens back up, and they found people who return to travel in the short term will be able to take advantage of 35% cheaper airfare prices through 2021.
You can check for cheap airfare deals using Dollar Flight Club or websites like The Flight Deal or Secret Flying. And travel expert Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights says you can also find out about the best pricing from your home airport by signing up for travel alerts.
Scott’s Cheap Flights offers a free service that can alert you of cheap deals or mistake fares, but it also offers a premium version with more functionality for $49 per year.
Another free service you can use to find cheap flight deals is Google Flights, which lets you search for flights in different regions of the world – like Europe or Asia – for the dates you prefer. Meanwhile, you can use the Hopper app to monitor pricing on the flight you want and to predict the cheapest price for airfare with 95% accuracy.
Camping and glamping on the rise
According to a recent study from Dollar Flight Club on the impacts of COVID-19, which surveyed 20,000 active members of its service, 40% of frequent travelers will only be considering domestic trips for the remainder of 2020.
Due to the social distancing requirements that may be in place for the remainder of the year, many experts also suggest outdoor or nature travel will be on the rise, and that deals may be plentiful in that realm.
Dan Dobrowolski, founder of tiny home vacation brand ESCAPE Homes, says he has received calls from many people who are interested in vacationing in his tiny homes but anxious about traveling very far from home. The company is rolling out tremendous deals on tiny home vacations throughout the country as a result.
“Our settings are remote, close to nature and near major cities, so folks don’t have to travel by air to enjoy a short getaway that is safe and peaceful,” says Dobrowolski. “The whole concept of our getaways is to distance, disconnect and rediscover.”
You can also look for inexpensive “glamping” vacations in remote settings via Glamping Hub, and potentially find some spectacular deals on luxury yurts, tree houses and tiny homes. Many options nationwide run far below $100 per night, and glamping makes it easier to go on vacation without any crowds.
RV rentals are also worth exploring, and you can find them through RVShare.com. According to the company, drivable Class C motor homes and similar models can run as low as $150 per night.
Cruise deals galore
Consumer analyst Michael Bonebright of DealNews.com says to watch out for epic cruise deals since, as we all know, the cruise industry will need to make some changes to regain consumer trust.
Not only were cruise ships identified as early breeding grounds for the virus, but the cruise industry has received more than its share of negative press as COVID-19 has spread.
“That means we can expect cruises to offer some of the biggest travel discounts once things have calmed down,” he says.
Bonebright notes there are already big discounts on tropical cruises in the fall and late summer. For instance, four- and five-night cruises for two to the Caribbean are going for less than $400 if you book to sail in early fall.
Some cruise lines, including MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, are also offering free Wi-Fi and drink packages on some of their Caribbean and European itineraries for later this year.
Pick a credit card that earns flexible travel credit
Whatever you decide, you should make sure you’re picking up the right kind of travel credit card to earn rewards for travel later this year. While some cards only dole out airline miles or hotel points good for specific programs, all the uncertainty surrounding travel right now has made it so flexible travel credit cards reign supreme.
Both let you book travel using points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but you can also transfer your points 1:1 to popular airline and hotel partners like Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, World of Hyatt and Marriott Bonvoy, among other options.
Further, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program lets you cash in points for statement credits or cash back at a rate of one cent per point, so you’ll never be stuck with rewards you cannot use.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card also makes it easy to earn flexible rewards. This card lets you earn 2X miles for each dollar you spend, and you can also earn 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. You also get a credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, although you have to pay a $95 annual fee.
In terms of redemption options, you can transfer your miles to airlines, but you can also redeem them for any travel purchase at a rate of 1 cent per mile. That makes this card an excellent option when it comes to covering cheap resort stays or flight deals once you’re ready to get out and see the world.