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The past year has been dark for travel for obvious reasons.
But there was a surge in travel the day before Thanksgiving last year, when 1.1 million travelers passed through airport checkpoints, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Another 1.2 million passengers went through airport checkpoints the day before Christmas Eve.
However, travel was down compared to 2019 when about two million passengers boarded planes the day before Thanksgiving and 1.9 passengers flew the day before Christmas Eve.
Vacation travel this year is approaching 2019 levels. We analyzed the latest travel insurance data from Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison company, to determine vacation travel trends for trips booked between November 20, 2021 and January 2, 2022.
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COVID medical coverage
COVID cancellation coverage
COVID medical coverage
COVID cancellation coverage
Related: Do you need travel insurance for your Thanksgiving trip?
Sun and sand are back in demand
Flights within the United States are the most popular vacation destination this year. This makes sense considering that many travelers visit their families during the holidays.
But for some people, a trip south of the border is better than visiting the in-laws. Seven of the 10 most popular holiday travel destinations this year are known for their gorgeous beaches.
Mexico, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Turks and Caicos topped the most popular destinations booked this year, topped only by the US
Most popular holiday travel destinations in 2021
Top 10 Most Popular Holiday Destinations by Year
While vacation trips outside the United States have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, trips within the United States are down 13.5 percentage points compared to 2020. Sunny regions of the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos climbed to the top ten this year.
Domestic travelers spend like international travellers
Vacation travelers staying in the US this year certainly don’t hold back. Domestic travelers have increased their travel spending by an average of 46% this year compared to just two years ago.
After spending increased in 2020, insured flight costs for international flights in 2021 are about 10% higher than spending before the pandemic in 2019. The average cost of a trip for a vacation abroad is now close to $5,800. Many travelers may return home with plenty of free luxury soaps and shampoos from hotel stays.
Average flight costs 2019-2021
Covid coverage is the number one concern for travel insurance shoppers
Even with vaccines readily available, Covid is high on the minds of many holiday travelers. Flexibility is key to traveling in 2021, and travel insurance is a good way to add financial security to a trip.
According to Squaremouth data, travel insurance that includes coverage for Covid-related issues was the first search by consumers before purchasing an insurance policy. About a third of holiday travel insurance buyers (35%) specifically looked for pandemic travel insurance in 2021 compared to 27% in 2020.
The best pandemic travel insurance includes valuable Covid-related coverage for flight cancellations, medical emergencies and medical evacuations. You can find plans that offer primary medical coverage, which means you don’t have to use your health plan first. If you are traveling abroad, medical coverage for Covid is usually a must. That’s because your health plan may not have universal coverage. Be sure to review the details of your health plan when planning a trip abroad.
Another useful coverage is “cancellation for any reason” travel insurance. This coverage gives you the flexibility to cancel your trip no matter what, whether you don’t like a country’s Covid testing requirements or you’d rather stay at home watching HBO Max. You will be reimbursed for 50% or 75% of the non-refundable prepaid flight costs under a “cancellation for any reason” claim.
“Cancellation for any reason” coverage does not come with an additional cost. It bears an average of 50% of the cost of the basic travel insurance price. But it’s coverage worth considering if you want the ultimate flexibility to save on your trip and get some reimbursement.
Top Concerns Among Holiday Travelers
Some countries require travel insurance and more
If you’re looking to venture outside the US this holiday season, be sure to check the destination country’s entry requirements before leaving on your trip. If you do not meet the requirements, you will not be allowed to enter.
For example, you are required to purchase travel insurance for a holiday in Turks and Caicos. There is no specific amount required, but it is a good idea to purchase at least $50,000 per person for medical expenses and $100,000 per person for medical evacuation.
In addition to travel medical insurance, your destination may require one or more of the following:
Evidence of Covid vaccination
- Recent negative Covid test (be sure to check which types of tests are accepted and how current they are)
- Complete the health examination questionnaire