By Christopher Elliott  |  October 15, 2021

For Jim Jacobs, deciding to travel during the holidays has always been easy. Normally, he and his wife would fly from Tampa to Los Angeles, where they would enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with their daughter, son-in-law, and extended family.

But last year, with COVID cases soaring during the holidays, Jacobs canceled his holiday travel plans. The family connected on Zoom, “but it was far from being the real thing,” says Jacobs, a retired salesman.

“This year,” he adds, “we were looking forward to the trip.”

And that’s how it is for lots of Americans considering their holiday travel plans. The lingering delta variant is holding them back, but the need to see family and friends – and to uphold tradition – is pulling them toward the airports and highways. Whether to make a trip is a difficult decision, say travelers and experts.

Some say it’s still too risky. But others – many others – are tired of waiting. Vaccinated or not, they’re hitting the road for the holiday travel season, COVID or not.

“Although the demand for travel is high, winter holiday travel in the coming year will remain unpredictable,” says Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage.

More people are traveling during the holidays

Booking data for the holiday travel season suggests it could be busier than the last pre-pandemic year.

That’s particularly true of vacation rentals. Thanksgiving reservation volume is up by 302% compared to 2020 and 93% higher compared to pre-COVID 2019 volume, according to Guesty, a vacation rental platform. And Christmas reservation volume across the US is up 469% compared to 2020, and is currently 157% higher than pre-COVID 2019 volume.

“This holiday season is likely to see a surge of demand and a lack of supply,” says Jeff Galak, associate professor of marketing at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

He says many travelers find themselves in Jacobs’ situation: They haven’t seen family in a year or more – or they just want to get away.

“The result is very high demand for travel,” he adds.

In other words, if you’re headed out there, prepare for crowds.

Read the full article at Statesman Journal