Last-minute holiday destinations closer to home

Linda Spyres, of Vacations R Us, suggests people looking for a last-minute getaway to visit some place like San Antonio, Texas.

With people looking to burn vacation time in the next few weeks for the holidays, it might be a good time to plan a last-minute trip.

It’s likely too late to book a trip outside of the United States, according to Linda Spyres, of Vacations R Us. But there are a number of places within the states for people to enjoy, as long as they get their boarding passes in time.

“You really need to book at least three weeks in advance to get the best prices,” Spyres said. “Right now, with the holidays, it’s the most expensive time of the year to fly. Usually, the cheapest airfare and packages are the least expensive from the first week of December until around the 15th and 16th, because that’s when hardly anybody really travels, so the prices are down during that period.”

With a new variant of the COVID-19 virus recently discovered, airlines operating with smaller staffs, and potential weather events likely to disrupt travel schedules, how easy it will be for people to fly in the next few weeks is anybody’s guess. Just one or two disruptions can cause the cancellation of hundreds of flights. But as long as travelers go without any unforeseen delays, Spyres said they shouldn’t have too hard of a time getting to their destinations.

Spyres does recommend doing a little research on destinations, as COVID restrictions can impact what is available. For instance, in some cities, visitors will be required to show proof of vaccination before they enter any business or event. COVID guidelines are also something to keep in mind if planning a trip for next summer, and Spyres said now is the time to do that.

“Now is the time to start planning for next year, but it’s really hard with all of the COVID uncertainty,” she said. “There are some great cruise deals coming up. But I’m encouraging my clients not to pay the final payment until the final payment is actually due, because things can change so quickly, as we’ve seen in the last week.”

On a recent cruise to Greece, Spyres said, she had to have proof of vaccination; was required to wear her mask when off the ship; had to take a COVID test before leaving the state and before getting back on the ship; and had to fill out a form to tell the Greek government where they were going and how long they would be there.

“We had a lot of hoops to jump through,” she said. “I would encourage people to get vaccinated if they want to do any traveling.”

If flying isn’t in the cards, there are a number of attractions and cities within driving distance. Bentonville, Arkansas, has become known for its bike trails throughout the area, and not far from there, in Winslow, Arkansas, is Devils Den State Park. Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is another popular city for tourists.

“San Antonio has beautiful lights down along the river, and there are also amusement parks down there,” Spyres said. “It’s gorgeous and all lit up. Kansas City has gorgeous lights, too, and Branson is always nice to visit.”

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