Most travel adventures have been put on hold since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold — but studies show that thinking about and planning trips makes people happier. That happiness may get a boost from the travel deals offered during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Travel Tuesday this season.
This year, “many hotel chains and airlines put consumer benefits at the forefront with the introduction of flexible cancellation policies, extra rewards, and deeper discounts,” said Ben Harrell, chief marketing officer at Priceline. “Flexible cancellation policies mean you can take advantage of savings now, for future travel.”
Many companies are kicking off their sales early and widening the purchase window. Others are loosening restrictions on how and when deals can be used.
Experts still recommend joining frequent flier programs and signing up for email alerts for brands and destinations you are interested in. Many deals are offered to club members early and often include a bonus member discount.
"If you land a great deal, it’s not a bad idea to arm yourself with a backup plan in case anything unexpected happens after your trip has begun,” said Kelly Soderlund, travel trends expert at TripIt. She recommends signing up for alerts to keep you informed about local travel restrictions and health and safety guidelines.
If you are unsure about choosing a destination right now, Soderlund recommended "looking instead for deals on travel gift cards that can be used on future bookings.”
Deals available as of Black Friday include Amtrak rolling out its “Track Friday Sale." Past offers have included 30 percent off nationwide train travel well into the new year.
Many cruise lines, which have been hard hit by season-long cancellations, will be offering deals as well. MSC Cruises has a variety of discounts for sail dates through November next year.
Holiday sales are usually more important for retailers than for airlines, but "with tons of empty holiday flights remaining, we may see airlines trying to juice more of those sales this year during Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” said Scott Keyes, founder and chief flight expert for Scott’s Cheap Flights.
In fact, Dollar Flight Club said it expects Black Friday and Cyber Monday fare sale activity to be 12 times what it was in 2019.
“Jet-fuel prices are almost half the price compared to last year and airlines need to sell seats to scrape together revenue,” company founder Jesse Neugarten told NBC News. Travelers should expect summer 2021 deals to Europe "in the $200s to $300s round trip" and deals to Central America for under $250 round trip, Neugarten said.
Closer to home, Orlando has a website dedicated to Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals at theme parks, attractions, resorts, and shopping. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has a long list of deals available to book now.
Legoland New York Resort, set to open in New York’s Hudson Valley in 2021, will have a Black Friday deal until Dec. 1, offering 60 percent off an unlimited admission pass that will be good for a decade and includes a wide array of other perks.
Many travel booking sites, hotel brands and destinations will be offering site-wide discounts on stays. Hotwire’s Cyber Super Sale will offer 12 percent off certain hotel bookings made in the app with the code BF12 at checkout from Nov. 27 to Nov. 30, and Priceline is offering more than $5 million in travel deals through Dec. 1 to its VIP members.
Red Roof guests can save 40 percent off bookings made Nov. 27 through Nov. 30 for stays through Jan. 31, 2021. Kimpton Hotels is offering 25 percent off rooms booked Nov. 23 to Dec. 7 for stays through Sept. 7, 2021, and will also donate $5 per night to charitable partner No Kid Hungry.
Accor Live Limitless hotels, which include Fairmont, Sofitel, and Swissotel, is offering select deals of up to 40 percent for trips booked between Nov. 26 and Nov. 30 for stays between Dec. 7–March 14, 2021.