Expedia Reveals the Top Trending Destinations for the Holidays

October 5, 2021

New data released by Expedia indicates holiday travel planning is underway and the top choices for Thanksgiving and Christmas escapes are sunny beachside destinations across Mexico, the southern U.S. and the Caribbean. 

Mountaintop getaways to Utah and Colorado are also shaping up to be popular for travelers this holiday season. While many of these destinations are already seeing strong demand, it's important to know that it's not too late to book.

"Whether you're hoping to spend your holidays on the sand or on a ski slope, the best way to find a great value just requires a bit of flexibility in terms of your travel dates and taking advantage of the savings that are out there," says Christie Hudson, senior PR manager for Brand Expedia. 

"For example, members save 10% or more just by booking on the Expedia app, which is a great way to get more bang for your buck during the holiday season."

Holiday Trip Planning Tips

  • Flight booking tips: Booking holiday airfare is all about timing. While booking well in advance can yield savings, often it's just as important to be flexible with travel dates to avoid the busiest travel days. According to Expedia data, the most expensive travel dates around the holidays are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 24) and Thursday, Dec. 23. And for those planning a post-Christmas trip, avoid departing on Tuesday, Dec. 28. Here's when to fly:
    • Historically, shifting departure dates to the week before or after each holiday will yield savings. For example, departing on or before Nov. 19 in 2019 resulted in a savings of nearly 15 percent compared to departing the day before Thanksgiving. For Christmas, departing between Dec. 13-17 could save travelers more than 10 percent. Traveling on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day also often results in cheaper fares.
    • Consider a trip in between the holidays: Currently, prices for domestic flights in early December (from the 6-17) are around 15-20 percent cheaper than they were for the same timeframe in 2019.
    • Start the year off right: The week between Christmas and New Year's Day is a very popular travel week and prices often reflect that. A more budget-friendly itinerary would be to depart on New Year's Eve and spend the first week of the year on vacation.
  • Getting the best value on accommodations: It's no secret that average daily lodging rates have gone up since travel began to recover earlier in the year, and the trend is likely to continue into the busy holiday season. Current demand data shows prices are generally lower during the Thanksgiving holiday compared to the week of Christmas. For popular resort destinations in Mexico or the Caribbean such as Cancun or Punta Cana, for example, those savings could amount to around $70 or more per night.
  • Car rental: For travelers in need of a car during their holiday trips, pricing trends reveal that now is a great time to lock it in. Average rates per day for the holiday time periods are currently trending downward, but as pricing can fluctuate there's no guarantee how long these rates will last. Filter for options that allow "free cancellation" or "pay at pick up" to score even more flexibility when planning ahead.
  • Budget-friendly destinations: City destinations like New York, San Francisco and Boston continue to offer up some the best deals around in terms of hotel prices, with savings for the holidays ranging from 10-35 percent compared to 2019. But if a beach escape is preferred, the winter months are a great time to go, with many warm-weather destinations like Miami, Orange County and Myrtle Beach offering better rates compared to the summer months.

Top Destinations

Beach destinations are always a favorite for the holidays and 2021 sees this trend going strong. The bottom line for travelers: if any of these hotspots sound appealing, be sure to firm up travel plans soon for the best options and availability.

Thanksgiving week

Christmas

1.  Cancun, Mexico

2.  Nashville, Tenn.

3.  Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Mexico

4.  Oahu, Hawaii

5.  Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

6.  Charleston, S.C.

7.  Myrtle Beach, S.C.

8.  Salt Lake City

9.  Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

10.  Indianapolis, Ind.

1.  Orlando, Fla.

2.  Cancun, Mexico

3.  Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Mexico

4.  Oahu, Hawaii

5.  Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

6.  Kansas City, Mo.

7.  Salt Lake City

8.  Palm Beach area, Fla.

9.  Rapid City – Mount Rushmore, S.D.

10.  Sarasota area, Fla.

Trending Destinations

Not all travelers are heading to their normal vacation spots, however. Looking at which destinations are seeing the biggest jumps in terms of search interest for Thanksgiving and Christmas proves some travelers are thinking outside the box. From an ecotourism mecca in Costa Rica to the ski slopes of Colorado, these trending destinations clearly have a lot to entice holiday travelers.

Thanksgiving week

Christmas

1.  St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

2.  Salt Lake City

3.  Acapulco, Mexico

4.  Estes Park, Colo.

5.  Park City, Utah

6.  Chatanooga, Tenn.

7.  Monteverde, Costa Rica

8.  Boulder, Colo.

9.  Fresno, Calif.

10.  Yucatan, Mexico

1.  Gainsville, Fla.

2.  Allentown, Pa.

3.  Estes Park, Colo.

4.  Knoxville, Tenn.

5.  Chatanooga, Tenn.

6.  Salt Lake City

7.  Cherokee, N.C.

8.  Oregon Coast, Ore.

9.  San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

10.  Ocean City, Md.

Flexibility is key for holiday and winter travel.

  • Book refundable stays on Expedia by filtering for "free cancellation" or "reserve now, pay later" and select the refundable room option.
  • Try to avoid restrictive or non-refundable airfare. Expedia makes it easy to compare fares during the booking process by highlighting what is or isn't included with the ticket, such as seat selection, checked baggage or whether changes are permitted. Paying a bit more for flexibility can bring peace of mind, which is especially valuable during the holidays.   
  • Take direct flights and avoid taking the last flight of the day whenever possible during the winter months to reduce the chances of missed connections or delays due to cancelled flights or winter storms.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 restrictions and requirements for airlines, hotels and destinations. Some hotels require proof of vaccination while others might require a negative test result from an approved list of providers. Travelers can use the Expedia COVID-19 travel advisor to find more information about travel advisories and health and safety guidelines.

[Source: Expedia.com]

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