If you’ve spent the summer looking through your fingers at ever-changing quarantine requirements, green lists and COVID-19 infection rates in various countries, you’re probably feeling a little bruised by the experience. Now there is at least a degree of predictability with the system several European countries are using, even if it doesn’t diminish the added stress of booking a late summer break. 

We remain, however, in highly unpredictable times, so there are few guarantees. But the past few months suggest there may be a better approach than booking a trip a long time out and hoping for the best. The key word here is "short" – short-term planning and booking, and trips of a shorter duration. 

Mixed race woman planning a road trip with maps laid out on a table
Spend some time planning for a last-minute booking © JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Short-term planning of short breaks

Taking these one by one, the strategy of "short-terming" your holiday is surely the only reliable approach to not being left with a cancelled trip. I would suggest having a time window to travel in mind with several possible trips planned, but not booked, until a week before. This can re-introduce you to the delights of virtual trip planning, and also have the side effect of helping to narrow down where you most want to go should you end up with a choice. Thinking in this way means you’re unlikely to be left high and dry with all potential options falling through.

Putting this in place today for a Mediterranean break in the next few weeks could entail considering Sicily, Turkey and areas of Greece as your possible destinations. Note your own countries’ travel advice as there are region-specific requirements and conditions on return to and from certain countries. Should the situation deteriorate in one of these in the next few weeks in these destinations travelers should be left with one or two other options to choose from.

Booking later minimizes the risk of your trip getting cancelled by an airline or tour operator. On that note, picking a well-trafficked destination gives you a good chance of being offered another flight to the same place rather than having no options or needing to book with another carrier. There’s also little price differential at the moment from booking at short notice, so not so much of an incentive to book a few months out that there was pre-COVID. You can view a 30-day calendar of cheapest fares between any two destinations at Matrix Airfare Search

Lastly, taking a trip of a shorter duration maximizes the chance of not getting caught out by a relatively sudden spike in infection rates in a particular country.

The open trunk of a car, packed full of luggage
Book direct for short-notice domestic breaks © Youproduction / Shutterstock

Domestic travel

On a completely different note, a domestic break is a more secure option, but in many countries availability is limited and prices high around upcoming school holidays. Short-notice weekend breaks, however, can be good value. When considering this, a phone call can pay dividends. Booking direct means you can take advantage of any short-notice cancellations, and also ensures more of your money goes direct to the establishment.

 

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